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1. a rigid or flexible appliance for fixation of displaced or movable parts; see also orthosis.
2. to supply support for the purpose of immobilizing an injured or displaced body part.

Uses. Splints are most commonly used to immobilize broken bones or dislocated joints. When a broken bone has been properly set, a splint permits complete rest at the site of the fracture and thus allows natural healing to take place with the bone in the proper position. Splints are also necessary to immobilize unset fractures when a patient is moved after an accident; they prevent motion of the fractured bone, which might cause greater damage.

In a pelvic or spinal fracture, the effect of splinting is achieved by placing the patient on a stretcher or board. Breaks of the ribs and of face and skull bones usually do not require the use of splints, since these parts are naturally splinted by adjacent bone and tissue.
Making and Applying Splints. A splint can be improvised from a variety of materials, but should usually be light, straight, and rigid. It should be long enough to extend beyond the joint above the injury and below the fracture site. A board used as a splint should be at least as wide as the injured part. Tightly rolled newspapers or magazines can be used to splint the arm or lower leg. Ice cream sticks have been used as splints for broken fingers.

Splints should be padded, at least on one side. Thick soft padding permits the injured part to swell and reduces interference with circulation. Bandages or strips of cloth or adhesive tape are used to hold splints in place. Pulses distal to the injury should be checked before and after splinting to determine whether the blood supply has been impaired. If the limb becomes cold, pale, or blue, or if the affected part becomes too painful, the splint should be loosened. Splints should never be tight.
Internal Splints. Internal splints, as well as pins, wires, and other devices for the fixation of fractures, are among the more spectacular advances in orthopedics. They have worked wonders in the setting of hip fractures, especially in older people. Internal splints are available for almost every type of fracture. Stainless steel, titanium, and Vitallium are the most commonly used materials. Splints and devices of this type require surgery for insertion, but are less cumbersome than external splints and permit earlier use of the fractured bone.
Types of splints. From Lammon et al., 1996.
airplane splint one that holds the splinted limb suspended in the air.
anchor splint one for fracture of the jaw, with metal loops fitting over the teeth and held together by a rod.
Balkan splint Balkan frame.
coaptation s's small splints adjusted about a fractured limb to produce coaptation of fragments.
Denis Browne splint a splint for the correction of clubfoot, consisting of two metal footplates connected by a crossbar.
dynamic splint a supportive or protective apparatus that aids in initiation and performance of motion by the supported or adjacent parts.
flexion splint tenodesis splint.
functional splint dynamic splint.
shin s's strain of the long flexor muscle of the toes, occurring in athletes and marked by pain along the tibia.
Taylor splint a horizontal pelvic band and long lateral posterior bars; used to apply traction to the lower limb.
tenodesis splint an orthosis that allows pinch and grasp movements through the wrist extensors.
Thomas splint two iron rods joined at the upper end by an oval iron ring or half-ring, and bent at the lower end to form a W shape; used to give support to the lower limb and remove the weight of the body from the knee joint by transferring it to the pelvis.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. An appliance for preventing movement of a joint or for the fixation of displaced or movable parts.
2. The splint bone, or fibula.
3. splint bone; in veterinary anatomy, refers to the vestigial second and fourth metacarpal and metatarsal bones of horses that are closely apposed to the third metacarpal or metatarsal by a periosteum anchor.
4. In equine medicine, the term applied to the hard swelling (soft tissue inflammation and exostosis) produced by trauma or stress affecting the periosteal junction of the splint bone at the junction with the second metacarpal/metatarsal, causing localized inflammation, swelling, heat and pain; usually affects forelimb and almost always affects junction of the second and third metacarpal. Classified as high splint when proximad and low splint when present on the distal aspect of the splint bone.
[M. Dutch splinte]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


a. A rigid device used to prevent motion of a joint or of the ends of a fractured bone.
b. A dental appliance put on the teeth to protect them from grinding or from moving out of place.
2. A bony enlargement of the cannon bone or splint bone of a horse.
tr.v. splinted, splinting, splints
To support or restrict with or as if with a splint.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


1. An appliance used to prevent movement of a joint or to fixate displaced or movable parts.
2. The splint bone, or fibula.
[M. Dutch splinte]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Enlarge picture
SPLINT: Patient with ankle fracture
An appliance made of bone, wood, metal, plastics, composites, or plaster of Paris used for the fixation, union, or protection of an injured part of the body. It may be movable or immovable. See: illustration

Agnew splint

A splint used in fractures of the patella and metacarpus.

air splint

A lightweight splint used for immobilizing fractured or injured extremities. It is usually an inflatable cylinder, open at both ends, that becomes rigid when inflated, thus preventing the part confined in the cylinder from moving. Synonym: blow-up splint; inflatable splint


Because of the tendency for the air cast to straighten out the limb as it is inflated, this device should not be used to immobilize joint dislocations or fractures with gross displacement.

airplane splint

An appliance usually used on ambulatory patients in the treatment of fractures of the humerus. It takes its name from the elevated position in which it holds the arm suspended away from the body.

anchor splint

A splint for fracture of the jaw, with metal loops fitting over the teeth and held together by a rod.

Ashurst splint

A bracketed splint of wire with a footpiece to cover the thigh and leg after excision of the knee joint.

Balkan splint

A splint used for continuous extension in a fracture of the femur.

banjo traction splint

A splint made out of a steel rod bent to resemble the shape of a banjo. It provides anchor points for attachments to the fingers in the treatment of contractures and fractures of the fingers.

