In light of the increasing rate of obesity among children in the United States, this study examines whether obese children have an increased rate of complications following surgical treatment of femoral shaft fractures.

A retrospective review of the charts of children between six and fourteen years of age who were treated operatively for a femoral shaft fracture was performed, and complications were identified.

One hundred and three children (104 fractures), with a mean age at the time of injury of 9.3 years, were identified. Fifty-nine fractures were treated with external fixation, and forty-five were treated with an intramedullary rod. Six children (6%) were considered obese, with a weight for age at the 95th percentile or higher. An additional four children were extremely heavy at the 90th to the 94th percentile of weight for age. Three complications occurred in the six obese children, and one complication occurred in the four extremely heavy children. Eleven (12%) of the remaining ninety-three children had a complication. When examined according to treatment groups, the complication rate for heavier children was higher for both the group managed with an intramedullary rod and the group that had external fixation (p = 0.004).

Obese children have an increased rate of postoperative complications compared with children who are not obese. Therefore, parents of obese children should be warned that such children may have a potentially increased risk of complications associated with surgical management of a femoral fracture.

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