An impacted fracture is a fracture in which the bone breaks into multiple fragments which are driven into each other. This type of fracture can present some challenges when it comes to setting the fracture and waiting for it to heal. Impacted fractures are usually treated by orthopedic surgeons and a support team which includes operating room staff who keep the patient safe during the surgery used to set the bone.
This type of fracture is usually caused by something like a fall, especially if someone breaks a fall with the arms or legs. The impact of the fall is such that not only are the bones broken, but pieces of bone push into each other with the force of the fall. These fractures are usually very painful and also very noticeable; the fracture will not be confused with a lesser sprain.
X-ray imaging is used to visualize fractures to determine the location and nature of the break. In an impacted fracture the X-ray will show small pieces of bone around the site of the fracture, and it will also show compression and compaction. Correcting the fracture requires decompressing the fracture, making sure that all of the pieces are accounted for, and casting so that the bone has a chance to heal. In some cases, pins, rods, and other devices may be used to hold the bone in place during the healing because the bone cannot support itself.
The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture especially in elderly adults. When someone falls and breaks the femoral neck it can result in an impacted hip fracture. Because the hip is a large and critical bone, such fractures usually need to be pinned and there may be cases in which hip replacement is required because the bone is too badly damaged. This can usually be determined by looking at the X-rays of the fracture, but sometimes the surgeon must actually see the fracture in the operating room to get a clear idea of what is happening.
Surgeons generally recommend operating as quickly as possible if surgery is needed to correct an impacted fracture. This will reduce the risk of complications for the patient. When emergency surgery is required, it is helpful for the surgical team to know when someone last ate or drank, what kind of medications the person is on, if there are any allergies, and if the patient has a history of major surgery or other major medical events.