Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Oxford Trauma and Emergency Care

What is a complex fracture?

Illustrations of complex fractures

It is a severe break to a bone or several bones that requires special treatment. For example:

  • an open fracture 
  • a fracture into multiple pieces
  • multiple fractures at the same time
  • fracture of the pelvis or acetabulum/ hip socket (see pictures)

While they are not as common as more simple fractures, they usually need extra care to recover from. Most of the time patients need to stay in a hospital ward for several days after sustaining a complex fracture.

They could be the result of a major accident such as a car crash, but can also occur from falls, especially in the elderly or those with weaker bones.