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In a complete fracture, the bone is broken into two or more pieces. Types of complete fracture are:

  • segmental
  • transverse
  • spiral
  • butterfly
  • oblique
  • comminuted
  • impacted

In an incomplete fracture, the bone is incompletely divided and the periosteum retains continuity:

  • greenstick
  • compression or crush

Complete fractures are liable to be displaced. If this occurs, then it is worthwhile describing also the displacement. Conventionally this is in terms of:

  • apposition - have the fragments been shifted such that the surfaces are no longer apposed
  • alignment - have the fragments been tilted. Uncorrected malalignment often leads to deformity
  • rotation - have any of the fragments been rotated on its longitudinal axis
  • length - do the fragments overlap or are they distracted

Last reviewed 01/2018