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What is Fracture Surgery?

Fracture surgery is a procedure to fix broken (fractured) bones and to hold them in place using advanced equipment. Though fractures can heal without surgery, in certain situations surgery is necessary for proper alignment and healing.

Indications for Fracture Surgery

Indications for fracture surgery include:

  • Unstable and displaced fractured bones
  • Unsuccessful attempt to align the broken bones without surgery
  • Fracture of the top of the thighbone (femoral neck) which does not heal well without surgery
  • Joint fractures
  • Fractures where the bone has penetrated through the skin (open fracture)

Preparation for Fracture Surgery

You should not eat or drink 6 hours before the surgery. You may receive antibiotics prior to surgery. Your doctor will take certain precautions to prevent clot formation in the leg veins.

Procedure for Fracture Surgery

The procedure may be performed under general or regional anaesthesia. Open surgery or external fixation may be performed.

Open surgery (open reduction and internal fixation):

  • Your doctor will make an incision over the injured bone.
  • The fracture fragments are aligned (reduced).
  • Screws, pins, rods, or wires made of stainless steel or titanium will be inserted to stabilize the fracture.
  • The incisions are closed with stitches.
  • A cast or brace may then be applied for support.

External fixation:

  • External fixation is carried out in cases of an open fracture or multiple bone fractures.
  • This is a procedure in which fracture stabilization is performed with instruments outside the body.
  • Your doctor will insert metal pins through the skin into the bone above and below the fracture site. The pins are attached to an adjustable frame or device that helps hold the bones in proper alignment while they heal.

Post-Operative Care and Recovery Following Fracture Surgery

After surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery room. Depending on the severity and location of the fracture you may have to stay overnight or for a few days in the hospital. You will experience some pain and swelling for which you will receive medication. Fractures can take several weeks to months to heal completely. You should limit your activities even after the removal of the cast or brace so the bone becomes solid enough to bear stress. The stabilizing instruments such as plates and screws may or may not be removed after the fracture has healed. Physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the muscles around the fracture site.

Risks and Complications of Fracture Surgery

Risks and complications of fracture surgery include:

  • Wound infection
  • Failure of healing
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Arthritis can develop in a fractured joint

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