The Open Fracture

Everyone knows what a fracture is and most people have an idea of what to expect with a basic fracture. However, what if there is a fracture associated with a laceration to where you can see the bone? This is what we call an open fracture. An example of an instance when you might see a Podiatrist for an open fracture is when you try to battle a lawnmower with your foot.

What should you expect if you suffer an open fracture?

  • Much is dependent on how much time has past since the initial injury.
  • There is also a classification system that is determined by the size of the laceration and the extent of soft tissue damage.
    • This classification system is the Gustillo & Anderson system. This system also determines the antibiotic to be used. Quite handy to be honest. Takes the guesswork out.

So what should you expect…

  • Lots of irrigation. There is a saying in the medical field: The solution to pollution is dilution. It is important to wash out as much debris as possible.
  • Obvious antibiotics that will be determined by the severity of the injury.
  • To Close and Fixate OR Not:
    • Immediate closure of the wound with fixation of the fracture depends on time from injury to presentation. The magic number is within 6 hours. Within that time, you might expect to be taken to the OR for irrigation, fracture fixation, and wound closure.
    • Presentation after 6 hours from injury and you should expect treatment in delayed fashion. What this means is that your wound will still be irrigated copiously, but fracture fixation and wound closure will be delayed until appropriate antibiotic and antiseptic wound dressings. Some physicians might apply an external fixation device to stabilize the fracture until it is deemed appropriate to permanently fixate the fracture and close your wound.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have suffered an open fracture, please go straight to the E.R. ASAP. Time is of the essence. If you are in need of a foot and ankle specialist, please contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit

Photo Credit: Hans VIA

Category: Foot Problems

Tags: Feet, open fracture