Bavarian splint

An obsolete dressing in which plaster was applied between two layers of flannel.

Bennett double-ring splint

See: Bennett double-ring splint

blow-up splint

Air splint.

Bond splint

A splint used for fracture of the lower end of the radius.

Bowlby splint

See: Bowlby splint

box splint

A splint used for fracture below the knee.

bracketed splint

A splint made up of two pieces of metal or wood united by brackets.

Cabot splint

A splint composed of a metal structure placed posterior to the thigh and leg.

Carter intranasal splint

A steel bridge with wings connected by a hinge, used for operation of a depressed nasal bridge.

coaptation splint

A small splint adjusted about a fractured part to prevent overriding of the fragments of bones. It is usually covered by a longer splint for fixation of entire section.

cock-up splint

A static splint to maintain the wrist in either extension or flexion.

cylinder splint

A splint constructed around an injured bone to reduce the potential for flexion contractures.

Denis Browne splint

A splint to treat talipes equinovarus (clubfoot), consisting of a curved bar attached to the soles of a pair of high-topped shoes. It is often used in late infancy and applied at bedtime. Its use generally follows casting and manipulation to reduce the deformity.

dorsal blocking splint

A splint constructed on the back of the hand to inhibit full extension of one or more of the finger joints and/or the wrist.

Dupuytren splint

See: Dupuytren, Baron Guillaume

dynamic splint

A splint that assists in movements initiated by the patient. Synonym: functional splint

finger splint

A padded strip of malleable metal or plastic used to immobilize a fractured finger. As an alternative, the injured finger is often “buddy taped” to an adjoining finger for support.

flail arm splint

Abbreviation: FAS
An upper-extremity orthotic device to provide support and limited function, consisting of a shoulder-operated harness, a volar supporting structure made of low-temperature thermoplastic material, and a terminal device that allows the arm to grasp or stabilize objects.

Fox splint

A splint formerly used for a fractured clavicle.

functional splint

Dynamic splint.

Gibson walking splint

A splint that is a modification of a Thomas splint.

Gordon splint

A side splint used for the arm and hand in a Colles fracture.

inflatable splint

Air splint.

interdental splint

A rigid or flexible device or compound used to support, protect, or immobilize teeth that have been loosened, replanted, fractured, or subjected to surgical procedures.

Jones nasal splint

A splint used for the fracture of nasal bones.

Levis splint

A splint of perforated metal extending from below the elbow to the end of the palm, shaped to fit the arm and hand.

mandibular advancement splint

A device to maintain an open airway in patients who suffer partial upper airway collapse during sleep. The splint is placed in the mouth at bedtime.

McIntire splint

A splint shaped like a double inclined plane, used as a posterior splint for the leg and thigh.

occlusal splint

A splint fashioned to cover the incisal and occlusal surfaces of a dental arch to stabilize the teeth, treat bruxism, or facilitate proper occlusal positioning.

opponens splint

A splint designed to maintain the thumb in a position to oppose the other fingers.

padded board splint

A splint of wood, typically padded on one side and covered with plastic or cloth, to which an injured extremity can be fastened to immobilize it.

permanent fixed splint

A nonremovable splint firmly attached to an abutment used to stabilize or immobilize teeth. A fixed bridge may serve as a permanent fixed splint for such support.

resting hand splint

Resting pan splint.

resting pan splint

A splint designed to position the fingers and stabilize the hand in a functional position with the fingers held in opposition.
Synonym: resting hand splint

static splint

Any orthosis that lacks movable parts and is used for positioning, stability, protection, or support.

Stromeyer splint

See: Stromeyer splint

sugar tong splint

A splint commonly used instead of a cast to immobilize a Colles fracture after it has been reduced. The splint permits the affected arm to swell without being compressed within the confines of the cast yet maintain its alignment. Follow-up diagnostic images of the fracture are typically obtained 5 to 7 days after placement of the splint to ensure that adequate reduction of the fracture is maintained.

temporary removable splint

Any of a variety of splints used for temporary or intermittent support and stabilization of the teeth.

tenodesis splint

A splint fabricated to allow pinch and grasp movements through use of wrist extensors.
Synonym: wrist-driven flexor hinge hand splint

Thomas splint

See: Thomas splint

traction splint

A splint that provides continual traction to a midshaft lower extremity fracture.
Enlarge picture

vacuum splint

A negative-pressure splint to immobilize the extremities or torso after an injury. It may be used to safely transport the injured person. The splint consists of a nylon appliance filled with Styrofoam-like beads. The appliance is fitted around the injured body part and air is removed using a vacuum pump. As air is removed, the appliance conforms to the body part without straightening the limb.


Distal neurovascular function must be monitored after splint application. If decreased circulation or neurological involvement is noted, the splint must be loosened immediately.

Volkmann splint

See: Volkmann, Richard von

wrist-driven flexor hinge hand splint

Tenodesis splint.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners


A usually temporary support or reinforcement for an injured part, often used to minimize movement at the site of injury, especially in the case of a fracture of a bone.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


A thin piece of rigid material that is sometimes used during nasal surgery to hold certain structures in place until healing is underway.
Mentioned in: Septoplasty
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. An appliance for preventing movement of a joint or fixation of displaced or movable parts.
2. The splint bone, or fibula.
[M. Dutch splinte]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012