Children's Hospital Colorado
Orthopedics Institute
Orthopedics Institute

Pediatric Orthopedic Trauma and Fracture

A serious injury to your child might be one of your worst fears as a parent. That's why Children's Hospital Colorado provides one of best programs in the country for treating orthopedic trauma and fractures.

Experts in the pediatric Orthopedic Trauma and Fracture Program at Children's Colorado treat traumatic injuries of all kinds: from broken bones to critical injuries. Our pediatric trauma specialists correct deformities, heal bone infections and mend broken limbs.

Program Director Julia Sanders, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of both simple and complex fractures, as well as wounds and injuries caused by simple accidents or major trauma. She and her team work closely with multidisciplinary specialists – rehabilitation providers, infectious disease specialists, nurses, orthopedic surgeons and more – to get your child well. We treat your child as a whole person, not just their injury, to help them return to the activities they love.

Orthopedic trauma conditions we treat

A fracture, or broken bone, is a common injury in kids and teens. Fractures often occur from a fall or sports, usually in the upper part of the body (arms, wrists and shoulder).

Fracture signs and symptoms include pain, swelling or deformity (a bump or change of shape in the bone). Casting is the most common treatment option, although surgery is occasionally necessary.

You should always have a broken bone assessed by a doctor because fractures in children can sometimes affect growth plates and result in abnormalities. That's why it's especially important for pediatric specialists to assess and treat your child's broken bone. We specialize in treating supracondylar humerus fractures, the most common kind of elbow fracture in children.

A nonunion is a bone that doesn't heal properly. While most bones heal on their own, certain factors can prevent proper healing. Too much movement or too little blood flow can contribute to nonunion, as can diabetes, anemia and general poor health.

A nonunion can occur anywhere, but is common in the femur, tibia and humerus. Treatment options – both surgical and nonsurgical – range from using a bone stimulator device to bone grafting to revision surgery.

A malunion is a bone that heals in the wrong position. Untreated fractures or failed treatment can cause malunion. Malunion can cause severe pain and limited function, necessitating treatment by our orthopedic traumatology specialists.

Treatments range from physical therapy to post-traumatic reconstructive procedures that utilize osteotomies (cuts in the bone) to restore alignment and proper healing. Since kids' bones are still developing, natural growth can sometimes correct a deformity or malunion. We monitor the injury very closely in hopes of avoiding surgery.

Bone infections in children are particularly difficult to treat. Also known as osteomyelitis, infections can spread from blood or soft tissue, or can originate in the bone itself.

Children have a greater tendency to develop bone infections because their bodies are growing rapidly. We have a dedicated protocol and organized multidisciplinary team to combat bone infections, complete with orthopedic trauma surgeons, infectious disease specialists and radiologists.

A complex fracture is a particularly severe break and can cause damage to multiple bones, soft tissue, tendons, ligaments or joints. This type of injury often requires emergency orthopedic care. Treatment usually entails surgery, though each case and treatment plan is unique.

Caring for children can be especially challenging because complex fractures can injure growth centers and result in abnormality. Our team specializes in fractures of the pelvis and acetabulum (hip socket). These complex fractures are challenging to treat given the proximity to vital organs and blood vessels, which is why you need a team like ours that is experienced in treating such injuries.

Deformities can cause pain and hinder your child's ability to function. They can occur if your child is born with a limb that's too long or short, or from a traumatic episode or accident. Our pediatric orthopedic trauma specialists can help correct the limb or deformity and restore balance, form and function. We can correct some deformities with nonsurgical treatment, but many skeletal issues do require surgery.

Compartment syndrome is a painful condition resulting from a muscle injury that causes the muscle to swell. The compartment that holds the muscle can't stretch, so the swollen muscle doesn't have any room to spread out. This increases pressure in the muscle, which can stop nourishment from reaching the muscle and nerves. Compartment syndrome can eventually lead to tissue death if not treated urgently and requires surgery.

Treatment for fractures and orthopedic trauma

Our multidisciplinary team will create an individualized treatment plan for your child based on their injury and circumstances. Treatment plans often involve working with experts in other specialties and utilizing multiple treatments to ensure the best outcome. Common treatments include:

  • Casting
  • Physical therapy
  • Bone stimulation
  • Bone grafting
  • Surgery

Why choose Children's Colorado for orthopedic trauma and fracture care?

Children's Colorado has the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the Rocky Mountain region, offering the highest level of care for traumatic injuries. We care for patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All of our providers specialize in pediatric care because children heal differently than adults. Our team also has the expertise to provide the best care for all children from newborns to teens.

In one location, your child receives family-focused care from a team of specialists. To ensure complete health, we work closely with experts in other fields such as general trauma care, neurovascular injury, infectious disease, amputation and plastic and reconstructive services.

“Many thanks to everyone at Children’s Colorado for impacting Mason’s road to recovery. Because of the success of his surgery and healing, he can continue to train hard and compete.”
– Ginger Stowell, Mason’s mom