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 flavours:

  • translation
    • known by a couple of other names:
      • "translocation"
      • "displacement"
        • confusingly there is inconsistent use of the word
    • a line drawn down the centre 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 centre 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
Share article

Article information

rID: 47405
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.