When a broken bone does not heal it is referred to as a nonunion. A nonunion often occurs when the bone lacks the adequate stability or bloodflow to heal. Poor nutrition, smoking, diabetes, infection, or advanced age may put patients at risk for the nonunion of a broken bone.
Patients suffering from bones that have not healed properly may suffer from continuous pain or swelling at the fracture site and imaging tests often indicate a gap in the bone that has not closed.
There are several different methods of treatment available to correct a nonunion and initiate proper healing of the bone.
Nonunion Bone Repair Methods
Treatment for a nonunion depends on each patient’s individual condition, as well as the bone that is affected. There are several methods available to treat nonunion of a bone.
Bone stimulation uses a small device that delivers pulsed electromagnetic waves that stimulate healing. This is a non-surgical method of treatment that uses a stimulator that is placed over the skin of the nonunion. This method must be performed daily to be effective.
During a bone graft, bone is taken from another part of the body and is transplanted to the nonunion site. This procedure helps to provide new bone cells and stimulate the natural chemicals the body needs for bone healing.
Internal fixation is a surgical technique that secures the bones in place with the help of screws, plates, wires, rods and pins. These tools are internally attached to the bone to hold the broken parts together and initiate healing.
External fixation is a method that uses an outer metal rod and pins to hold a bone or bones in place until they heal. Surgical pins are inserted through the skin into the bone and held in place by bolts attached to the external metal rod. The external rod or device, commonly called the external fixator, is used to support the bone while it is healing.
A physician will also treat any underlying conditions such as infection or illness, that may have contributed to the cause of nonunion of the bones.