What tests are used to diagnose growth plate injuries?
Our pediatric orthopedic specialists start by assessing a possible fracture with X-ray. Since growth plates are not bone, they're difficult to see with X-ray and our specialists may compare several different angles. In some cases, we also use MRI or CT scans to get a more complete picture of the injury.
How do providers at Children's Colorado diagnose growth plate injuries?
Through images, examination and talking with the patient and family about the nature of the symptoms and how they came about, our specialists get as complete an understanding as possible of the injury. From there, growth plate injuries are generally grouped into five categories, depending on seriousness. These categories help determine the course of treatment.
Since the growth plates are structurally the weakest areas of the bone, fractures sometimes run right through the growth plate. As long as the growth plate remains attached to the end of the bone and the blood supply isn't seriously affected, these types of injuries generally fully heal with a cast.
The most common type of growth plate injury, these run though part of the growth plate and part of the end of the bone from the middle. These also typically heal fully with casting.
This fracture runs through part of the growth plate and part of the end of the bone. Relatively rare, these injuries are difficult to set and some may require surgery. If the growth plate and blood supply are still intact, however, these typically will fully heal.
Rather than running through the growth plate, these fractures intersect it. These injuries almost always require surgery to align the bone and prevent the growth plate from closing prematurely.
These injuries occur when the end of the bone is crushed. Unfortunately, in these cases, the growth plate is unlikely to recover. However, a pediatric orthopedic specialist or surgeon can discuss other options for reconstructing and healing the bone.
Why choose Children's Colorado for a growth plate injury diagnosis?
The signs of a growth plate injury can be subtle and hard to spot at first — but because kids' bones are continually growing, failing to catch one and treat appropriately can lead to long-term consequences, such as uneven limbs. Since growth plate injuries aren't always evident at the time of the fracture, a pediatric specialist may want to monitor the area of the fracture for even several years after the injury, to make sure the bone is healing appropriately.
Our pediatric orthopedic specialists care for kids and only kids. With that experience and expertise, they're well equipped to diagnose these injuries and determine the right course of treatment, right from the start.