What is a Segmental Fracture?

Segmental Break 

A broken bone could be classified as a segmental fracture or a segmental break. A segmental break is a severe injury because the bone has been broken in more than one location. The fracture lines travel entirely through the bone. As a result, there is at least one portion of bone that is completely separated from the rest of the structure, creating a serious injury.

These segmental breaks typically occur in the middle of long bones such as the humerus, femur, tibia, radius, ulna, or fibula. Because the bone has been broken in multiple locations, there is typically a high-energy accident that precedes the fracture. Fortunately, with proper medical care and rehabilitation, most individuals will recover following a segmental break.

How Does a Segmental Fracture Happen?

A segmental break often takes place in some of the largest bones of the body. Because there are multiple, complete fracture lines through the bone, this break requires a tremendous amount of force. Some of the most common mechanisms include:

  • Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycle accidents are one of the most common causes of a segmental break. In a motorcycle collision, one or more of the limbs is often pinned against the ground. This is enough force to cause multiple fracture lines through some of the body’s thickest bones.
  • Vehicular Ejection: A vehicular ejection can occur if the vehicle rolls or if seat belts are not worn. When someone is ejected from a car, polytrauma can occur, leading to a segmental break.
  • Fall from a Great Height: Falls that take place from a great height, such as the roof of a building, can lead to a segmental break, particularly in the legs. Falls from a great height can lead to multiple injuries that require surgical repair.

Because segmental breaks are serious, immediate medical care is essential. There are several steps involved in the care of a segmental fracture.

The Treatment of a Segmental Break

One of the first steps involved in the treatment of a segmental break is to stabilize the bone. If a broken bone is allowed to move, the injury may worsen, and nearby structures can be injured. To prevent this, the injury site will be immobilized in a splint. The individual will also be given pain medication to make him or her more comfortable.

After this, the doctor will obtain images of the fracture site. This is where the segmental fracture will be identified and diagnosed. This will probably consist of several x-ray images taken from multiple angles. This will help the surgeon plan a practical approach to repairing the injury.

The next step is surgical repair. Typically, the surgeon will wait for the inflammation and swelling at the injury site to go down. Because the bone has been broken entirely in multiple places, portions of the bone are free to move. This can damage nearby structures. A trained surgeon will place screws, plates, or rods to keep the bone lined up correctly.

Once the surgery is completed, the bones will need time to heal. After several weeks, weight-bearing on the injured site can begin. Gradually, exercises will be added that will strengthen the bone. With proper therapy and rehab, most individuals will make a meaningful recovery.

Possible Complications from a Segmental Break

Several complications might occur following a segmental fracture. Some of these complications include:

  • Nerve Damage: Some nerves travel near the long bones where segmental breaks usually happen. One of the bone fragments may damage these nearby nerves.
  • Infection: In a segmental break, the interior structure of the bone is exposed. This may provide a portal through which a bacterial infection can develop. This infection is called osteomyelitis and is often treated with IV antibiotics.
  • Malunion: In some cases, the bone may not heal properly after a segmental fracture. This will lead to functional deficits. This is termed malunion and may lead to a second surgery to repair the bones.

Fortunately, all of these potential problems have treatment options. With prompt medical care, doctors can take steps to minimize the development of these complications, helping individuals to make a full recovery.

Watch YouTube Video: Humerus Segmental Fracture. This short video provides a 3-dimensional look at a humerus segmental fracture.

Sacramento Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Injury Lawyer. A segmental fracture frequently requires a surgical operation to repair the break. If someone you know has needed surgery for a bone fracture, contact me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Image Citation: The photo that is a the top of this article was located first on Pixabay and has been shown here with permission.
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