There are two classifications of fractures- open and closed. This article will talk about open fracture in detail. This kind of fracture is a condition wherein the bone penetrates the skin. It is a more complicated condition, compared to the closed fracture, and requires immediate treatment. This is because if left untreated, infections could set in causing delayed healing and even bigger problems. While most fractures are of the closed kind, open bone injuries do happen and when they do, they can be potentially dangerous.
Open Fracture Types or Classification:
There are four types of open fractures, namely: Type 1, Type II, Type III-A, and Type III-B.
Type 1- the wound is less than a centimeter, and there is only minimal injury of the tissues without contamination.
Type II-the wound is about 1-10 centimeters; the damage is quite extensive in the tissues. You would notice mild to moderate crushing, and there is contamination in the fractured area.
Type III-A- the wound is much larger than 10 centimeters. The extent of damage is very large. There is severe crushing and contamination.
Type III-B- the wound is also larger than 10 centimeters. There is severe contamination, and a lot of tissue loss.
It is much easier to diagnose an open fracture due to the fact that it is visible in the skin. However, for more accurate diagnosis, the following are done:
1. Physical examination to see the extent of the damage
2. CT Scan
3. X-ray radiograph
The above tools should be sufficient to check the severity of the open bone injury. Other doctors may request more advanced diagnostic procedures especially for small wounds, but for the most part, these should be enough to properly assess the condition. Rehabilitation or rehab is required.
Open Fracture Causes
Most common causes of open fractures are sports-related injuries, vehicular accidents, and falls. It is the high impact that triggers the bones to protrude and become visible in the skin. It is almost impossible for open bone fractures to be brought about by diseases and other health conditions.
Aside from the excruciating pain, it is easy to find out if a person has an open bone injury. This is because the wound is visible to the naked eye. If there seems to be a bone protrusion in the skin, then this means the person has an open fracture.
Open Fracture Treatment
First aid treatment of open fractures includes assessment of the fracture to determine severity. Next is to make sure the injured area is immobilized because the condition could worsen when moved. Then, because it is an open wound, it has to be disinfected immediately using iodine tablets or solutions. Dress the wound using the appropriate bandage, and seek medical assistance. The doctor would usually perform surgery to prevent infection and restore bone function. Surgery can be major or just as simple as closing the wound, depending on the severity of the condition. Additionally, antibiotics will be given for the same purpose because it has been found to reduce open fracture infection risk by about 59%. The commonly prescribed antibiotic medications are Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin. Prophylaxis is also used.
Another treatment method, which is in fact a standard operating procedure, is irrigation. This is necessary to prevent infection for open bone injuries, because it is effective in removing foreign matter. Irrigation usually requires about 3 liters of fluid is required although the common practice is 3 liters for type I, 6 liters for type II, and 9 liters for type III-A and III-B. Emedicine is also important.
Open Fracture Healing Time or Recovery Time: It may need more than 8 weeks.
The best way to avoid open fractures is to stay away from accident-prone areas and to practice defensive driving. As mentioned, open fractures are a result of trauma from accidents and injuries so preventive measures should focus on these aspects.
When to Call a Doctor
Some people think that when the wound is small, they can simply clean it and cover with bandage. But this is actually a risky move. Doctors agree that immediate medical attention should be given when there is an open fracture. This is because the risk of infection is very high. Ideally, operative treatment should be given within 5-6 hours. People who do not see a doctor when they have open bone inujuries are potentially at risk for more severe infections, which could lead to bigger problems. When you or someone you know has an open wound, proceed to the hospital right away.