What Is Balanced Suspension Traction?

Balanced suspension traction is a system of pulleys, ropes and weights used to immobilize femur fractures. It also helps reduce muscle spasms and stretch adhesions, release arthritic contractures and correct certain deformities. The two types of balanced suspension traction are skin and skeletal.

The purpose of balanced suspension traction is to reduce the fracture and restore and maintain alignment of the bone while it heals. A patient is maintained by a device attached by ropes and pulleys to weights that pull on an extremity or body part. Counter-traction is maintained by elevating the patient’s bed under the body part to which traction is applied. For example, the patient’s affected leg remains suspended as the patient lies with his head elevated and maintains limited mobility of his upper body. In treating young children, the balanced suspension apparatus often holds the leg at a right angle in relation to the body.

In a skeletal balanced suspension traction, a pin or wire is surgically inserted through the distal end of the femur to stabilize it. Parallel rods attach to a splint consisting of a ring that surrounds and supports the thigh, while a canvas sling supports the calf. Traction may be applied directly to the skin if the traction system is attached to tape and wrapping or to a splint or traction boot affixed to the affected limb.