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Will an X-ray show a healed fracture?

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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 9052 Questions
Dear Doctor,

By looking at someone's bone x XXXXXXX is it possible to tell if she or he has ever fractured and healed a bone before? In other words, if a part of the bone was fractured and healed will it show differently from bone that has never been fractured?
Posted Sat, 14 Jul 2012 in X-ray, Lab tests and Scans
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 44 minutes later
Thanks for posting your query.
For fractures that are older than 1 year, it is difficult to tell by looking at the X-ray whether the bone had a fracture or not if the bone has healed well without any complications. This depends a lot on the site of fracture, the healing process, age of patient, etc.
In adults, most of the bones that had a fracture do look differently at the point of fracture even after many years of fracture.
I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Will an X-ray show a healed fracture? 19 minutes later
Dear Dr. Tayal,

Thank you very much for your kind, detailed answer.
Actually, I remember talking to you before. You've answered my question very nicely and I was impressed. The question I asked you at that time was,

"if there's a fracture (eg. hairline fracture) at the most bottom part of my calcaneous bone (foot sole) and heals, would the bone grow out bigger than its original size and make my height taller?" AND your answer was "it won't", which I was satisfied with. Then, when I asked another doctor prior to this, he said "after the fracture heals - "There onwards the bone neither shrinks nor grows. If there are signs of hypertrophic union where in even after union the bone continues to grow out, it might result in lengthening (especially the part where you have show on your image). The soft bone that develops at fracture site is called 'callus'. It later converts into hard bone XXXXXXX

Now, what is this hypertrophic union? Does this mean that my height can still increase?

Thank you so much for your patience and knowledge.
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 2 hours later
Thanks for writing again.
Hypertrophic union is a temporary process. Once the soft callus hardens, it remodels and regains the original shape. Increase in height will not be there as you have shown in the photograph attached.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Will an X-ray show a healed fracture? 7 minutes later
Dear Dr. XXXXXXX Tayal,

Thank you so much again for your answer. I think you are better than most other doctors I've talked to. I just have one last question. Thank you so much.

SO DOES THAT MEAN IF THERE'S FRACTURE AND AFTER IT HEALS - It can SHRINK BUT NEVER INCREASE right? IMPOSSIBLE TO INCREASE right? Which means if there's fracture in that area several times it might go down 0.1mm but 0.0mm increase right? Just want to confirm.
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 20 minutes later
Yes you are right.
Repeated fractures will decrease the height due to repeated fibrosis instead of increasing it.
All the best.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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