What is Open Reduction with Fixation, and why might you need it?
An open reduction and internal fixation is a type of surgical procedure used to fix broken bones. It is mainly used on serious fractures that are not treatable with a cast/splint. Often these are injuries that involve the joint or where the fracture is unstable. Open reduction means making an incision to align the bone properly, and internal fixation means holding the bones together with hardware such as rods or screws. The hardware will then stay after the bone heals.
What are the risks of having Open Reduction with Fixation?
Possible complications include:
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots
- Healing of the fractured bone in an abnormal alignment
- Irritation of the overlying tissue from the hardware
- Anaesthesia complications
How to prepare for Open Reduction with Fixation
Before your surgery, you may have:
- Physical exam—to check your blood circulation and nerves affected by the broken bone
- X-ray, CT scan , or MRI scan —to evaluate the broken bone and surrounding structures
- Blood tests
Your doctor will talk you through the anaesthesia process when you arrive, and leading up to the surgery you may be asked to stop taking specific medications up to a week before.
What will happen during my surgery?
Firstly, there is a broken bone is reduced (e.g. by shaving it down), or re-structured back into proper place. After this the bone needs to be held in place by a screw, plate, rod or pin. The procedure can take several hours depending on the fracture. You will be placed under anaesthetic so that you won’t feel any pain.
After the bone is in proper position, the surgeon will close the incisions with stitches and use a bandage for the wound. Depending on the location of the fracture, the limb may be put into a cast.
What happens after Open Reduction with Fixation?
Full recovery can take up to 12 months, with improvement signs shown after 3 months.
Recovery will depend on your specific situation. Factors such as severity and physical location of the fracture will influence how long it will take you to recover. Initially you will have to rest for your bones to recover, but once a certain level of mobility is achieved again your doctor will likely prescribe physio therapy.
To ensure the quickest recovery, you can:
- Take pain medication.
- Keep your incision areas clean
- Apply ice and sleep with your leg lifted
- Stay immobile for a prolonged period
- Undergo regular physio therapy