Butterfly fragment (fracture)

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 23 Apr 2020

Butterfly fragments are large, triangular fracture fragments seen commonly in comminuted long bone fractures. The term is commonly used in orthopedic surgery, and results from two oblique fracture lines meeting to create a large triangular or wedge-shaped fragment located between the proximal and distal fracture fragments, and resembles a butterfly.

It is often displaced away from the axis of the long bone and may need a separate screw or plate if the fracture is treated with open reduction-internal fixation (ORIF).

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: butterfly segment
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  • Figure 2: butterfly (photo)
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  • Case 1: tibial butterfly fragment
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  • Case 2: humeral butterfly fragment
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  • Case 3: distal humeral fracture with a butterfly fragment
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  • Case 4
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  • Case 5: ulnar butterfly fragment
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