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Open Reduction with Internal Fixation

What is open reduction with internal fixation, and why might I need it?

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 pins, plates or screws. The hardware will then stay after the bone heals.

What are the risks with an open reduction with fixation?

Possible complications include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • 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 an 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 – to make sure you are fit for surgery

You will be explained the anaesthetic process when you arrive in the hospital for surgery.

What will happen during my surgery?

Firstly, the broken bone is reduced into its correct position (or as near as possible if there are multiple fragments). After this, the bone needs to be held in place by a screw, plate, or pin. The procedure can take several hours depending on the fracture. You will be placed under a general anaesthetic so that you do not feel pain.

After the bone is secured, 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 my surgery?

Full recovery will depend on the location of the injury (fractures involving a joint take longer to fully recover) but it will range from a few weeks to up to a year.

Your surgeon will advise on how to mobilise the injury after surgery usually with the aid of a physiotherapist.

To ensure the quickest recovery, you can:

  • Take pain medication.
  • Keep your incision areas clean
  • Elevate the affected limb
  • Follow mobilising instructions closely
  • Undergo regular physiotherapy

Get In Touch

To speak with a specialist about Open Reduction with Internal Fixation, contact our team today.
We are available from Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm.

Information For GPs

If you are a GP and would like to refer a patient, ask a question or enquire about our education events, please visit our dedicated GP page, by clicking here.