Fracture types (summary)

Last revised by Yaïr Glick on 23 Nov 2021
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Determining fracture type is really important when looking at a fracture and trying to describe it. Fractures can broadly be split into complete and incomplete fractures.

Reference article

This is a summary article. For more information, you can read a more in-depth reference articles: complete fractures; incomplete fractures.

Fractures can be split into complete and incomplete fractures depending on whether the fracture extends all the way through the bone (complete) or only involves a portion of the cortex:

  • complete
    • the fracture extends right the way across the bone
      • almost all fractures in adults are complete
    • types
      • transverse: a fracture perpendicular to the axis of the bone
      • oblique: a fracture oriented obliquely across the bone
      • spiral: a fracture that looks like a spiral staircase
      • comminuted: a fracture in more than two bits
  • incomplete
    • fracture does not cross the bone completely
      • predominantly occur in children
        • not all childhood fractures are incomplete
        • many children present with complete fractures
    • types
      • bowing: bowing of a long tubular bone
      • buckle: the cortex is buckled, often in the distal radius
      • greenstick: the cortex is broken, but only on one side

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: 3 types of fractures
    Drag here to reorder.
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