February 16, 2011

Bone Implants Linked to Fractures in Kids

By Rhonda Craig, IBN Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Pediatric Implants designed to help heal broken bones, may actually be damaging the very bones they were intended to treat.

According to new research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center, children with hip and thigh implants are at a greater risk of experiencing bone fractures at the area of the implant.

For the study, researchers analyzed more than 7,500 pediatric bone implant procedures at Johns Hopkins. They found that nine out of 1,000 hip and thigh implants were linked to hip and thigh fractures. While that number may not seem significant, researchers say it's 15 times higher than the risk for implant-related fractures in other bones.

"We compared all areas of the body and found that the hip and thigh posed the greatest risk. This is because it has the highest stress within the bone and the shape changes rapidly with growth.  Thus implants which are inserted appropriately no longer have an appropriate shape and location for the bone after growth has occurred," senior investigator Paul Sponseller, M.D., M.B.A., Director of orthopedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, told Ivanhoe.

Most of the 25 implant-related fractures in the study occurred in children with brittle bones from preexisting conditions such as cerebral palsy. Dr. Sponseller says children with osteopenia (low bone mineral density) or who play high stress sports have a much higher risk of experiencing a bone fracture. Findings showed the average time between implant insertion and fracture was just over two and a half years. Dr. Sponseller suggested orthopedic surgeons discuss an implant removal plan with parents.

"Implants in the proximal femur region in children are probably best removed after adequate healing has taken place." Dr. Sponseller added.

Researchers say not all implants should be removed. They concluded that low-risk implants in healthy children are best left in, because the surgical risks of removing them may outweigh the benefits.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, February 16, 2011