Fracture complications (summary)

This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Assessment of fracture complications is key to accurate assessment of a fracture. It is vital to assess for these when describing a fracture.

Reference article

This is a summary article. There is no accompanying reference article.


When describing a fracture, it is important to keep an eye out for any of the complications that commonly occur at the time of injury. These are distinct from fracture displacement:

  • compound fracture
    • a fracture that has extended through the skin
      • may be occult on an x-ray
      • compound at scene may be reduced by x-ray
      • look for gas bubbles and soft-tissue injury
  • joint involvement
    • does a fracture extend to the joint
    • involvement of the joint makes prognosis worse
      • increased risk of joint osteoarthritis
  • other fractures
    • is there another injury
      • paired structures, e.g. radius and ulnar
      • ring structures, e.g. pelvis, mandible
Medical student radiology curriculum

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rID: 47406
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