What Are Comminuted Fractures


Bones are what comprise the framework of our bodies, they provide support, protect your vital organs and allow us to move. Adults will have 206 bones in their bodies, that’s a lot of bones. The good thing is our bones are tough and can take a little bit of abuse but they aren’t indestructible. They will bend a bit but they can and do break which is medically referred to as a fracture. These fractures can be very minor or they can be severe requiring surgery to properly heal. Bones can be broken in a variety of ways such as falling, strong direct force onto the bone, and improper twisting. Fractures come in different types such as simple fractures or the more complicated comminuted fractures.

What are Bone Fractures

Fractures are also classified as either closed or open. With a closed fracture the bone is broken inside of the skin with no exposure to air. With an open fracture, which is much more severe, the bone will cut through the skin and be exposed turning into a compound fracture. The bone is much more susceptible to infection during an open one. Fractures are also classified based upon the alignment of the fracture. If a broken bone maintains its normal alignment it would be a non displaced fracture. If the bone becomes unaligned it would be a displaced fracture. Bone fractures classified by the type of break as well.

  • Oblique – broken at an angle
  • Spiral – a circular break
  • Transverse – broken along the length
  • Greenstick – incomplete break where the bone bends
  • Compression – collapse in the vertebrae
  • Stress – overuse of the bone
  • Comminuted – bone breaks into more than three pieces

The Comminuted Fracture

The most serious case of a broken collarbone is the comminuted fracture because it’s a multi-fragment fracture consisting of three or more pieces. This type of fracture has a higher chance of being an open fracture thus raising the chances of the bone becoming infected. It will take longer to heal than normal compared to the other types of fractures. In order for a bone to splinter into several pieces it would require an unusual  amount of force. Car accidents commonly cause comminuted fractures as well as high falls, gunshot wounds, or bone disease which can cause the bone to weaken.  It’s more common to suffer an open fracture with a comminuted fracture.

Because of the rather extreme nature of this type of fracture you would tend to know if you suffered a comminuted fracture. You would experience extreme pain at the affected site and it would swell up significantly. The pain could be so severe you may even faint. A simple x-ray would tell you for certain the extent of your injury and allow your doctor to ascertain the best course of action for treatment of the fracture. The comminuted fracture may require surgery to place the bone pieces back into alignment to allow them to heal properly. It will take you much longer to heal and require many more doctor visits to make sure the bone is healing properly and guard against infection.