Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is a Galeazzi fracture?
This severe fracture affects your radius bone, which is the lower bone of your arm on your thumb side. It may also show a dislocated distal radial ulnar joint (DRUJ). This is where your two lower arm bones come together at your wrist. The Galeazzi fracture should be called the Copper fracture, because he was the physician that first described it in the nineteenth century. Dr. Ricardo Galeazzi, an Italian surgeon in Milan, got the credit when he discussed the presence of this type of fracture in the 1930’s. It is a fracture that is not commonly seen. Of all the arm fractures this type only account for three to seven percent of them. A Galeazzi fracture appears to happen more in men than in women.
What are the Symptoms of Galeazzi Fracture?
The pain will see to get worse with movement of your wrist or elbow. Other symptoms can include:
- Swelling of your hand, wrist, and forearm
- Tenderness in your forearm
- Numbness in your hand
- Deformity in your forearm
How severe the symptoms are will depend on the degree of displacement and severity of the fracture.
X-rays will be taken to help determine the configuration and level of the fracture. The radiologist will usually take x-rays of your wrist and elbow to rule out any other fractures or dislocations.
Galeazzi Fracture Treatment
A Galeazzi fracture may be an open fracture but it all depends on the circumstances. If it is an open fracture, which is when the broken bone penetrates your skin and the bone is exposed, it needs to be treated immediately. There are several ways the surgeon can treat a Galeazzi fracture can be treated.
- Adults – whether it is closed or open fracture it is necessary to always have surgery in order to fix the DRUJ correctly along with stabilizing your radius bone. There may be circumstances in which there are breaks in your ulna, which is a bone in your forearm alongside your radius bone on the pinky-finger side of the arm or any other bones in your forearm. If this is the case they will also be stabilized when surgery is done.
- Children – when a child has a closed Galeazzi fracture stability is likely to happen without any type of surgery. Their bones heal much faster and more predictably. If the fracture is severe the surgeon may recommend surgery to fix it.
When you have surgery for a Galeazzi fracture, the surgeon may put pins in to make sure there is stability. They are left in the fracture for approximately four weeks and then removed. When the pins are removed, it does not mean that you will avoid having a splint or cast put on because you will usually have a restrictive splint for approximately four additional weeks.
It normally takes approximately two months to recover from the Galeazzi fracture. You may even need to undergo physical therapy it has been splinted in order to regain any motion in your joint. There are times that it can take longer for these types of fractures to heal and at times they do not heal well at all. It all depends on the success of surgery, the extent of the injury, and the age of the person.
Approximately forty percent of Galeazzi fracture repairs will have some degree of complications. The highest incidence of complications occur in adults repairing it surgically is not done or attempted. If the surgery is not done an adult may have permanent damage to their DRUJ along with restricted movement in the future.