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Growth Plate Fractures in Children

  • Here at Boston Children's Hospital, we have specialized expertise in treating growth plate fractures and other pediatric bone conditions. This important because, since children’s bones are still growing, they are very different from adult bones.

    The long bones in a child’s body grow not from the center of the bone outward, but from each end. The bone grows through softer pieces of developing cartilage tissue called growth plates, which help define the length and shape of the bone. 

    When a child is fully grown, their bones stop growing and the growth plates harden. As they develop, the growth plates are prone to injury; if they’re injured and not treated properly, it can lead to permanent problems with the bone and with growth. 

    Growth plate fractures happen the way any fracture can happen, most commonly through sports or playground accidents. They vary from mild fractures to more serious cases. They are usually diagnosed by physical examination and an X-ray.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches growth plate fractures

    How a growth plate fracture is treated depends on which bone is fractured, and how seriously. It can range from a splint in some cases to surgery in others. 

    With quick diagnosis and the right treatment, the vast majority of growth plate injuries in children heal completely without any long-term problems. Occasionally, after injury the growth plate will stop growing, and may require longer follow up or further treatment. 

    At Boston Children’s Hospital, the experts in our Orthopedic Center see children with growth plate fractures every day. Our team has the experience and expertise to deal with them safely and efficiently.

    Growth plate fractures: Reviewed by Michael P. Glotzbecker, MD
    © Boston Children's Hospital; posted in 2012

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO