What is the difference between an open fracture and a closed fracture? Is one worse than the other?

Fractures are classified as either open or closed, depending on if there is an open wound (cut or tear) in the skin over the site of the fracture.

If you have an open fracture, the bone is broken and there is a wound, from where the broken part of the bone may protrude (come out) through the skin. With a closed fracture, there is no such wound. The bone still may be visibly broken, but it cannot be seen.

Reference: 

John M. Flynn, MD, et al. Eleven Years Experience in the Operative Management of Pediatric Forearm Fractures. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. June 2010. Vol. 30. No. 4. Pp. 313-319.

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