Open Reduction Internal Fixation: All You Should Know

Open reduction internal fixation is a surgical technique that can treat complex bone fractures. A surgeon will use the technique to restore the broken bones to their natural positions, which decreases the risk of further damage or complications. This surgical procedure allows for significantly more accurate alignment of fracture fragments than alternative methods such as closed reduction. Historically, open reduction internal fixation has been primarily used in treating fractures of the long bones such as the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and humerus (upper arm). To learn more about this treatment, you may want to consult with a Chula Vista Open Reduction Internal Fixation specialist.

Why Do You Need It?

Individuals with a bone fracture that is not treated may have a significantly increased risk of developing arthritis in the injured area as they age. In addition, untreated fractures can significantly affect other structures in the body, such as organs and muscles, which may result from displacement of bones or interference with nerves that pass through the limb. For example, an untreated femur fracture can cause significant problems with blood flow to the leg due to displacement or interference with nerves in the thigh.

Open reduction internal fixation is generally recommended for fractures that are displaced, severely broken, or where closed treatment has failed. The procedure is often encouraged for specific types of injuries such as:

  • Fractures of bones that are close to joints can jeopardize the limb’s function.
  • Fractures where significant soft tissue damage may have occurred.
  • Severe compound fractures tend to bleed extensively due to broken bones puncturing arteries or other blood vessels.
  • The bone injury involves growth plates in children, allowing for more accurate alignment without disrupting the growth process.

What to Expect During Treatment

Before beginning any procedure, the surgeon will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the best method for treating your specific injury. You may be given general or local anesthesia during the surgery, performed using x-ray monitoring. The surgeon may use pins, plates, and screws to hold the bones in place while they heal. Generally, the bone will heal in 6-12 weeks, but you should refrain from any strenuous activities during this time.

Recovery Time

The healing process for this type of surgery varies by individual, but most patients can return to their daily activities within several months. However, it may take up to a year or more for the bone to fully heal. Suppose you have had open reduction internal fixation surgery. In that case, you should avoid doing any strenuous physical activity that involves putting weight on the affected limb for at least six to eight weeks. In addition, it is best to avoid contact sports and heavy lifting and other activities that may cause fracture displacement or interfere with proper bone healing.

In summary, open reduction internal fixation surgery is a highly effective treatment for complex bone fractures. This surgical procedure allows a doctor to restore the natural position of fractured bones without disrupting growth in children, and it can help prevent arthritis from developing as you age. To determine whether this surgery is right for you, consult with an Open Reduction Internal Fixation surgeon about your symptoms.


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