Shinbone (Tibia) Fractures Diagnosis | Boston Medical Center
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Shinbone (Tibia) Fractures Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How is a shinbone fracture diagnosed?

It is important that your provder know the specifics of how you hurt your leg. For example, if you were in a car accident, it would help your doctor to know how fast you were going, whether you were the driver or the passenger, whether you were wearing your seatbelt, and if the airbags went off. This information will help your doctor determine how you were hurt and whether you may be hurt somewhere else.

It is also important for your doctor to know if you have any other health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or allergies. Your doctor will also ask you if you use tobacco products or are taking any medications.

After discussing your injury and medical history, your doctor will perform a careful examination. He or she will assess your overall condition and then focus on your leg. Your provider will look for:

  • An obvious deformity of the tibia/leg (an unusual angle, twisting, or shortening of the leg)
  • Breaks in the skin
  • Bruises
  • Swelling
  • Bony pieces that may be pushing on the skin
  • Instability (some patients may retain a degree of stability if the fibula is not broken or if the fracture is incomplete)

After the visual inspection, your provider will feel along your tibia, leg, and foot looking for abnormalities. If you are awake and alert, your doctor will test for sensation and movement in your leg and foot.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests will provide your doctor with more information about your injury.

X-rays. The most common way to evaluate a fracture is with x-rays, which provide clear images of bones. X-rays can show whether the tibia is broken or intact. They can also show the type of fracture and where it is located within the tibia. X-rays are also useful for identifying the involvement of the knee or ankle joints and the presence of a fibula fracture.

Computed tomography (CT) scans. If your doctor still needs more information after reviewing your x-rays, he or she may order a CT scan. A CT scan shows a cross-sectional image of your limb. It can provide your doctor with valuable information about the severity of the fracture. For example, sometimes the fracture lines can be very thin and hard to see on an x-ray. A CT scan can help your doctor see the lines more clearly.