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Compound Fractures

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A compound fracture, also known as open fracture, is a fracture of the bone wherein the affected bone penetrates out from the skin and there is laceration of the surrounding soft tissue. A broken bone refers to a fracture, in medical terminology. Bone fractures are quite common, with people experiencing at least two in their lifetime, on an average (Eisenberg, 2007). A fracture occurs when the affected bone is subject to a physical force that is stronger than it can sustain.

Age has a lot to do with the susceptibility to fracture, with it occurring quite commonly in children, although it is usually not as complicated as when fractures occur in adults.

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Older people due to their bones becoming more brittle experience fractures that occur due to falls that would not normally affect younger people (Jonathan Cluett, 2006). Compound fractures usually occur by high impact injuries like sports injuries, heavy falls, and car crashes, and so on. Each individual may experience different symptoms depending on the location and impact of fracture.

Common symptoms of any fracture include swelling of the affected area, inability to carry out functions of the injured area, deformity of limb and bruising around the affected area (Jonathan Cluett, 2006). Since compound fractures require immediate treatment, they are generally a more serious form of fracture. Usually, an operation is required to quickly cleanse the area and realign the bone. In addition, because of the higher chances of infection, a compound fracture is more difficult to heal (Jonathan Cluett, 2006). Therefore, on sustaining a compound fracture, it is important to seek early treatment.

Once the fracture has been diagnosed trough a physical and x-ray examination, the treatment of a compound fracture involves the realignment of the ends of the fractured bones, and immobilization of the fracture, either by fixing the bone internally or by using external splints. Emergency treatment generally involves the administration of antibiotics, the cleansing of the fracture site, and the broken bones stabilized. In severe fractures that cause blood loss, apply direct pressure to control bleeding, and administered fluid replacement as soon as possible to prevent or treat hypovolemic shock (Jonathan Cluett, 2006).

The goal of the treatment is to assist the bone to recover completely in movement, strength, and sensitivity. Immediate surgery is usually required for compound fractures. Since the broken bone comes out of the skin, the affected bone can be highly susceptible to infection due to its exposure to bacteria and debris (Eisenberg, 2007). Once the bone is infected, it is usually difficult to heal, often requiring a number of surgeries, antibiotic treatment for a prolonged period, along with other problems that last a long time. For this reason, it is very important to get early treatment when a compound fracture occurs.

The healing time varies according to the severity of the fracture, and the health and age of the patient. The callus of a healing bone usually shows on an x-ray in about six weeks in adults, and earlier in children (Eisenberg, 2007). However, this first mineralized bone is not as strong as mature bone, which slowly forms by a process of remodeling, which can take up to 18 months. Usually, compound fractures take much longer to heal, due to the amount of injury that the bone and the surrounding tissue sustain, and because of the higher rate of complications caused by non-union of the joints and infections.

Compound or open fracture is a broken bone that penetrates the skin. This is an important distinction because when the broken bone penetrates the skin there is a need for immediate treatment, and often requires operation to clean the area of the fracture. Furthermore, because of the risk of infection, there are more problems with the healing when a fracture is open to the skin. As stated, early treatment can help avoid problems associated with compound or open fractures.


Bontrager, K. L. (2010). Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy. St. Louis: Mosby. Eisenberg, R. L. (2007). Comprehensive Radiographic Pathology. St. Louis: Mosby, Inc. Jonathan Cluett, M. (2006, November 28). Open Fracture. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from Orthopedics: http://orthopedics.org

Cite this Compound Fractures

Compound Fractures. (2016, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/compound-fractures/

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