Femur Fractures Imaging Studies


When people are worried about a broken bone, one of their gut reactions is that they will need an x-ray. A femur fracture is no different. There are many ways that people could break this large bone, including a car accident, and proper diagnosis of the fracture is the first step in a successful recovery. What are some of the important findings that physicians are looking for on imaging studies for femur fractures?

An X-Ray of the Leg for a Suspected Femur Fracture

While some fractures may be open fractures or comminuted fractures, which are relatively easy to diagnose on physical exams, some femur fractures may be more difficult to diagnose. Sometimes called hairline fractures, an x-ray can detect fractures that may otherwise be missed. An x-ray functions by using the speed and amount of x-ray beams that pass through a medium (such as a bone or soft tissue) to measure the density of that medium. Because bone is denser than tissue, bone is easily visible on an x-ray. This also makes a femur fracture relatively easy to diagnose on an x-ray, even if it is small.

Furthermore, the x-ray can accurately locate the fracture. Proper location of the fracture is important for deciding what kind of cast is necessary and whether surgery is required. For example, if the fracture has not been displaced, surgery may not be necessary to repair the femur fracture. On the other hand, the x-ray could also reveal that pieces of the bone are out of place. These bones will need to be put back together surgically before a cast can be applied. An x-ray is a vital part of deciding what kind of treatment modality is necessary.

What about Additional Fractures?

The femur is one of the largest bones in the human body, meaning that a tremendous amount of force is required to break this bone (such as a traumatic car accident). If the patient suffered this kind of force, there could be additional fractures present around the femur. An x-ray can help to find these as well. For example, a patient may have suffered a hip or pelvic fracture because these bones are close in proximity to the femur. A patient may have suffered a knee fracture because this joint is attached to the distal end of the femur. These injuries are just as important and deserve the same treatment consideration as a femur fracture. An x-ray can help to find if these fractures, or others, are present in the patient.

Other Imaging Modalities May Be Necessary

While an x-ray is the first scan employed to diagnose bone fractures because of its safety and speed, physicians may decide that other imaging modalities are necessary. For example, an MRI takes longer to perform than an x-ray; however, it doesn’t use any radiation and can diagnose ligament, tendon, and soft tissue damage that an x-ray would otherwise miss.

If a patient has suffered the kind of force necessary to fracture their femur, they could have damage to ligaments in their knee, the femoral artery, or the femoral nerve. These are all vital structures that must be identified and repaired if there is any suspicion of an injury to these structures. Because these aren’t bones, they are harder to identify on an x-ray. This is where an MRI comes in. An MRI produces the visual detail necessary to assess the health of these structures. For this reason, a physician could decide to order an MRI scan.

Contact an Experienced Bone Fracture Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Bone Fracture Attorney. If you or a loved one has suffered a bone fracture in an accident, reach out to one of our experienced injury lawyers at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for friendly, free advice.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 4.9.21]

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

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