What is an open (compound) fracture?

An open fracture involves an open wound. It occurs when the end of a bone tears through the skin. An object that goes into the skin and breaks the bone, such as a bullet, also can cause an open fracture. Open fractures are dangerous because they carry a risk of infection and severe bleeding.

An open fracture, also called a compound fracture, occurs when the end of a broken bone breaks the skin open. Because of the open skin, the risk of a dangerous infection is very high with this type of fracture, and a doctor's immediate care is vital. Surgery is sometimes required to treat these injuries in order to put in a screw, wire, plate, or other device to hold the parts of a fracture in the right position for healing. Unless there are complications, your fracture should take three to 10 weeks to heal.

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

An open fracture is also called a compound fracture. When this type of fracture occurs, the bone is broken and also punctures the skin, leaving the bone exposed to the environment. Because of this exposure, by definition, it is infected. Seek immediate attention from an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Surgery will be required as well as  irrigation and debridement of the wound.

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicologist

An open fracture is a fracture where the broken bone has penetrated the skin and is exposed to the outside environment. These injuries have a higher likelihood of complications including infection and require immediate medical care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.