Pulmonary embolism following an ankle fracture in a 9-year-old boy : A case report

Published online: Aug 27 2012

M. Wade SHRADER, Aaron K. HO, David M. NOTRICA, Lee S. SEGAL

From the Center for Paediatric Orthopaedics, Phoenix Children's Hospital Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.


Venous thromboembolism following trauma is an uncommon event in childhood and associated pulmonary embolus after routine lower extremity fracture is exceedingly rare. We present a case report of postoperative pulmonary embolus following an open reduction and internal fixation of a Salter-Harris IV medial malleolus fracture in a 9-year-old boy. Four days after open reduction and percutaneous pin fixation of the ankle fracture, the child began to experience chest pain and shortness of breath. Computed tomographic angiography demonstrated a pulmonary embolus, and he was started on anticoagulation therapy. The child had no medical history, family history, nor known risk factors for venous thromboembolism other than the fracture, and a thrombophilic work-up revealed no coagulopathies or other blood disorders. He was treated with Coumadin for three months. His orthopedic course was uneventful ; the fracture healed and he returned to normal function. This appears to be the first case reported in the literature of a significant pulmonary embolus after a routine ankle fracture in a child. While insufficient to warrant deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis in all children, this case report suggests that a venous thromboembolic event can occur even in uncomplicated fractures in children.