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Recovery of Decreased Bone Mineral Mass After Lower-Limb Fractures in Adolescents
Dimitri Ceroni, MD1; Xavier E. Martin, MS1; Cécile Delhumeau, PhD1; Nathalie J. Farpour-Lambert, MD1; Geraldo De Coulon, MD1; Victor Dubois-Ferrière, MD1; René Rizzoli, MD1
1 Pediatric Cardiology Unit (N.J.F.-L.), Service of Pediatric Orthopedics (D.C., X.E.M., G.D.C., and V.D.-F.), Pediatric Research Platform (C.D.), and Service of Bone Diseases (R.R.), Department of Child and Adolescent, University Hospitals of Geneva, 6 Rue Willy Donzé, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland. E-mail address for D. Ceroni: dimitri.ceroni@hcuge.ch
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Investigation performed at the Department of Child and Adolescent, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Disclosure: One or more of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Jun 05;95(11):1037-1043. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00809
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Loss of bone mineral mass, muscle atrophy, and functional limitations are predictable consequences of immobilization and subsequent weight-bearing restriction due to leg or ankle fractures. The aim of this study was to prospectively determine whether decreased bone mineral mass following lower-limb fractures recovers at follow-up durations of six and eighteen months in adolescents.


In the present study, we included fifty adolescents who underwent cast immobilization for a leg or ankle fracture. Dual x-ray absorptiometry scans of four different sites (total hip, femoral neck, entire lower limb, and calcaneus) were performed at the time of the fracture, at cast removal, and at follow-ups of six and eighteen months. Patients with fractures were paired with healthy controls according to sex, age, and ethnicity. Dual x-ray absorptiometry values were compared between groups and between injured and non-injured legs in adolescents with fractures.


Among those with fractures, lower-limb bone mineral variables were significantly lower at the injured side compared with the non-injured side at cast removal, with differences ranging from 6.2% to 31.7% (p < 0.0001). Similarly, injured adolescents had significantly lower bone mineral values at the level of the injured lower limb compared with healthy controls (p < 0.0001). At the six-month follow-up, there were still significant residual differences between injured and non-injured legs in adolescents with fractures (p < 0.0001). However, a significant residual difference between healthy controls and injured adolescents was present only for femoral neck bone mineral density (p = 0.011). At the eighteen-month follow-up, no significant difference was observed at any lower-limb site.


Bone mineral loss following a fracture of the lower limb in adolescents is highly significant and affects the lower limb both proximal to and distal to the fracture site. In contrast to observations in adults, a rapid bone mass reversal occurs with full bone recovery by eighteen months.

Level of Evidence: 

Prognostic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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