Non-Union Fractures

When a broken bone fails to heal permanently, it’s referred to as a non-union. This type of orthopedic problem results when there’s unstable repair, an infection, or insufficient blood supply for healing purposes. Sometimes, a non-union fracture may eventually heal on its own, but in most cases, surgical intervention is necessary.

Recovery rates following surgery are variable, but typically, if a nonunion has failed to heal after six months, then it must be repaired to enable new bone tissue to bridge the fracture. Dr. Daniel C. Allison is a skilled Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon with years of experience treating non-union bone fractures. He knows that if improperly healed bones go untreated, complications such as a shortened limb or a gap between the fracture ends may occur. By calling (310) 730-8008 or filling out the online contact form, you can schedule an appointment that can provide you with the answers you need on the path to recovery.

Non-Union Fractures & Complications Effectively Resolved

A non-union fracture is defined by the FDA as “established when a minimum of six months has elapsed since fracture with no visible progressive signs of healing for three months.”


When checking a patient for a possible non-union bone fracture, Dr. Allison examines the fracture site for the following signs:
    • Tenderness
    • Persistent pain
    • Lack of mobility
    • Limited functionality
    • Slight warmth and swelling of the skin

Improper healing could be the result of patient-related, fracture-related or fixation-related factors. Identifying which one of these issues is the source of the non-union is critical to correcting the problem and preventing further complications or recurrence.


Non-unions are categorized as follows:

Hypertrophic – Mechanical failure. Bulging appearance indicates mobility at the fracture site. The solution is to rigidly fix and stabilize the fracture.

Atrophic – Organic failure. Poor healing occurred from a lack of blood supply. A more complicated non-union requiring a two-step correction. Accumulated scar tissue is removed from bone ends and the bone graft is applied to fracture site.

Key to ensuring the most appropriate treatment for a non-union is identifying the source of the problem. Therefore, you require a surgeon like Dr. Allison who is familiar with the complexities of musculoskeletal structures and can expertly identify, diagnose, and treat this type of condition.

Sophisticated Treatment of Non-Union Fractures

A physical examination of the injury is first performed, followed by imaging tests such as an MRI or X-ray. Diagnostic exams are helpful in identifying if scar tissue or cartilage has formed as a result of the non-union bone injury. This cartilage, or “pseudo-joint,” is common to atrophic non-unions and must be cleaned up before the fracture can be corrected.


When treating non-union fractures and depending on a patient’s case, some of the following treatment approaches could be considered:
    • Plates or screws to secure fracture
    • Synthetic, donor bone graft to adhere bone
    • Bone marrow to aid in new bone formation