X-Rays Of My Broken Femur
So you want to actually see some pictures? As I write at week 7 healing is not visible on the x-rays. Hopefully at the end of the list I will eventually get some pictures of a healed fracture. Right now it is week seven and in an adult with as much damage as I had lack of bone growth is not cause for alarm...at least not in front of the patient. No fair grimacing at the pictures. Your acceptible reactions are "Cool" and "How interesting." It did not hurt as much as it looks like it would. Use Alt-Back Arrow or your browser's back button to return to this page after viewing an image.

Here are the anterior and lateral shots of the original fracture. These were done on an older x-ray machine in Beaver, UT my first stop.
Anterior view of femur fracture (17K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (21K)
Here are some clearer shots done in Walnut Creek, CA at the three week mark. They look exactly like the post-operative shots, but are much clearer because of the newness and quality of the x-ray machine. The lateral view shows the original fracture clearly. Both pictures also show what happens if there are complications hammering in the rod. My leg did not want to cooperate with the surgeon. Note the new fracture lines and pieces.
Anterior view of femur fracture (22K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (26K)
Anterior view of rod in hip (26K)
Lateral view of rod in hip (22K)
Just for fun and friends who want to see it, here are two interesting shots of the knee. Note how far down the rod goes. It looks like it could be in the groove from one angle, but may not be in the groove from the other angle. X-ray reading is quite an adventure. Angles change a lot.
Anterior view of rod in Knee (17K)
Lateral view of rod in Knee (15K)
Lighter-Larger Lateral view of rod in Knee (26K)
Week 7, Boulder, CO: Some people's fractures have healed by now. In kids in particular. Mine has not. Both the force of the fracture and the insertion of the rod severly reduced blood flow to the area. This reduces nutrient flow and the ability to heal quickly. I can feel the hard callous that forms at the site, but calcification has not occurred yet. We all hope the week 11 x-rays show some signs of bone growth. The poor image quality is partly due the to darkness of the x-rays (another "older machine") and partly due to the tough angle I had to use to shoot the pictures with my digital camera.
Anterior view of femur fracture (20K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (19K)
Lateral x-ray shooting angle is slightly greater here than in week 3.
Week 11, Boulder, CO: I, of course, was qutie worried when I first looked at these pictures. I still have no idea of what to expect. I am expecting lots of bone growth so when I do not see it I am worried. The doctor however quickly found several positive signs of healing and assorted growth. I did learn recently that healing can occur in anywhere from 12-24 weeks. Perhaps due to the severity of the injury, the surgical complications, and nutritional problems during the first several weeks I am going to be a slow healer. I hope so. (There's a line that would be really odd out of context.) Next month should provide a much better picture. It will be hopefully be the first sequence of x-rays shot on the same machine with the same technician. So far you see four different machines and four slightly different angles.
Anterior view of femur fracture (36K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (29K)
Week 15, Boulder, CO: Same machine, different technician, signs of bone growth, and a bent screw! I, of course, am getting tired of having x-rays taken. I just can't believe it is good for me. But, alas, it is the only way to see what is going on. Even there they can be limited in what they show. There are several signs that healing is occurring. Gaps are smaller, bone is closer to the rod (a sign of remodelling), and several areas have clouded up. You will also notice though that the pictures are taken from a different angle than last time. That makes it hard to really be sure how much has changed. Fortunately, so far they are just looking for continued signs of healing. You will also notice in the anterior view that I bent the dang screw. We might not worry so much except my knee hurts in strange ways (really, too strange to explain) and the nail was already super close to the end of the groove. So far it does not seem to have poked out, but we shall see. That long walk in week 12 may have interesting long term consequences.
