Because growth plates haven't hardened into solid bone, they are difficult to interpret on X-rays. Doctors may ask for X-rays of both the injured limb and the opposite limb so that they can be compared.
Sometimes a growth plate fracture cannot be seen on X-ray. If the child is tender over the area of the growth plate, your doctor may recommend a cast or a splint to protect the limb. X-rays are taken again in three to four weeks and, if there was a fracture, new bone healing will typically be seen at that time.
For more-serious injuries, scans that can visualize soft tissue — such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) or ultrasound — may be ordered.
June 16, 2016
- Growth plate injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Growth_Plate_Injuries. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- Growth plate fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00040. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- Mathison DJ, et al. General principles of fracture management: Fracture patterns and description in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Common fractures. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 29, 2016.
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- Shaughnessy WJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 16, 2016.