stable/unstable fractures


Stable fractures are usually transverse, greenstick, or spiral.

What about longitudinal fractures - are they stable?

Unstable fractures are usually comminuted or oblique?

What about spontaneous (pathological) or displaced - are they unstable (they look unstable in the diagram)?


TazziRN, RN

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Daytonite, BSN, RN

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An unstable bone fracture is one where the bone is no longer in its correct anatomical alignment, has become displaced, is positioned at an odd anatomical angulation or shortened. The only fractures that are not unstable are linear (fissured) as in some fractures of flat bones and perhaps epiphyseal fractures where there has been no displacement of the ends of the bones. The very important factor that makes a fracture stable is that the ends of the fractured bone must be in their correct anatomical alignment. Most fractures are unstable and require some kind of treatment to restore and maintain them in their normal anatomic alignment. Some of the treatment modalities include manual or surgical manipulation to put the ends of the bone back into place and then applying a cast or other fixation device, or placing the bone in traction. If the treatment that was applied was not adequate to maintain the fractured bone in it's correct anatomical alignment the fracture can become unstable again. Unstable fractures that are not adequately treated result in permanent deformity of the bone (displacement, odd angulation, shortening). If a stable fracture is not maintained and supported in correct anatomical alignment, it will become unstable and heal incorrectly resulting in permanent deformity (displacement, odd angulation, shortening). - includes a picture of a greenstick fracture - you can view pictures of various types of fractures from this web page

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