Children's Hospital Colorado
Orthopedics Institute
Orthopedics Institute

Orthopedic Trauma and Fracture

When you bring your child to our program, you're bringing them to one of the top children's hospitals in the nation.

Experts in the pediatric Orthopedic Trauma and Fracture Program at Children’s Colorado treat traumatic injuries of all kinds – whether it’s one broken bone or a critical injury. Our pediatric trauma specialists correct deformities, heal bone infections and mend broken limbs.

Program director Julia Sanders, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of both simple and complex fractures, as well as wounds and injuries caused by simple accidents or major trauma. She and her team work closely with multidisciplinary specialists – rehabilitation providers, infectious disease specialists, nurses, orthopedic surgeons and more – to get your child well.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for trauma and fracture care?

Children’s Colorado has the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the Rocky Mountain region. We care for patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In one location, your child receives family-focused care from a team of specialists. To ensure complete health, we work closely with experts in other fields such as general trauma care, neurovascular injury, infectious diseaseamputation and plastic and reconstructive services.

“Many thanks to everyone at Children’s Colorado for impacting Mason’s road to recovery. Because of the success of his surgery and healing, he can continue to train hard and compete.”
– Ginger Stowell, Mason’s mom

Specific conditions treated

Simple fracture

A fracture is another word for a broken bone, a common injury in kids and teens. Fractures often occur from a fall or from sports, usually in the upper part of the body (arms, wrists and shoulder).

Fracture signs and symptoms include pain, swelling and deformity (a bump or change of shape in the bone). Casting is the most common treatment option, although surgery is occasionally needed. 

You should always have a broken bone assessed by a doctor. Fractures in children can sometimes affect growth plates and result in abnormalities, so it's especially important to be treated by pediatric specialists who can intervene when needed. We specialize in treating supracondylar humerus fracture, the most common kind of elbow fracture in children.


A nonunion is a bone that doesn’t heal properly. While most bones heal on their own, certain factors can put your child at risk. Too much movement or too little blood flow can contribute to nonunion, as can diabetes, anemia and general poor health.

A nonunion can occur anywhere, but commonly are in the femur, tibia and humerus. There are a few treatment options – both surgical and nonsurgical – that range from using a bone stimulator device to bone grafting to revision surgery.


A malunion is a bone that heals in the wrong position. This can happen when fractures are not treated or when previous treatment fails. Malunion can cause severe pain and limited function, necessitating treatment by our orthopedic traumatology specialists.

Treatments can range from physical therapy to post-traumatic reconstructive procedures that utilize osteotomies (cuts in the bone) to restore alignment and proper healing. Since kids’ bones are still developing, natural growth can sometimes correct a deformity or malunion. We monitor the injury very closely in hopes to avoid surgery.

Bone infections

Bone infections in children are particularly difficult to treat. Also known as osteomyelitis, infections can spread from blood, soft tissue or can originate in the bone itself. 

Children have a greater tendency to develop bone infections because their bodies are rapidly growing and changing. We have a dedicated protocol and organized multidisciplinary team to combat bone infections, complete with orthopedic trauma surgeons, infectious disease specialists and radiologists.

Complex fractures

A complex fracture is a particularly severe break and can mean damage to multiple bones, soft tissue, tendons, ligaments or joints. This type of injury often requires emergency orthopedic care. Treatment usually entails surgery, though each case and treatment plan is unique.

Caring for children can be especially challenging as there is the chance that growth centers in the body could be injured, resulting in abnormality. Our team specializes in fractures of the pelvis and acetabulum (hip socket) in particular. These complex fractures are challenging to treat given the proximity to vital organs and blood vessels.


Deformities can cause pain and hinder your child’s ability to walk or function. They can occur when your child is born with a limb that's too long or too short; deformities can also be caused by a traumatic episode or accident. Our pediatric orthopedic trauma specialists can help correct the limb or deformity and restore balance, form and function. Some deformities can be corrected with nonsurgical treatment, but many skeletal issues do require surgery.

Compartment syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a painful condition that can happen after an injury to a muscle that causes the muscle to swell. The compartment that holds the muscle can't stretch, so the swollen muscle doesn't have any room to spread out. This causes an increase in pressure in the muscle, which can stop nourishment from reaching the muscle and nerves. This can eventually lead to tissue death if it is not treated urgently.