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Femoral Torsion

(Twisting of the Femur; Torsion of the Femur)

By Simeon A. Boyadjiev Boyd, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics, Section of Genetics, Department of Genetics, University of California, Davis

The thighbone may be twisted at birth.

The femoral head is the top part of the thighbone (femur), the largest bone in the leg. The femoral head may be twisted (called torsion) either internally (the knees point toward each other with toes in) or externally (the knees point in opposite directions). Twisting of the femoral head is common among newborns.

Doctors can detect this defect by laying the infant on an examining table and rotating the hips in different directions, noting whether movement is limited.

By adolescence, internal torsion tends to gradually decrease without treatment. Surgery is usually reserved for children who have a spinal defect, such as spina bifida, or those in whom the torsion interferes with the ability to walk. External torsion typically corrects itself, especially after the child begins to stand and walk. Consultation with an orthopedist is needed if external torsion persists after age 8.