Pathological fractures in children

C. B. R. De Mattos, O. Binitie, J. P. Dormans


Pathological fractures in children can occur as a result of a variety of conditions, ranging from metabolic diseases and infection to tumours. Fractures through benign and malignant bone tumours should be recognised and managed appropriately by the treating orthopaedic surgeon. The most common benign bone tumours that cause pathological fractures in children are unicameral bone cysts, aneurysmal bone cysts, non-ossifying fibromas and fibrous dysplasia. Although pathological fractures through a primary bone malignancy are rare, these should be recognised quickly in order to achieve better outcomes. A thorough history, physical examination and review of plain radiographs are crucial to determine the cause and guide treatment. In most benign cases the fracture will heal and the lesion can be addressed at the time of the fracture, or after the fracture is healed. A step-wise and multidisciplinary approach is necessary in caring for paediatric patients with malignancies. Pathological fractures do not have to be treated by amputation; these fractures can heal and limb salvage can be performed when indicated.


  • Funding statement: None declared

  • ICMJE Conflict of Interest: Dr. Dormans receives royalties from Elsevier, Mosby, Brooke’s Publishing and his department receives funding from AO Spine and OMEGA.

  • ©2012 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attributions licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, but not for commercial gain, provided the original author and source are credited.

  • Received July 21, 2012.
  • Accepted September 18, 2012.
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