What Is the Pathophysiology of a Fracture in the Femur?

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that femoral fractures are the result of high-energy impacts to the femur. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of fractured femurs. Being hit by a car, gunshot wounds and falls from heights are also typical causes.

According to The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, femoral fractures trigger severe pain. The affected person is unable to put weight on the leg, and the broken leg appears deformed or shorter than the other. Other symptoms include breaks in the skin, bruising and bony pieces pushing up and into the skin.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that complications of femoral fractures are not uncommon. Severe bleeding occurs if bone fragments sever blood vessels or nerves in the thigh, while open fractures are susceptible to infection. Even with the highest levels of surgical care, the bone may become infected and require multiple surgeries and antibiotics to treat it. Other complications of femoral breaks include fat embolisms that travel through the bloodstream and enter the lungs, and blood clots.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that most femoral fractures require surgical treatments that employ intermedullary nailing or plates and screws to rejoin the bone fragments. Femoral fractures typically require four to six months to heal. The healing period is frequently longer if the bone breaks in more than one place.