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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Orthopedic surgeons are in a position to identify osteoporosis in patients with fragility fractures; however, although they provide operative care, most orthopedic surgeons do not screen patients for osteoporosis or initiate therapy.
Last year, AAOS joined the American Orthopaedic Association, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association and the International Geriatric Fracture Society in drafting and approving new patient guidelines for preventing fragility fractures.
Second, three components of the VACS Index--older age, higher viral load, and lower hemoglobin (which signals anemia)--had an independent impact of fragility fracture risk.
Knowledge and understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and of fragility fractures is increasing and new treatment options are being developed.
"The results of this study suggest that early menopause is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis, fragility fracture and mortality in a long-term perspective.
Pharmacologic options to prevent subsequent fragility fractures include the bisphosphonates alendronate, risedronate, and zoledronic acid (Reclast), and also the monoclonal antibody denosumab (Prolia).
Twelve years later meta-analysis of seven studies comparing fracture incidence in people with and without HIV calculated a 58% higher incidence of all fractures in the HIV group (pooled incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.25 to 2.00) and a 35% higher incidence of fragility fractures (pooled IRR 1.35, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.65).
A diagnosis of reduced bone density (osteoporosis) does not automatically mean a person will sustain a fragility fracture. Fracture risk is better assessed in combination with lifestyle and other risk factors, and this can then be used to target prevention strategies.
In patients with a prior fragility fracture, femoral neck BMD increased by 2.2% on denosumab and by 0.1% on ibandronate, compared with gains in patients with no prior fracture of 1.5% on denosumab and 1% on ibandronate.
People with osteoporosis have a high risk of fragility fractures, which are fractures that occur from slight trauma (for example, not in a car accident) and generally result from low bone density.
Enrollment criteria were a BMD T score of -2.5 or less at any anatomic site or a T score of -2 or less with one risk factor (fracture or parental hip fracture after age 50, prior hyperthyroidism, inability to rise from a chair with arms elevated, or current smoker) or a T score of--1 or less with a history of a fragility fracture.
Proton pump inhibitor and protease inhibitor use are associated with fragility fracture risk in HIV-positive male veterans.