I have done research on the various different types of bone fractures however I am not able to find any resources discussing specifically the severity of fractures. For example I had assumed that the size/length of a fracture would be relevant to its severity however as pointed out by @anongoodnurse this is not always so straight forward. The other factors I am guessing relate to the severity are whether the fracture is open (more severe?) or closed (less severe?), and a displaced (more severe?) or a stress (less severe?) fracture?

As a simple theoretical example, if there is a person with a greenstick fracture in the same metacarpal bone on their right and left hands, but one fracture is more severe than the other, what terminology would be used to describe/communicate this difference in severity? Would it be the size/length difference, the fact that it is open/closed, displaced/not, etc. What terminology would be used to make it clear that yes this person has the same type of fracture on each hand, but the left is more severe because of x, y and z factors.

I hope this is clearer, please comment where further detail is needed and I'll be happy to add it.

  • "Imagining" such as you have done has no real value in medicine. In research, absolutely. Fractures that are "short" are transverse; "longer" ones are oblique. Some very "short" fractures need surgical intervention! Only displacement is measured in mm or cm. Feb 19, 2021 at 6:02
  • Yes I had guessed that the size of a fracture would relate to its severity but as you have pointed out this is not always the case so thank you for that. Transverse and oblique is not what I am looking for since these relate to the long/oblique axis of the bone (or otherwise for transverse), where as I am looking for size/length in relation to severity specifically. I will update the question
    – FrontEnd
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:35

1 Answer 1


So, as far as I am aware there is no specific grading of severity of fracture. Severity in fractures can be individual and based on age, debility, etc. Most classification systems I am aware of are based on describing the fracture. Open/closed, oblique, longitudinal, etc. There are also specific common fractures with names, such as a tri-malleolar fracture Colles fracture. There are some classification systems based on describing the fracture. You might look up Salter-Harris or Gustillo-Anderson, to name a few.

Edit: I almost forgot to add- there are classification systems for internal organ injuries that are based on severity. The American academy of trauma surgeons has a good resource on this.

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