A compound injury, also known as an open fracture, occurs when there is a break in the skin around a broken bone. Unlike a simple fracture, this type is more serious because it has the potential to expose the fracture site to external dirt and bacteria, increasing the risk of infection. Even if the bone does not break through the skin entirely, any level of exposure at the fracture site is considered a compound injury.
Compound fractures require immediate attention and are typically treated through surgery to minimise the risk of infection that could impede the bone’s healing process.
Please find below more detailed information on compound injuries, including what to expect prior to, during, and after surgery, as well as information on the recovery period.
Surgical paperwork will be administered by the nurses, and the anaesthetist will meet with the patient to ask a few questions.
A hospital gown will be provided, and the operation site will be shaved and cleaned.
A Betadine skin prep will be applied to the area above the operation site and wrapped.
All x-rays are to be sent with the patient to the theatre.
Compound injuries necessitate surgical intervention to ensure proper treatment and stability. Surgery is crucial to minimise the risk of infection, which can lead to further complications and prevent the bone from healing. A procedure commonly used for treating compound injuries is Open Reduction and Internal Fixation, which will be described below.
During the procedure, the bone fragments are first reduced (repositioned) to restore their normal alignment. Once aligned, the bones are carefully positioned and secured using a plate affixed to the outer bone through the use of pins and screws. In some cases, a screw or rod may also be inserted into the bone to maintain the alignment of the bone fragments during the healing phase.
Following the procedure, the wound is closed, and a sterile dressing along with a bandage is applied.
By opting for surgical intervention, patients can significantly enhance their prospects of effective healing and a successful recovery from compound injuries.
Following the surgery, the ankle will be immobilised in a splint and elevated to aid in the healing process and reduce swelling.
Pain medications will be administered, and patients will have access to an intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device, allowing them to manage pain relief at their discretion by pushing a button.
The hospital stay is typically expected to last for two to three days. The decision to discharge the patient will depend on pain levels and management.
A physiotherapist will assist patients in mobilising with crutches. Generally, it is advised not to put full weight on the injured foot for six to eight weeks. During this time, patients will need to use crutches. The physiotherapist will provide guidance depending on the severity of the injury, which may include partial weight-bearing with crutches or complete avoidance of weight-bearing on the injured foot. Once the ankle’s movement and weight-bearing restrictions are lifted, the physiotherapist will prescribe appropriate exercises to strengthen it.
Before discharge from the hospital, the wound will be checked, and a follow-up appointment with Professor Munjed Al Muderis will be scheduled for 10 -14 days after the surgery.
If patients are worried about their level of pain, experience significant bleeding, or notice fever or redness around the surgical site, they should contact the office immediately. If assistance is needed after hours, patients can contact the hospital where the surgery was performed, and they will contact Professor Al Muderis on their behalf.
Norwest Private Hospital: (02) 8882 8882
Sydney Adventist Hospital: (02) 9487 9111
Macquarie University Hospital: (02) 9812 3000