Editorials

Breaks without bruises

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7166.1095 (Published 24 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1095

Are common and can't be said to rule out non-accidental injury

  1. Deborah Eastwood, Consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
  1. Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QR

    Papers p (p 1117)

    Everyone knows what constitutes a bruise, and most people understand what a fracture is. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines a bruise as “a breaking, a breach, an injury to the body causing discolouration but not laceration,” and Stedman's Medical Dictionary simply describes a fracture as “a break.” As both bruises and fractures are concerned with breaks, it would be logical to assume that they invariably occur together. Colloquially, orthopaedic surgeons describe a fracture as “a soft tissue injury complicated by a break in the bone.” However, the reason this definition arose was because, all too often, the intimate link between the bone and its soft tissue surrounds was forgotten as the soft tissue injury, while undoubtedly present, was not visible to the naked eye. Bruising is thus …

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