Medical Update – What Is A Growth Plate Fracture?

11-21-2014 6-45-15 PM

If you have children then chances are you have heard of the term growth plate fracture. So, what is a growth plate fracture?

Growth plate fractures occur only in children. As the skeleton grows, this growth occurs from a site within each bone called a growth plate or physis. This is an area of bone that is different than other parts of the bone. It has different characteristics which make it susceptible to certain injury pat- terns.

The growth plate is softer and has more cartilage type make up and therefore is weaker with the stress that injury may exert on bone. This is why fractures are more likely to occur around growth plates. We call these fractures Salter Harris type fractures in the orthopedic world. This is a classification that helps your doctor predict outcomes and determine treatment.

One very confusing and frustrating aspect of growth plate fractures is that often they may not show on x-ray. This is because growth plates look like fracture lines on x-rays to the untrained eye. Therefore fractures often hide in growth plates. In these cases your doctor makes the diagnosis based on clinical exam, injury pattern, and knowledge of these fracture patterns.

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Growth plate fractures generally do well in the long run but can result in early growth shut down of the broken bone. This is minimized by proper treatment. Typical treatment for growth plate fractures involves casting but occasionally does require surgery.
By: Dr. Patrick Boyett, OrthoSports Athens

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