An open fracture is defined as damage that arises once a fracture pierced via the skin. The bone might protrude from the skin or simply means that the skin as well as the soft tissues are disrupted.
An open fracture is an issue of concern since the injury is difficult to heal and infection can lead to serious issues with the healing of the bone and adjacent tissues. Most of the initial treatment for an open fracture is aimed on the prevention of the formation or progression of infection at the site of damage.
Surgical cleaning of the open fracture
The surgical cleaning of the bone is an initial step in managing an open fracture which is called as irrigation and debridement. This involves cleansing the bone and site of damage followed by debridement.
Removal of contaminated or non-functional tissue
Debridement is the second step in caring for an open fracture. The process involves the removal of foreign material along with any non-functional soft tissues.
One way to check if the tissue is still functioning is to assess if it has a blood supply. If not, the tissue is not likely to survive and only increase the risk for infection.
Stabilizing the open fracture can help prevent further damage to the tissues. The ideal approach in stabilizing the bone is based on various factors.
Standard measures to stabilize the bone such as screws or plates or intramedullary rods are not ideal if there is a high risk for bacterial contamination in the wound. In most cases of open fractures, an external fixation is utilized to stabilize the injury.
Antibiotics are vital in the treatment for an open fracture. The suitable antibiotic is based on the type and seriousness of the injury.
The drugs must be started as soon as possible even before irrigation and debridement has been performed. Generally, the antibiotics are continued for 48 hours. If the infection is serious, it is continued for a longer span of time.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on an open fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn how the injury is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Ottawa First Aid.