Pediatric orthopedics and traumatology

Pediatric orthopedists and hand surgeons examine and treat musculoskeletal injuries, diseases, tumours, congenital malformations and developmental disorders of the skeleton. Injuries that typically require emergency care include fractures and various ligament, tendon and nerve injuries.

Fracture patients are the single largest patient group in pediatric orthopedics and traumatology. Over half of the Finnish population suffers at least one fracture before their growth is complete. The majority of fractures in growing children are conservatively treated using plaster splints and casts. When necessary, bone fractures are reset and held in place with rods, nails, screws or plates, and the operation is typically performed under general anesthetic.

Tendon and nerve injuries are rare in children and their treatment usually requires surgery.

Birth fractures are also rare and usually heal quickly without surgery. Brachial plexus birth injury causes permanent functional damage in one in five children. However, some of them will benefit from surgical treatment.

In addition to injuries, patients are also referred to orthopedists and hand surgeons for various diseases, tumors, congenital malformations and developmental abnormalities of the skeleton. Pediatric orthopedists are experts in the treatment of congenital malformations of the limbs and spine. Most of these patients will benefit from surgical treatment. Children with club foot are treated using the Ponseti method where the baby's foot is gently manipulated into position and put in a cast; this is then repeated several times. Congenital hip dislocation is treated with braces.

In most cases, tumors in growing children are benign and surgery is performed only when necessary. The treatment of malignant musculoskeletal tumors requires collaborative effort by experts from various fields. Surgery is typically only part of the treatment.

In the HUS area, the most demanding orthopedic and traumatology operations on children are performed exclusively at the New Children's Hospital. These operations include the treatment of severe congenital malformations and developmental disorders, severe brachial plexus birth injuries, malignant tumors and demanding limb lengthening and/or osteotomy.

In Finland, demanding surgeries to treat bone dysplasia in children are exclusively performed at the New Children's Hospital by specific decree. Also by decree, pediatric scoliosis is treated in Oulu, Tampere and Helsinki (New Children's Hospital).