What is Compound Femur Fracture?

A compound femur fracture is a severe case of fracture in which the fragments of the bone penetrate though the covering skin and the soft tissues. It is also referred as open fracture as the wound is very deep. Compound femur fracture usually occurs in case of major accident or high energy trauma and thus it involves a lot of damage to the surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles. Also there is high probability of complications due to chances of infections.

What is Compound Femur Fracture?

What is a Femur?

The femur is the longest bone present in the human body located in the thigh, also referred as thigh bone it is also the strongest bone of our body that supports the maximum weight of the body and helps us in running, walking or jumping. As it is the strongest bone, fracturing of femur can occur only in case of an extremely high impact like a car accident.

Where is the Femur Bone?

Femur bone is located very close to the center of the body in the thighs between the hips and the knees. It is segmented into various sections like head, medial and lateral condyles.

Causes of Compound Femur Fracture

Compound femur fractures mostly occur as a result of a high impact direct blow on the thigh or any other high-energy trauma like falling from a great height, car crash etc... There are also a few cases in which compound femur fracture can occur due to indirect blow like high energy twisting of the thigh.

Signs and Symptoms of Compound Femur Fracture

As compound femur fracture is a serious physical injury, the signs and symptoms are very clear as you can see the fragments of the broken bone coming out of the covering tissues and protrudes through the skin.

Risk Factors for Compound Femur Fracture

There are certain factors that can make you more vulnerable to the compound femur fracture. They include:

  • Use of tranquilizers can be a risk factor for compound femur fracture.
  • Proton pump inhibitors.
  • Osteoporosis is a factor of risk for compound femur fracture.
  • Lack of body movement/regular physical activity can be a risk factor for compound femur fracture.
  • Weak bones, cancer and earlier cases of fracture are all factors of risk for compound femur fracture.

Complications in Compound Femur Fracture

Complications in Compound Femur Fracture

Compound femur fracture is usually associated with multiple serious injuries as it occurs only in case of a severe accident or a high impact. Some of these injuries can be even life threatening.

Depending on the severity of the compound femur fracture, there can be a large spectrum of injuries associated with it including exposure of bone and muscles and severe damage to the blood vessels and nerves covering the bone. Exposure of the bones and muscles increases the danger of contamination.

  • Fractures and Injuries are a complication of compound femur fracture. There are several types of complications that can occur from compound femur fracture. The femur bone can be broken along the length or across and the sharp edges of the bones easily pierce through the soft tissues causing more damage. The severe impact can lead to tearing and crushing of bone as well as tissues. The fragments of the shattered bone can further penetrate the soft tissues and also the delicate neurovascular tissues.
  • Contamination of the injury is a complication in compound femur fracture. The exposed bones and muscles due to injury can result into contamination depending upon the amount of fabric, broken glass, dirt and other foreign entering into the wound.
  • Infection is also a possible complication in compound femur fracture. Compound femur fracture always poses a threat of infection but the severity of infection depends on many factors like the amount of damage to the bone, blood vessels, nerves, soft tissues etc... All of these increase the threat of infection. Infection to the bone is a very complicated situation that cannot be eliminated easily and requires a very long period of consistent antibiotic treatment along with proper surgery. If the infection gets very serious, removal of limb with a surgery can become necessary. The main focus of the initial part of treatment is to get rid of the infection as early as possible.

Compound Femur Fracture can lead to serious complications. Some of them are as follows.

  • As discussed above, infection is the most common among all the complications that can occur in case of femur fracture. Infection can happen at the very stage during healing or even later. The risk of infection depends on the amount of damage to the soft tissues surrounding the injury.
  • Unlike other wounds, compound femur fractures do not heal easily and thus additional surgery may be required in some cases. The surgical methods make use of bone grafts or other internal fixation components to facilitate easy healing.
  • One of the most complicated situations of compound femur fracture is the development of acute compartment syndrome. It is a medical condition in which muscles start to exert too much pressure leading to a dangerous situation. If timely treatment is not provided, the situation can get worse and can also cause permanent disability or even death of tissue.

Tests to Diagnose Compound Femur Fracture

The experts would start with a comprehensive examination of the compound femur fracture to check for the severity of damage to nerves, soft tissue and blood vessels. It is usually not very hard to detect the case of compound femur fracture as you can easily observe a shattered edge of the bone protruding out of the soft tissues.

X-rays are most helpful in detecting the severity of the compound femur fracture and also get a detailed view of the fracture. Sometimes blood and urine tests are also conducted to check for any other health issues.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 13, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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