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breaking of a bone. A simple fracture is one in which there is no contact of the broken bone with the outer air, i.e., the overlying tissues are intact. In a comminuted fracture the bone is splintered. In greenstick fracture (common in children) one side of the bone is fractured and the other side bent. In multiple fracture there is more than one break. A compound fracture is one in which the broken bone is in contact with the air because there is a wound through the skin; the bone may project through the wound. The bones of older people are especially liable to fracture, although no age is exempt. Fractures are caused most often by injury, although certain pathological conditions may predispose a bone to fracture. Osteoporosis, the leaching of calcium from the bone, can cause spontaneous fractures, as can malnutrition and cancer. A person with a fracture should not be moved unless the broken bone has been splinted or otherwise immobilized (see first aidfirst aid,
immediate and temporary treatment of a victim of sudden illness or injury while awaiting the arrival of medical aid. Proper early measures may be instrumental in saving life and ensuring a better and more rapid recovery.
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). Proper setting of bones and the application of a cast should be performed by a doctor. X rays aid in the repositioning of the bone as well as in determining the state of healing. Surgery that involves implanting metal pins or screws to join broken bones may be necessary; in certain cases traction devices are used to align bone fragments. Skull and jaw fractures require special treatment.



(in medicine), a disruption of the anatomical integrity of bone as a result of injury.

Fractures are extremely rare during the intrauterine life of a fetus. Spontaneous fractures involve a history of bone disease, while traumatic fractures do not; the latter type can be either closed or open, depending on whether there is an external wound. Traumatic fractures are further classified as occurring with or without displacement of fragments and as being oblique, transverse, or comminuted. Fractures usually arise because of extreme mechanical stress at the moment of trauma. Chronic fractures, due to slight, prolonged stress, are less common. Half of all fractures occur in the upper extremities, one fourth in the lower extremities, and the total incidence is three to four times greater in men than in women.

The symptoms of fracture are severe local pain, deformation, abnormal mobility, and functional impairment of the extremity. X-ray diagnosis must be used to determine the site of the fracture, the type of displacement of the fragments, and the method of treatment. The destruction of bone and injury to the surrounding soft tissues cause internal bleeding in closed fractures and external bleeding in open ones. Traumatic shock may follow multiple or severe open fractures of large bones.

The integrity and mechanical function of a broken bone are restored as the bone first forms a central callus and then a definitive one. The time required for bones to heal is affected by the presence of other injuries and by the severity of injury to the soft tissues that surround the fracture; other factors are the extent of displacement of the fragments and the victim’s general physical condition.

First aid for fractures calls for immobilization of the fragments in the fracture zone using special splints or improvised materials. In open fractures and traumatic shock, prompt medical attention is required. Severe bleeding from the wound can be arrested with a tourniquet. The bone fragments should be juxtaposed as closely as possible and immobilized throughout the healing period; this is usually effected with a plaster cast or by skeletal traction. Complications of fractures include injury to large blood vessels and nerves, suppuration in the fracture zone, and failure of the fragments to unite; all of these conditions require special treatment.

With age, bones become increasingly fragile, and this explains the high incidence of fractures after slight injury in the elderly. Because of the greater flexibility of their bones, children often suffer subperiosteal fractures, often close to a joint. Fractures in children are mostly treated by juxtaposition of the fragments with application of a plaster cast; less commonly, skeletal traction is used, and surgery as a therapeutic recourse is very rare.


Kaplan, A. V. Zakrytye povrezhdeniia kostei i sustavov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Watson-Jones, R. Perelomy kostei i povrezhdeniia sustavov. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from English.)



A crack, joint, or fault in a rock due to mechanical failure by stress. Also known as rupture.
The breaking of bone, cartilage, or teeth.
A break in a mineral other than along a cleavage plane.
(science and technology)
The act, process, or state of being broken.
The surface appearance of a freshly broken material.
The break produced by fracturing.


1. Med
a. the breaking or cracking of a bone or the tearing of a cartilage
b. the resulting condition
2. Mineralogy
a. the characteristic appearance of the surface of a freshly broken mineral or rock
b. the way in which a mineral or rock naturally breaks
References in periodicals archive ?
With increasing dispersant levels (not shown), the approach to percolation causes the microstructures to be dominated by the brittle dispersant, which would eliminate plastic deformation and result in true brittle failure behavior.
The current study reveals that despite the brittle failure modes of the GFRP structures, failure takes place in a progressive manner by sustaining the axial load at a consistent level throughout the history of crush.
Dynamic crack propagation with the detection of fracture toughness criteria is predicted brittle failure with initial velocity.
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From these efforts it was established that three distinct regions with different failure processes can be recognized [5-8]: (I) ductile failure, (II) brittle failure, and (III) degradation controlled failure, as illustrated in Fig.
Finally, the granite fractures suddenly and the stress drops to a residual stress level indicating that the sample has brittle failure characteristics.
Typically with 40 dB amplification, less than a second before brittle failure the acquisition system saturates resulting in clipped waveforms.
The design rules of the lifting hooks require to use ductile materials to avoid brittle failure, however, the stress triaxiality reduces the ductility and the danger of brittle failure increases.
He assumed that brittle failure would ensue from naturally occurring small cracks or defects and that the unstable extension of the largest of these would determine the fracture strength.