Fractures (main)

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Describing Fractures[1]

Types of fractures
Fracture naming construct

A systematic approach for the description of fractures should be used to aid in clear communication with radiologists and consulting specialists.

  • Laterality
  • Open vs. Closed
  • Affected Bone
  • Location
  • Direction (orientation of fracture line relative to long-axis)
    • Transverse
    • Oblique
    • Spiral
    • Impacted
    • Torus / Greenstick (Peds)
  • Alignment
    • Displacement (distal relative to proximal fragment)
      • State in terms of direct measurement (e.g. 4mm) or %width of bones (50% displacement)
    • Angulation
      • Deviation from longitudinal axis, described in degrees and direction
      • Direction of apex of angle formed from redrawn longitudinal axes of fracture fragments
      • Valgus angulation is lateral
      • Varus angulation is medial
    • Rotation
      • Twisting around longitudinal axis (distal relative to proximal fragment)
      • Described as medial or lateral rotation (towards or away from midline respectively)
    • Separation
      • Distance two fragments have been pulled apart (but not offset from each other)
    • Shortening
      • Amount by which a bone's length has been reduced (expressed in mm or cm)
      • May occur by impaction or by overriding
    • Other
      • Incomplete: Only one side of cortex disrupted
      • Stress: Caused by repetitive low-force trauma/impact
      • Pathologic: Caused by trivial trauma or biomechanically routine force, suggestive of abnormal bone.
      • Fracture-Dislocation: Be careful not to describe these injuries as fractures with displacement
  • Fragmentation
    • Segmental (>2 fragments, with one segment not connected to either end)
    • Comminuted (>3 fragments)

Anatomic Terms

  • Diaphysis - shaft
  • Metaphysis - widened ends of the bones adjacent to the physis
  • Physis - radiolucent growth plate between metaphysis and epiphysis
  • Epiphysis - secondary ossification center at the end of the bones
  • Apophysis - secondary ossification center at site of tendon or ligament attachment

Head and Neck

Maxillofacial Trauma

Cervical Spine Fracture and Dislocation Types

Upper Extremity

Humerus Fractures

Humeral anatomy

Elbow

Forearm Fractures

Carpal fractures

AP view

Hand and Finger Fractures

Torso

Chest

Abdomen

Spine

Lower Extremity

Proximal Leg

Distal Leg Fractures

Foot and Toe Fractures

Hindfoot

Midfoot

Forefoot

Other

Management

General Fracture Management

  • Acute pain management
  • Open fractures require immediate IV antibiotics and urgent surgical washout
  • Neurovascular compromise from fracture requires emergent reduction and/or orthopedic intervention
  • Consider risk for compartment syndrome
  • If any limitation to range of motion, orthopedics will often perform elbow arthrocentesis to remove hemarthrosis which is often present
    • The purpose of this is to see whether range of motion is restored after aspiration since if it is not, this may be an indication for surgery
    • This is generally not necessary to perform in the ED but can be done for patient comfort

See Also

References

  1. Wolfson, A. B., Cloutier, R. L., Hendey, G. W., Ling, L., & Schaider, J. (n.d.). Approach to Musculoskeletal Injuries. In Harwood-Nuss' clinical practice of emergency medicine (6th ed.). LWW.