Fractures of the thighbone that occur just above the knee joint are called distal femur fractures. The distal femur is where the bone flares out like an upside-down funnel.
Distal femur fractures most often occur either in older people whose bones are weak, or in younger people who have high energy injuries, such as from a car crash. In both the elderly and the young, the breaks may extend into the knee joint and may shatter the bone into many pieces.
The knee is the largest weight bearing joint in your body. The distal femur makes up the top part of your knee joint. The upper part of the shinbone (tibia) supports the bottom part of your knee joint. The ends of the femur are covered in a smooth, slippery substance called articular cartilage. This cartilage protects and cushions the bone when you bend and straighten your knee.
Distal femur fractures vary. The bone can break straight across (transverse fracture) or into many pieces (comminuted fracture). Sometimes these fractures extend into the knee joint and separate the surface of the bone into a few or many parts and these types of fractures are called intra-articular. As they damage the cartilage surface of the bone, intra-articular fractures can be more difficult to treat.
Patients with distal femoral fractures of all ages do best when they can be up and moving soon after treatment (such as moving from a bed to a chair, and walking). Treatment that allows early motion of the knee lessens the risk of knee stiffness, and prevents problems caused by extended bed rest, such as bed sores and blood clots. Because traction, casting, and bracing do not allow for early knee movement, they are used less often than surgical treatments. Multiple surgical options are available and Dr Goudar can discuss with you about the best treatment option for you and your injury.