The Three Bone Fracture Emergencies


The Three Fracture Emergencies

There are three complications of bone fractures that require emergency medical treatment. They are:

  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Open Fractures
  • Neurological and Blood Vessel Injury

Compartment Syndrome

Sam Brown was in a major Woodbridge, Virginia car accident in Prince William County. Several bones in Sam’s mid-foot were fractured and crushed. His leg swelled up like a balloon. The trauma doctor at the emergency room told Sam he developed “compartment syndrome” and needed emergency surgery.

Muscle groups are divided into their own anatomical compartments held together by an unstretchable envelope of fascia (like a tightly closed baggie). Inside each compartment are arteries, veins, nerves and muscles. Severe trauma causes significant bleeding, swelling and pressure build-up within these closed compartments. This is called “compartment syndrome.”

If the resulting pressure build-up within the tightly closed compartment is not released, the arteries, veins, nerves and muscles within the compartment will die from lack of proper blood supply resulting in necrosis and loss of a limb.

A surgical procedure called “fasciotomy” releases the pressure build-up in the compressed compartment. Unfortunately, fasciotomy surgery leaves large, gaping, open wounds often requiring skin grafting.

Open Fractures

An “open fracture” occurs when a bone protrudes and sticks-out of the skin. Because the bone fracture is open to the environment, dirt, debris and bacteria is likely to get into the fracture. Infection often results, and is difficult to cure. Bone infection is called “osteomyelitis.”

The larger the wound and the more time the protruding bone is exposed to the environment are factors which increase the likelihood infection.

A person suffering from an open bone fracture must be rushed to an emergency room where the wound is thoroughly cleaned. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent osteomyelitis. A tetanus shot is given to prevent tetanus.

The patient with an open bone fracture must be taken to the operating room within six hours to have the open fracture debrided and cleaned, followed by fracture stabilization. Sometimes, due to the severe nature of the open fracture with swelling and soft tissue damage, an open reduction internal fixation procedure (“ORIF”) cannot be performed until a later time.

Nerve And Blood Vessel Injury

A common bone fracture complication is nerve injury from a bone fragment which bruises or impinges a nearby nerve.

The most common nerves with nerve injuries from bone fracture fragments in the arm are:

  • the radial nerve
  • the ulnar nerve
  • the median nerve

The most common nerves with nerve injuries from bone fracture fragments in the hip area:

  • the sciatic nerve
  • peroneal nerve

Patients with nerve injury from a bone fracture fragment often have altered or loss of sensation with the feeling of numbness. In addition, loss of muscle contraction is often seen.

Injuries to blood vessels from a bone fracture fragment results in the following symptoms:

  • weak or absent pulse
  • pale arm or leg color
  • capillary refill is weak or absent

Free Bone Fracture Consultation
With Gerald Schwartz

Manassas accident lawyer Gerald Schwartz is a bone fracture attorney with 30 years experience handling complicated broken bone injures caused by car accidents across Northern Virginia.

Gerald Schwartz understands the complications of broken bone injuries and how they change the lives of Virginia accident victims.

To learn more about your bone fracture injury and discuss your legal options, call Virginia bone fracture lawyer Gerald Schwartz toll free at 1-800-423-0055 for a free bone fracture consultation.