What is Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
A Compound or an Open fracture is a type of fracture in which the broken bone fragments penetrate through the skin surface and are exposed to outside environment and can be seen visibly. Such fractures occur mainly due to high impact motor vehicle collisions, severe assault, or severe injuries.
A Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture is quite a serious injury as the bone sticks out of the skin and is exposed to all sorts of contaminants in the environment increasing the chances of infection. Additionally, Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture may also result in injuries to other nerves or soft tissues in the adjoining areas. As Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture tends to damage surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments hence they have a higher risk for complications and take much more time to heal than closed fractures.
What are the Causes of Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
As stated, Compound Fractures occur only because of some type of high energy collision such as an automobile crash. Falling from a good height on uneven surface on to the leg may also result in Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture. An individual can also have a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture after being hit by a speeding car as a pedestrian.
A gunshot wound to the shin or calf area may also cause a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture. Elderly people may also suffer from Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture as their bones become brittle and weak with age and a simple fall on uneven surface may result in a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
Another cause for a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture may be when an individual is hit or assaulted by a heavy and sharp enough object on the leg with such force that the wound penetrates the bone and the bone breaks and juts out of the skin.
What are the Symptoms of Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
In a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture, there will be a deep wound through which bone fragments will be visible. The affected individual will be unable to move the leg and there will be visible swelling and excruciating pain on the affected leg. There will also be a visible deformity of the affected leg. There will be profuse bleeding from the wound due to Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture. The individual will also not be able to stand up or ambulate to any significant degree after sustaining Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture.
How is Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture is quite easy as there will be visible bone fragments jutting out through the skin when the individual presents to the emergency room. Radiological studies in the form of x-rays, MRI, and CT scans may be done to look at the extent of the fracture and also assess the damage that has been done to the surrounding structures. It is important here to tell the physician if you have any other underlying conditions like diabetes or hypertension or any allergies to certain medications, so that the physician is able to formulate a treatment plan best suited for you.
How is Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture Treated?
Any type of Compound Fracture is best treated with surgery. The treatment for Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture begins as soon as you present to the emergency room. The physician will first place the affected leg in a splint so as to maintain alignment of the bones as much as possible and also to maintain the length of the leg. The patient will be given pain medications for pain relief. The next step towards treatment will be a surgical procedure to fix the compound tibia or fibula fracture.
There are basically two types of surgery performed to fix a compound tibia or fibula fracture. The first surgery is called as external fixation and the second surgery is called as intramedullary nailing.
External Fixation for Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture: In this procedure, metal pins or screws are placed in the bone above and below the fracture site. These pins and screws are attached to a metal bar outside the skin to hold the pins and screws in place and keep the bones aligned so that they can heal. This is normally a temporary measure in cases of Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture and is done to align the bones while the patient recuperates and gets ready for the main surgery which is to permanently fix the fractures.
Plates and Screws: In this surgical procedure for compound tibia or fibula fracture, the bone fragments are first repositioned into their normal alignment and are held together with special screws and plates which are attached to the outer surface of the bone to fix the compound tibia or fibula fracture.
What is the Recovery Period for Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture?
Normally, for Compound Tibia or Fibula Fracture, it takes roughly 6 to 8 months for an individual to recover and get back to normal activities. In some cases, recovery period may even take longer depending on the severity of the injury and the complexity of the procedure to fix compound tibia or fibula fracture.
Postsurgery, the patient will be asked to put some weight on the affected leg to look for instability, and as and when the patient heals, patient will be asked to put more weight on the affected leg. Once the patient is able to weight bear, they will be given crutches or a walker to support ambulation.
Next step towards recovery is physical therapy where a physical therapist will give you exercises to strengthen the injured area and improve flexibility and range of motion of the injured leg after recuperating from a compound tibia or fibula fracture.
- OrthoInfo – AAOS: “Open Fractures”: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/open-fractures
- Cleveland Clinic: “Tibia and Fibula Fractures”: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17971-tibia-and-fibula-fractures
- WebMD: “Understanding Fractures — the Basics”: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/understanding-fractures-basic-information
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