Hip Fracture | Testing and Diagnosis

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Contact the Child and Young Adult Hip Preservation Program

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How do you diagnose a broken hip?

At Boston Children' Hospital, we know that the first step in treating your child’s broken hip is to form an accurate and complete diagnosis.

During a physical exam, the doctor obtains a complete medical history of your child and asks how your child got hurt. The physician will look for any injuries commonly associated with hip fractures. These can include injury to any of the structures housed by the pelvic bones, such as the lower portion of the intestines and rectum, the urinary bladder and the reproductive organs. Other commonly associated injuries include head injuries and additional fractures.

The doctor will examine any lacerations to determine whether an open fracture (bone visible through the skin) has occurred, and will press on front and back of the pelvic area to help determine how stable the hip is. A rectal examination also may be performed to look for hemorrhage that may signify bone penetration into the rectum.

Diagnostic testing for a broken hip

•    x-ray: uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto
     film—usually sufficient for the majority of fractures
•    MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies and a computer to
     produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; especially useful for assessing soft tissue around
     injured joints and bones
•    computed tomography scan (CT, CAT scan): uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce
     3-D cross-sectional images (slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the affected area—including bones, fat,
     soft tissue
•    bone scan: uses a radioactive dye to visualize the bones. It’s different from plain x-rays or CT in that it shows bone
     metabolism and cell activity in the bones. Bone scans are used to assess bone growth activity, bone remodeling
     activity and/or blood flow in the affected area(s).

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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