Plastic deformities (sometimes known as bowing or bending fractures) are almost exclusively limited to the forearm and lower-leg long bones. Usually this pattern of injury is noted in combination with a completed fracture of the other bone of the forearm or lower leg. The cortex of the diaphysis of the long bone is deformed, with preservation of the periosteum all along the diaphysis. Such injuries result from the compliance and porosity of the child's bones, with the associated tendency to deform (bend) rather than fracture in the traditional sense.
Diagnosis is made radiographically. Proper interpretation of the radiographs requires an awareness of the normal shape of the long bones involved, since fracture lines and disruptions in the periosteum are absent.
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