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Can you die from a broken leg?
JustinPurdy2 posted:
Three days ago on New Years Day I Fractured my tibia and fibula. They Put a splint on me and sent me home within 2 hours. I dont have an appointment to see an Orthapedic Surgeon until friday. Two more days from now. My question is this. Is there ANY way you can die from an untreated leg fracture. There is no broken skin so that would make it a closed fracture ...I think. Im no doctor! Haha. Im just nervous of not getting this taken care of. Ive never had any kind of broken bone or surgery before so I dont know what to expect or what to do.

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_swank_ responded:
I suppose it's possible to get a fat embolism from a fracture that can travel to your lung. But that is not likely to happen unless it's a very serious injury. Serious injuries will land you immediately in surgery. Since they put a splint on your leg already then you really don't have to worry about that. You HAVE been treated. The orthopedic surgeon probably won't do much other than put a fiberglass cast on your leg. Or he may just leave you in the splint. Just stay off it for now. You're not going to die.
An_242485 responded:
This sounds like what happen to my grandson. You can google Ryan Smith Edmond Ok. All we know is the M.E. cause of death was a broken leg.
annette030 responded:
It sounds like they did the normal thing for an ER for a closed fracture of a tib/fib. I assume they did an Xray, and told you to keep it elevated, use ice on and off, etc.

The reason they use a splint at the outset rather than a cast is because they expect some swelling to be a possibility, and that way you/they can loosen the ace bandage holding it on, if necessary. By the time you see the ortho doctor on Friday, he should be able to place a cast on it for you. He will be able to tell by the examination part of your visit.

My great-aunt had a fatty emboli from a closed fracture cause a stroke, but that happened immediately, she was taken to a hospital from the scene of the accident by ambulance.

Most later problems are with open fractures and are caused by infections. But, you were I am unsure what the question really is about...

Take care, Annette
grannyok responded:
My grandson died two months ago due to complications caused by a broken leg. He too was sent home from the emergency room after fracturing his tibia and fibula. His leg was wrapped in a splint and we were told to set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for an appointment two days from that night. The next night we found my grandson dead in his bed.
annette030 replied to An_242485's response:
My condolences for your loss.

I did the Google search and the ME said the cause of death was due to broken right leg "sequelae". That means that it was due to something happening due to the broken right leg, but he did not say what. He ruled the death accidental.

I do not know if he did an open autopsy or not. He may have just relied on medical records, etc. It depends on the rules of his area.

None of this really matters, your grandson has died for no reason. It is a tragedy for everyone concerned.

Take care, Annette
An_242485 replied to annette030's response:
OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Medical Examiner has determined the death of an Edmond football player in October was accidental. They have not released the autopsy yet. All we know is what they released to the Channel 9 news station. I can say his leg was swollen real bad at the break and it was displaced. They told me not to put ice on his leg. The surgeon did not come in to look at the break. They sent the x-ray to his home computer.Thank you for your post.
grannyok replied to _swank_'s response:
You need to check the records, people do die from broken legs which have only had a splint put on them. My grandson did in October of last year. Check it out Ryan Smith Edmond, Oklahoma.
annette030 responded:
Your appt. with the orthopedic doctor was yesterday, how did it go?

Are you well? Do you feel like you were treated properly?

Take care, Annette
wlively responded:
I hope everything has turned out ok. I did not mean to scare you with my post about Ryan. I wanted to make you aware and to ask questions.
JustinPurdy2 replied to annette030's response:
They need to do surgery but, they need to wait for the swelling to go down because its pretty bad. They found more in my Xrays than the hospital did.So now I have a Tib/Fib fracture riding along with 5 fractures in my ankle. Its still in the splint which has me a little nervous. But I did get chest xrays and a CT scan and they said there was no sign of blood clotting. Thanks for checking in tho I appreciate it and will keep you guys updated!
An_242485 replied to annette030's response:
We have Ryan's autopsy. They said Fat Embolism and they noted that when they took the splint off the leg was swollen so bad it had blisters.
when he left the emergency room the release said :
right tibial shaft fracture; comminuted fracture right tibia present.
Fracture shaft right fibula. Displacement of fracture is present.

nothing about swelling or chips.

they said to call thursday for a follow up with Ortho.
when we called the Ortho. they told us he was not taking new patients and gave us another Ortho which made the appointment on the 13th he died on the 12th. I new nothing about fat embolism and they said nothing. I am not a doctor but with just a little research after the fact I would have fought to keep him in the hospital for observation until he was seen by a Ortho. We called the hospital about his pain they told us
to give him more pain medication. If I knew then what I know now he would have been the hospital where the could have tried to help him and not die at home with no help. I let ryan down we are suppose to do everything we can for our kids not the least.
thank you
_swank_ replied to An_242485's response:
I'm very sorry for your loss but I do think that you need to stop blaming yourself. While fat embolisms are not uncommon it is very rare to die from them. What happened is tragic but you did everything possible. Even if Ryan had seen an ortho it may not have prevented the embolism. From what I understand the best way to prevent them is to immobilize the fracture early. It sounds like that was done. If his leg was that swollen the ortho may not have even put it in a cast. When I fractured my ankle the ortho doc kept it in a soft cast for almost two weeks because it was so swollen. That is pretty common with these kind of injuries.
annette030 replied to JustinPurdy2's response:
It is common to find more as you go along. Some wrist fractures will not show at all in initial xrays, but do show after a week or so. Apparantly the same is true of ankle fractures, at least in your case.

The splint can be scary for the patient, but it really is the best thing in my experience. Usually, the doctor tells you to stay off of it completely, having just a splint on it rather than a full cast keeps the patient honest.

Will you have external fixators after surgery or will all the hardware be inside? Is a cast in your future? Let us know when your surgery is so we can all think positive thoughts for you, or pray, or whatever works for you and each of us.

Take care, Annette
annette030 replied to An_242485's response:
Please do not blame yourself for Ryan's death. A fatty emboli hitting the brain is very much like a stroke, except there are no "clot busters" for fatty emboli. Even if he were in the hospital with everyone watching him, he probably still would have died.

It sounds like the ER release just stated the diagnosis in medicalese. Swelling, etc. is a normal expected part of having a fracture.

He was with his family, that is very important to hold onto. It is probably the most important thing to him. Who would want their last memory to be of a hospital and strangers caring for him, rather than at home with his loved ones???

My Auntie Anna (my great-aunt) stroked due to a fatty emboli from a fracture at age 86, she was never the same person again, she lived in a nursing home speaking only Norwegian (her native tongue) for several years before she died, paralysed on one side. She had lived in a small apartment independently prior to the fracture. She had spoken English for over 70 years before it happened. There were no translators in those days, so essentially she was alone most of the time. My Auntie Inga, her sister, was the only one left in the family who spoke Norwegian, she said Auntie Anna did not make any sense in Norwegian either. I wish we could have been there for Auntie Anna like she deserved when she passed away. She had good nurses and the convalescent hospital.

I think we all wish for what did not happen to us, greener pastures, I guess.

You did not let Ryan down at all, your love shines through everything you have written about him.

Take care, Annette

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