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Orthopedic Services
Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1509 Wilson Terrace
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 409-8000

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I just came back from the hospital after visiting my Granpa who broke his leg. I don't understand why they don't stitch his skin back up. When the doctor took the bandage off to check it, he said he could see there's a gaping hole. No one explained this to him. I told him I would go on-line and see what I could find out.

It sounds like your Granpa might have a complicated bone break. If the skin is open, then this would be called an open fracture -- as opposed to a closed fracture where the skin is still intact (not damaged in any way). With open fractures like this, there is a risk of infection setting in. The surgeon may not want to stitch the skin closed until all the bacteria is cleared away. This approach requires some time to cleanse and drain the area, test for any bugs (bacteria), and decide what's next. Each day, a sample of the affected tissue is sent down to the lab. The pathologist looks at the culture under a microscope and examines it for bacteria (type of bacteria and count or how many are there). If the sample comes back negative (no bacteria or very low numbers), then the wound can be closed up safely. If the bacterial load remains high, then the wound is probably going to be irrigated (washed) and debrided (cleaned out) again. Another lab sample will be taken and tested. This procedure may be repeated periodically until the lab sends back the all clear signal (a negative result). Then the open area can finally be closed up for good.


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