Salter-Harris Growth Plate Fracture Classification

The Salter-Harris fracture classification has to be just about the most sensible classification systems in medicine, as least as far as the mnemonic goes.┬áIt is a system used to grade growth plate fractures and conveniently uses Salter’s name as the way to remember.

  1. SEPARATED (the bone and the growth plate have come apart) – but it actually looks normal on x-ray (you can only tell on physical exam)
  2. Fracture ABOVE the growth plate
  3. Fracture LOWER (below) the growth plate – fracture extends to the articular surface
  4. Fracture THROUGH the growth plate
  5. Fracture ERASING/compressing/squashing the growth plate – this is the worst kind because with disruption of the growth plate comes disruption of growth. Some odd things can cause these ones like frostbite, electric shock and irradiation. They’re hard to see on x-rays but show up on MRIs.
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