Delayed Unions & Non Unions

What is a Delayed Union?

Under ideal situations, bone takes about 2 months to fully heal.  At times, however, healing can take more than 2 months, sometimes much more.  When bone takes longer to heal than expected, it is termed a ”Delayed Union”. 

There is no precise definition of when a bone becomes a delayed union; it depends on a host of factors that determine one’s expectations in each case.  For example, while most people may heal from a fracture within the 2 month time frame, smokers, diabetics, the elderly, those taking steroids, those with poor nutrition, those with poor circulation and those with other conditions that slow healing may not be expected to heal so quickly.  So to some practitioners, their fractures may not be deemed a Delayed Union until 3, 4, or 5 months. 

What is a Non Union?

While bone usually takes about 2 months to heal, bone can, at times, take as long as 8 or 9 months to heal.  Beyond this time, it is generally considered likely that the bone will never heal.  A fracture so classified may be described as a "Non-Union".   


Diagnosing Delayed Unions and Non-Unions

The cheapest and most common way to diagnose a Delayed Union or Non-Union is with serial X-rays.  (In other words, taking X-rays on a regular basis to monitor how it's healing.)  Other technologies may be considered in some cases, but they are often unnecessary. 


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The Achilles Foot Health Centre
S. A. Schumacher, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., F.A.C.F.A.O.M.  
Dr. S. A. Schumacher, Podiatric Corporation  

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