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Nonunion

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For some patients who have suffered fractures, the bones do not heal correctly, even long after treatment. These patients may have a condition called nonunion, or a fracture’s permanent inability to heal. This can cause serious health problems and requires medical attention, including surgery in many cases. If you’ve experienced a fracture that doesn’t seem to be healing like it should, make an appointment with the experts at Florida Hospital today. Using our state-of-the-art facilities, these specialists can diagnose your condition and help determine why your bones aren’t healing normally, then develop an appropriate course of treatment. 

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Nonunion fracture refers to the permanent failure of healing following a broken bone, even after treatment, which can become a serious health threat requiring medical attention, perhaps including orthopedic surgery. Individuals with nonunion fractures in their legs, ankles or feet may need crutches, wheelchairs or other assistive devices to retain mobility.

In some cases, nonunion fractures eventually heal on their own—this is called delayed union—and every person’s bones heal differently. In general, though, if the fracture hasn’t healed within six months, a nonunion has developed.

There are two major types of nonunion fractures: hypertropic non-union and atrophic non-union. A hypertropic non-union refers to the nonunions that result from a mechanical issue at the fracture site; this can lead to what is often called “elephant foot,” or a bulge at the fracture site that is caused by a large amount of callus formation. Surgery for this condition seeks to stabilize the fracture by compressing the two fragments. An atrophic non-union, meanwhile, is caused by poor healing due to a lack of blood supply. Treatments for atrophic non-union fractures are more complex; the fracture must be held in place while the tissue around the bone ends is removed and the avascular bone ends are hollowed out. After that, a bone graft is packed around the fracture area. 

While nonunions can occur in any bone, they are most commonly found in the tibia, humerus, talus and fifth metatarsal bone. 

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