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Bone Fracture Repair

Overview & Description

A broken bone is called a fracture. There are many types of treatments to repair, or reduce, a fracture. The treatment depends upon the type and severity of the fracture, and the bones involved. The goal is to eliminate any deformity of the bone and to maximize its function. There are two types of repair, open and closed.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Anyone who has a broken bone may be a candidate for fracture repair. If the bone has just a minor crack, no repair may be needed. A cast or splint may be placed over the skin covering the broken bone. The body is then allowed to repair the fracture on its own. If the bone is cracked completely but the pieces are not quite in the right place, a closed repair is usually done.

An open repair is done for more serious fractures, which include the following:

  • broken bones that are visible or that stick out through the skin
  • fractures in which the two ends of the broken bone can't be lined up correctly
  • fractures that extend into a joint
  • Open repair may also be used on old fractures that are not healing properly.

    How is the procedure performed?

    In a closed repair, the healthcare provider pulls on the injured bone. This helps get the bone pieces back into their proper position. A splint or cast is then applied to prevent movement of the injured bone.

    An open repair, or reduction, is a surgery done in the operating room. First, medicine is given to relax the person. General anesthesia may be used to put the person to sleep. The skin over the broken bone is then cleaned and shaved. The skin is cut open and the bone is exposed. The bone surgeon, or orthopedist, uses a variety of tools to repair the fracture and hold it in place. These tools may include surgical nails, screws, wires, rods, and metal plates. After the bone pieces are back in the proper place, the cut in the skin is closed with staples or stitches. Next a cast is applied.


    Preparation & Expectations

    What happens right after the procedure?

    The person is taken to the surgery recovery room until the medicine given to relax him or her wears off. The person may be able to go home a few hours later. If the fracture is severe, or if there are other serious injuries, the person may remain in the hospital.


    Home Care and Complications

    What happens later at home?

    After the procedure, a cast may be worn to prevent movement of the bone while it heals. Physical therapy may be helpful to maintain or restore normal function.

    What are the potential complications after the procedure?

    A closed repair may have complications such as delayed healing of the bone or loss of function. Open repair carries the risk of infection, bleeding, or allergic reaction to anesthesia. Osteomyelitis, or infection of the bone, can be quite serious.



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