Broken Leg | Testing & Diagnosis

How are broken legs in children diagnosed?

At Boston Children’s Hospital, the first step in treating broken legs in children is to form an accurate and complete diagnosis.

A doctor will use different diagnostic tests to get detailed images of your child's fracture. Typical tests include:


A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film; usually sufficient for the majority of fractures.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Computed tomography scan (CT, CAT scan)

A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body.

Bone scan

A non-invasive imaging technique that uses a radioactive substance to visualize the bones. It’s different from plain X-rays or CT scans in that it shows bone metabolism and cell activity in the bones.