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Fracture Fixation Explained

06 December 2021

Fracture fixation is orthopedic surgery for repairing a broken bone using methods that allow fast healing and realignment of the injury.

When a bone is broken and cannot be reset with a cast or is out of alignment where surgery may be required, fracture fixation allows the injury to be stabilised after being moved back into place and promotes healing.

Minimally invasive orthopedic surgery is performed on broken bones when that is the best method to obtain the best result for the fracture.

What is involved with a fracture fixation?

While under a general anaesthetic, a surgeon will make incisions to access the fracture to repair it internally with wires, nails, rods, plates or screws, depending on the location and type of the break. These requirements will be discussed before you have the orthopedic surgery and the extent of the break and subsequent treatment is determined in advance. Sometimes there are external sections of the fixation which remain outside the body for the duration of the healing process. After determining through X-Ray the fracture has healed, the patient may have another procedure to remove the fixation while in other cases implants may remain attached forever.

The implants may include metal screws and plates, long rods that are inserted into the centre of the bone and wires. They are made from titanium or stainless steel and help assist with the healing and while they might sound scary, they aren’t like something you’d find in a hardware shop. Technological advancements in orthopedic surgery has allowed for state-of-the-art implants to be used in various forms that your doctor can discuss with you before you have your operation.

What to expect after orthopedic surgery

You may be in a cast or a sling, depending on the type of procedure you’ve had. You may also require some therapy which is aimed at strengthening muscles and joints and restoring mobility. You may need help to get dressed or out of bed and require assistance when standing or walking but this can be discussed with your medical professional who will give you a regime to follow. You should also keep an eye out for issues that may arise during your recovery like new swelling, pain, wound care and bruising.

At home recovery after surgery

Depending on your procedure you may be on crutches or in a wheelchair or require a walker during your recovery. You should follow the instructions of medical professionals to avoid heavy lifting on the affected bones, proper treatment of casts when showering or washing up, treatment of skin irritation associated with casts or slings and, perhaps the most common complaint, how to scratch an itch you can’t easily reach!

Doctor Julian Lane is a lower limb orthopaedic specialist in Brisbane. If you require a consultation about an injury or have pain associated with bones and joints, give the team a call today on (07) 3394 4228 to book an appointment.

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