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Nonunions Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How are nonunions diagnosed?

Imaging tests that provide detailed pictures of the bone and surrounding soft tissues are used to examine nonunions. Depending on which bone is involved, these tests may include x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Imaging studies let the doctor see the broken bone and follow the progress of its healing. A nonunion may be diagnosed if the doctor finds one or more of the following:

  • Persistent pain at the fracture site
  • A persistent gap with no bone spanning the fracture site
  • No progress in bone healing when repeated imaging studies are compared over several months
  • Inadequate healing in a time period that is usually enough for normal healing

If the doctor diagnoses a nonunion, he or she may order blood tests to investigate the cause. These tests may show infection or another medical condition that may slow bone healing, such as anemia or diabetes.