Treating Severely Broken Bones
Broken bones can happen at any time and at any age. Young kids playing sports, adults in car accidents, slips, and falls can cause fractures. Fractures range from hairline cracks to severe, painful damage. A cast or splint is not enough for bones broken into multiple pieces, moved out of position, or sticking out of the skin. Instead, these injuries need urgent surgery, known as open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF).
The benefits of open reduction surgery
An orthopedic surgeon is tasked with repairing severely damaged or displaced bones. These are often in the arm, leg, ankle, or wrist but can happen in other places. The goal of open reduction is to reduce pain and realign the bones. More importantly, open reduction ensures the bones heal correctly, avoiding deformities and a poor future. The procedure also works on dislocations or a failed close reduction surgery. Open reduction is part of a 2-step process involving internal fixation.
Here’s what happens during surgery
ORIF surgery starts with open reduction. First, the orthopedic surgeon makes an incision and exposes the damaged bone. Next, the surgeon sets the broken or dislocated bone back in the natural alignment. This technique contrasts closed reduction, where the bone is put back into place without incisions.
Time for your internal fixation
Open reduction helps reset the broken bone, but more work is necessary to keep the bone in place. This procedure is where the internal fixation comes in. The surgeon will use stainless steel or titanium materials to connect the broken bones. Screws are the most common type of hardware, but surgeons also use plates, rods, or nails. Once the metal components are in place, the surgeon closes the incisions. After the bones heal, the material will stay in place. On rare occasions, the surgeons will remove the screws or plates.
What happens after surgery?
The recovery after an ORIF procedure usually takes about 3-12 months. The length of recovery depends on the degree of injury, general health, and location. As the bones start to heal, the healthcare provider may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help regain strength and movement. With major surgery, there is a possibility of risks and complications. These include bleeding, blood clots, bacterial infection, and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Other concerns include incomplete or abnormal healing, problems with the metal hardware, muscle, or nerve damage. The surgeon will outline all possible risks.
Trust in open reduction
The bones need to be appropriately realigned for severe, multiple, and dislocations. An open reduction helps to set the bones back in place. Along with internal fixation, open reduction can help with reducing pain and restoring motion. Follow the surgeon’s recommendations to get the best out of the procedure.