Compound Fractures are also known as open fractures and occur when the bone breaks and is sticking through the skin. This type of fracture is usually a more severe type because of the bone sticking out through the skin. However, the bone does not have to be sticking out through the skin for it to be a compound fracture. As long as the skin is broken around the broken bone so outside air can get to the broken bone, it is considered a compound fracture. This is the main reason why there is so much concern about compound fractures.
When the skin is broken around the site of the fracture, the area is open to the outside, allowing air such as dirt, dust and contamination to enter the site. This puts the patient at high risk of developing an infection. If an infection starts, the process of healing will be much longer with possible side effects. Compound fractures are usually treated with surgery so the surgeon can clean out the wound and make sure the fracture is stabilized at the same time. It’s very important that patients with compound fractures get immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.
If dirt or other debris manages to get to the site of the fracture and cause infection, the infection can go directly to the bone and cause serious complications. Infection to a bone is often very difficult to heal. At the very least, it may take a long time as well as be painful to the patient. With the severe pain the patient is dealing with from the compound fractures, they don’t need the additional pain and discomfort from an infection. Treatment for bone infections of this type are antibiotic treatment for a possible long period as well as multiple surgeries if different complications arise. The long-term recovery is going to take longer as well. Even with early treatment of compound fractures, the patient is still at risk of bone infections.
They may be different causes of compound fractures (open fractures), but the most common cause is severe injuries such as car accidents, large falls or serious sports accidents or injuries. There are times when compound fractures may occur with patients with weakened bones that fall very hard, but these occurrences are rarer.
Recovery from a compound fracture is going to be longer than a normal fracture because not only the bone was injured, but the surrounding tissues and skin. Another serious possibility of compound fractures is non-union, which is where the bones do not totally heal together as they should.