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J Athl Train. 1995 June; 30(2): 154–157.
PMCID: PMC1317849

Fracture Through the Distal Femoral Epiphysis

Laura C. Decoster, ATC, CSCS
Laura C. Decoster is Director at HEALTHSOUTH Rehab


Injuries to the distal femoral epiphysis are not common, but when they do occur, at least half of them occur in sports. Many athletic trainers work with skeletally immature athletes, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will face this type of injury. The case of a 14-year-old football player who sustained a Salter-Harris III fracture of his medial femoral condyle is presented to illustrate the classic natural history and prognosis of this injury. To properly evaluate this injury, the athletic trainer must understand the anatomy of the immature skeleton and be able to recognize signs that epiphyseal injury has occurred. These injuries frequently result in long-term complications such as leg-length discrepancy, although this and other complications can be minimized or eliminated through proper immediate treatment. Athletic trainers must be aware of these injuries and include them in their differential evaluation, since immediate treatment can mean the difference between permanent leg-length discrepancy or deformity and an uncomplicated recovery with the athlete returning to full athletic activity.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Bertin KC, Goble EM. Ligament injuries associated with physeal fractures about the knee. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1983 Jul-Aug;(177):188–195. [PubMed]
  • Lombardo SJ, Harvey JP., Jr Fractures of the distal femoral epiphyses. Factors influencing prognosis: a review of thirty-four cases. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1977 Sep;59(6):742–751. [PubMed]
  • Neer CS, 2nd, Horwitz BS. Fractures of the proximal humeral epiphysial plate. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1965 Jul-Aug;41:24–31. [PubMed]
  • Peterson CA, Peterson HA. Analysis of the incidence of injuries to the epiphyseal growth plate. J Trauma. 1972 Apr;12(4):275–281. [PubMed]
  • Stephens DC, Louis E, Louis DS. Traumatic separation of the distal femoral epiphyseal cartilage plate. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1974 Oct;56(7):1383–1390. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association