Orthopaedic traumatology: fundamental principles and current controversies for the acute care surgeon

Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2018 Jan 8;3(1):e000117. doi: 10.1136/tsaco-2017-000117. eCollection 2018.


Multiply injured patients with fractures are co-managed by acute care surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons. In most centers, orthopaedic surgeons definitively manage fractures, but preliminary management, including washouts, splinting, reductions, and external fixations, may be performed by selected acute care surgeons. The acute care surgeon should have a working knowledge of orthopaedic terminology to communicate with colleagues effectively. They should have an understanding of the composition of bone, periosteum, and cartilage, and their reaction when there is an injury. Fractures are usually fixed urgently, but some multiply injured patients are better served with a damage control strategy. Extremity compartment syndrome should be suspected in all critically injured patients with or without fractures and a low threshold for compartment pressure measurements or empiric fasciotomy maintained. Acute care surgeons performing rib fracture fixation and other chest wall injury reconstructions should follow the principles of open fracture reduction and stabilization.

Keywords: acute care surgery; bone graft; compartment syndrome; fracture healing.

Publication types

  • Review