How do you test for a bone fracture?

To diagnose a broken bone, your healthcare provider will examine the injury. You will also likely have one or more imaging tests. These tests can include:

  • X-rays: This tool produces a two-dimensional picture of the break. Healthcare providers often turn to this imaging first.
  • Bone scan: Healthcare providers use a bone scan to find fractures that don’t show up on an X-ray. This scan takes longer — usually two visits four hours apart — but it can help find some fractures.
  • CT scan: A CT scan uses computers and X-rays to create detailed slices or cross-sections of the bone.
  • MRI: A MRI creates very detailed images using strong magnetic fields. MRI is often used to diagnose a stress fracture.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/30/2020.

References

  • American Bone Health. Fracture Risk Factors. Accessed 11/29/20.
  • Amin S, et al. Trends in Fracture Incidence: A Population-Based Study Over 20 Years. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2014 Mar; 29 (3): 581-589. Accessed 11/29/20.
  • MedlinePlus. Fractures. Accessed 11/29/20.
  • NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center. Once Is Enough: A Guide to Preventing Future Fractures. Accessed 11/29/20.
  • NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center. Preventing Falls and Related Fractures. Accessed 11/29/20.
  • OrthoInfo. Fractures (Broken Bones). Accessed 11/29/20.
  • United States Bone and Joint Initiative. The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States (BMUS). Third ed. Rosemont, IL; 2014. Accessed 11/29/20.

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