Fracture care is a mainstay of orthopedics and it involves injuries to the long bones as well as the surrounding joint surfaces. Fracture evaluation begins with a thorough history and physical examination followed by X-rays. Depending upon the nature of the fracture, other workups including CT scans and MRI studies may be required. The location, displacement and involvement of associated joints often determines whether or not surgical management will be required. Nonsurgical management for fractures typically involves splints or casts. Surgical management typically requires plates, screws, pins or rods.
Common Fracture Terminology
Fracture or break: synonyms that indicate disruption of a bone
Open or compound fracture: the fractured edge of the bone came through the skin at the time of injury
Displacement: how far the fractured ends of the bone have moved compared to their normal position
Intra-articulation: a fracture that extends into a joint
Comminuted: a bone that has broken into more than two pieces
Common Orthopedic Diagnostic Studies
Depending on the nature and location of an injury, various orthopedic diagnostic studies will be ordered. Almost always, the initial evaluation will include X-rays. Other commonly performed diagnostic studies include MRI, CT scan, bone scan and ultrasound. Each of these diagnostic modalities has different indications that are based upon the nature of the injury being evaluated. For example, X-ray and CT scan studies are typically performed to better assess bony injuries, while MRI and ultrasound studies provide more information regarding soft tissues.
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