Paediatric femur fractures at the emergency department: accidental or not?

Eva M.M. Hoytema van Konijnenburg, Thekla F. Vrolijk-Bosschaart, Roel Bakx, Rick R. Van Rijn

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Only a small proportion of all paediatric fractures is caused by child abuse or neglect, especially in highly prevalent long bone fractures. It can be difficult to differentiate abusive fractures from non-abusive fractures. This article focuses on femoral fractures in young children. Based on three cases, this article presents a forensic evidence-based approach to differentiate between accidental and non-accidental causes of femoral fractures. We describe three cases of young children who were presented to the emergency department because of a suspected femur fracture. Although in all cases, the fracture had a similar location and appearance, the clinical history and developmental stage of the child led to three different conclusions. In the first two cases, an accidental mechanism was a plausible conclusion, although in the second case, neglect of parental supervision was the cause for concern. In the third case, a non-accidental injury was diagnosed and appropriate legal prosecution followed. Any doctor treating children should always be aware of the possibility of child abuse and neglect in children with injuries, especially in young and non-mobile children presenting with an unknown trauma mechanism. If a suspicion of child abuse or neglect arises, a thorough diagnostic work-up should be performed, including a full skeletal survey according to the guidelines of the Royal College of Radiologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. In order to make a good assessment, the radiologist reviewing the skeletal survey needs access to all relevant clinical and social information.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalThe British journal of radiology
Issue number1061
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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