Fracture displacement (summary)

Dr Craig Hacking and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Describing fracture displacement is really important when assessing a fracture. The type and degree of displacement will have a significant effect on the management plan and prognosis.

Reference article

This is a summary article. For more information, you can read a more in-depth reference articles: fracture displacement.


When describing a fracture, displacement is important to assess and describe. It comes in three main flavors:

  • translation
    • known by a couple of other names:
      • "translocation"
      • "displacement"
        • confusingly there is inconsistent use of the word
    • a line drawn down the center of the bone is not continuous
      • there is a step at the fracture site
    • describe
      • the direction of translation of the distal fracture component
      • the amount of translation (as a percentage of bone width)
  • angulation
    • a line drawn down the center of the bone is angled at the fracture
    • describe
      • direction of angulation of the distal fracture component
      • the amount of angulation in degrees (estimate)
  • rotation
    • a difficult thing to assess on plain radiographs
    • usually evident clinically and common in spiral fractures​
Medical student radiology curriculum
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rID: 47405
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