announcement

Help someone with useful health advice.

Comminuted Fracture

Comminuted Fracture

A comminuted fracture is a severe form of bone fracture that requires immediate medical attention. Here is a brief overview about the condition.
Sonia Nair
Bones form the skeletal framework, which provides support to the body, protects the internal organs, and facilitates movement. There are as many as 206 bones in the human body. These bones are usually tough, and can bend a little; but, cannot withstand too much pressure. Such pressure can result in breakage of bones, which are termed fractures; that can range from minor to severe ones, like simple and comminuted fractures respectively. The causes for bone fractures include hard falls, direct blows, and twisting injuries. There are different types of bone fractures, which are classified into broad categories, based on their characteristics.
Classification of Bone Fractures
Bone fractures are classified into closed and open types. In case of closed fractures (simple fractures), the skin will be intact; but if the skin is torn and the bone is exposed, then it is an open fracture or compound fracture, wherein the bone is prone to infection. Bone fractures are also classified as per the alignment of the fractured bones. If the bone is not displaced from its normal alignment, even after the fracture, then it is called non-displaced fracture. Otherwise, it is classified as a displaced fracture.
Bone fractures are classified as per the type of bone breakage. If the bone is broken at an angle, then it is oblique, if the breakage is circular, then it is a spiral fracture (often caused by twisting of bone); and if a bone breaks along its length, it is called a transverse fracture. A greenstick fracture is an incomplete fracture, wherein the bone is bent. A collapse in the vertebrae is called a compression fracture, whereas stress fracture occurs as a result of overuse of the bone.
In short, bone fractures can be open (simple) or closed (compound); and displaced or non-displaced. As per the fracture line, bone fracture can be oblique, spiral, transverse, greenstick, compression, or a stress fracture. Another complicated fracture is comminuted fracture, wherein the bone is broken into several pieces.
What is a Comminuted Fracture?
In this type of fracture, the bone is broken into several pieces. In order to be classified as a comminuted fracture, the bone must be broken into at least three separate pieces. It is considered a serious and complicated bone fracture, especially an open one. If it is an open one, then there are chances of the bone getting infected too. Such open fractures take much longer to heal, when compared to other types.
Normally, bones are tough, and do not yield to mild pressure. It requires a forceful pressure for a bone to get fragmented. Causes for this type of fracture include vehicular trauma, severe falls, or bullet injuries. While elderly people, especially those with diseases of bones like, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) or bone cancer; are most likely to suffer this type of fracture, there are many young people, who suffer from this condition due to road accidents. It has also been observed that, almost all cases of comminuted fractures are open ones, which are more dangerous.
The most common symptoms of a comminuted fracture is severe pain at the affected site. The area may swell up and become warm. The person may also faint due to the severe pain. This condition is usually diagnosed with X-rays. An X-ray of the site is beneficial to decide the course of the treatment; as the details of the fracture, like broken pieces and alignment, can be inferred from the X-ray. Treatment may include surgery to fix the bones, so that they can knit together and heal fast. In some severe cases, the whole bone has to be exposed and fixed with pins, and then placed in its normal position. Even some preventive treatment is required to counter the possibilities of infection. However, healing may take some time, which can be longer than other types of fractures.
In short, a comminuted fracture is very complicated, and needs immediate treatment to prevent complications like infection, which in turn, can lead to loss of limbs or even life. Other possible complications are compartment syndrome, vascular necrosis, and nonunion. A person who is undergoing treatment for comminuted syndrome has to visit the doctor regularly to monitor the healing process.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.