Anterior view of femur fracture (19K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (19K)
Week 21, Boulder, CO: Best pictures so far, technically speaking. Very clear shots. Some signs of growth. I am now 1/2 centimeter shorter in the left leg than I was before I bent (or broke, as it looks like) my screw. Of course that is still taller than I was before. I have greater worries though. That slow healing of the large gap is not good. Hopefully as I exercise more things will change. More stresses on the bone will trigger more growth. I still have not walked without a cane or crutches. Ideally that would have happened three months ago, but there were complications. My leg strength seems to have picked up recently. I should be able to fully test my walking ability in another couple of weeks. (I walked out of the pool yesterday, but got tired quickly.) I also need to be careful lest the nail move further.
Anterior view of femur fracture (17K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (21K)
Week 21, Boulder, CO: Interesting close up shot comparison between week 11 and week 21. At week 12.5 I broke or bent the screw and the nail moved about a half a centimeter into the knee. I find it hard to pick out the movement in this picture. One would think that the pieces would be closer together. (Unless the nail moved up near the hip....) Anyhow that set back my attempts at walking for about 7 weeks. The angles are still not perfectly matched, so it is hard to make a precise comparison. We'll see what happens as I work on walking this time.
Side-by-side comparison - Lateral view
Week 27, Boulder, CO: Got bone along the top! Anterior side of leg, lateral view in x-ray, to put it another way. I have been looking at the x-ray sideways for so long I refer to the front of the leg as the top. That is the side I had been visualizing the bone growth on. There it is, and in parts it looks great! There was a piece of bone floating in the gap and it made a beautiful seal along that edge. The bottom, or back side of the leg, has also shown improvement. Not as much as the front, but signs of progress. The other view looks a little better too, though not as significant in its gains.

I am still limping though and still use the cane. Hopefully the next six weeks will see a similar increase in strength and mobility, along with matching improvement in bone growth. So far My limit is about a one mile walk with the cane and about three to four miles on a bicycle. Climbing the stairs, alternating legs and steps, is probably the next milestone I will shoot for. I am still not out of the woods yet. There is lots of room for error and I was introduced to the term fibrous non-union today. I think that was the term, anyway. It means that there is a lot of scar tissue in there and the bone grows around that. It is not as strong as pure bone and thus is not truly healed. The next x-rays are in six weeks. I shall be drinking lots of milk, getting lots of exercise, and visualizing bone growth in the remaining gaps.
Anterior view of femur fracture (13K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (14K)
Week 27, Boulder, CO: Weeks 21 and 27 compared side-by-side in the lateral view. The x-ray angle changed again despite my best efforts to position the leg the same way. There is a lot that you really cannot tell because of the change in position. Still, progress, is progress.
Side-by-side comparison - Lateral view
1 Year, 4 months, Boulder, CO: Dang this takes a while! Bone is growing on two sides. (Anterior and Medial. You have to look closely.) I need three sides to be called healed by medical folks. I get to go back in 3-6 months for another x-ray. There is a chance one of the other two sides will close or have signs of callous. On the plus side I am walking better. The doctor wants me running by the time I come back. He seemed more optimistic than I was when I first looked at the x-rays. Of course I have no idea what to expect. If nothing else my series of x-ray pictures might give some future patient and idea of what to expect over a long period of time.
Anterior view of femur fracture (15K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (14K)
24 months, Boulder, CO: Hypertrophic non-union. Looks nasty. Might be even worse than I think. It sure looks like a joint is forming there, doesn't it? There is such a nice arc across the gap. I think it means that the fracture fixation is unstable. Rerodding the femur is the guess I have heard so far as to what comes next.
Anterior view of femur fracture (24K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (19K)
29 Months, Boulder, CO: We have changed the angle of x-ray again. I visited a new doctor in a new office. In spite of that though, it does look a little better. I changed a bunch of things (see the summary page) that might have helped some healing.
Anterior view of femur fracture (10K)
Lateral view of femur fracture (22K)
Close up lateral view of femur fracture (24K)
Larger lateral view of femur fracture (35K)
3 Years, Denver, CO. The best set of pictures for now is the summary page which compares close-ups of the last two x-rays.
2005 X-ray Update. (About 200K)