MedSchool: Ace Your OSCEsThe Medical Company
GET - On the App Store
Ortho X-Ray

Types of Fracture


Complete Fractures

  • Complete fractures are breaks all the way through the bone, producing two or more fragments of bone.
    • Complete Fractures
    • Interpretation

    • Transverse fracture - a fracture straight across the bone
    • Oblique fracture - a fracture at an angle to the bone
    • Spiral fracture - a corkscrew-shaped fracture around the boneOccurs due to twisting of a long bone
    • Comminuted fracture - the bone has been shattered into multiple pieces
    • Avulsion fracture - avulsion of a fragment of bone away from the main body of the bone

Incomplete Fractures

  • Incomplete fractures (fissures, torus and greenstick fractures) are breaks that do not pass through the entirety of a bone. They may be associated with bending of a long bone.
    • Significance

    • Children's bones are softer and more flexible than adults', and therefore are more prone to bending and incomplete fractures. If the force applied on the bone is greater than the mechanical strength of the bone then it will remain bent.
    • Incomplete Fractures
    • Interpretation

    • Bowing fracture - bending without visible breakAngulated longitudinal force
    • Fissure - incomplete cortical break without bending
    • Torus (buckle) fracture - bending with compression fracture and outward bulging of the cortexAxial loading
    • Greenstick (buckle) fracture - bending of a bone on one side with a crack on the opposite side.Angulated longitudinal force or direct perpendicular trauma
Want more info like this?
  • Your electronic clinical medicine handbook
  • Guides to help pass your exams
  • Tools every medical student needs
  • Quick diagrams to have the answers, fast
  • Quizzes to test your knowledge
Sign Up Now


 Armstrong A. Simple Elbow Dislocation. Hand clinics. 2015;31:521-531. Brown JH, DeLuca SA. Growth plate injuries: Salter-Harris classification. American family physician. 1992;46:1180. Clark TWI, Janzen DL, Logan PM, Ho K, Connell DG. Improving the detection of radiographically occult ankle fractures: Positive predictive value of an ankle joint effusion.Clinical Radiology. 1996;51:632-636. Eisenberg RL. Bubbly lesions of bone. AJR. American journal of roentgenology. 2009;193:W79.
Fitzpatrick LA. Secondary causes of osteoporosis. Mayo Clinic proceedings. 2002;77:453-468.
 Foulk DM, Mullis BH. Hip Dislocation: Evaluation and Management. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2010;18:199. Goost H, Wimmer MD, Barg A, Kabir K, Valderrabano V, Burger C. Fractures of the ankle joint: investigation and treatment options. Deutsches Ärzteblatt international. 2014;111:377. Hellinger D, Swagerty J, Daniel L. Radiographic Assessment of Osteoarthritis. American Family Physician. 2001;64:279. Hobbs DL. Fat pad signs in elbow trauma. Radiologic technology. 2005; 77-93. Hunter TB, Peltier LF, Lund PJ. Radiologic history exhibit. Musculoskeletal eponyms: who are those guys? Radiographics : a review publication of the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. 2000;20:819. Jacobson HG. Dense bone--too much bone: radiological considerations and differential diagnosis. Skeletal radiology. 1985;13:1-20, 97-113. Johnson MW. Acute knee effusions: a systematic approach to diagnosis. American family physician. 2000;61:2391. Mathison DJ, Teach SJ. Approach to Knee Effusions. Pediatric Emergency Care. 2009;25:773-786. Murphy F, Gunn H. Eponyms in imaging of the upper limb: A historical review. Radiography. 2012;18:123. Old JL, Calvert M. Vertebral compression fractures in the elderly. American family physician. 2004;69:111.
Sliker CW, Steenburg SD, Archer-Arroyo K. Emergency radiology eponyms: part 1--Pott's puffy tumor to Kerley B lines. Emergency Radiology. 2013;20:103.
 Somford MP, Wiegerinck JI, Hoornenborg D, van den Bekerom, Michel P J, Eygendaal D. Eponyms in elbow fracture surgery. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery / American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons .. [et al.]. 2015;24:369. Towbin R, Dunbar J, Towbin J, Clark R. Teardrop sign: plain film recognition of ankle effusion. American Journal of Roentgenology. 1980;134:985.
Van Riet RP. Elbow dislocations. Current Orthopaedic Practice. 2008;19:616-620.
Wong PK, Hanna TN, Shuaib W, Sanders SM, Khosa F. What's in a name? Lower extremity fracture eponyms (Part 2). International Journal of Emergency Medicine (Online). 2015;8.
Wong PK, Hanna TN, Shuaib W, Sanders SM, Khosa F. What's in a name? Upper extremity fracture eponyms (Part 1). International Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2015;8:1-8.
 Yufit P, Seligson D. Malleolar ankle fractures. A guide to evaluation and treatment. Orthopaedics and Trauma. 2010;24:286-297.