Those that have recently sustained a fracture may anticipate having a cast, sling and perhaps even surgery. While these are all various methods for treating a fracture, not all of them may be appropriate for some kinds of breaks. When the bone is broken in a location, such as the clavicle or the hip for example, the patient may often discover that it is impossible to avoid an invasive procedure. Although there are different types of orthopedic surgery, open reduction internal fixation, commonly called ORIF may be an option.
What is ORIF?
This procedure is different from other interventions used to treat fractures in multiple ways. Rather than externally secure the injury with splints, casts and other devices, the bone is secured internally. Fixation is created through the use of screws, pins, plates and sometimes rods that anchor the bone to a stable surface, another bone. Open reduction internal fixation is used in several cases in which the orthopedic surgeon believes that internally securing the bone may be more beneficial.
What Are the Advantages?
Despite the fact that this is an invasive procedure, there are many benefits associated with this option. For example, some injuries are difficult if not impossible to stabilize externally; doing so can create complications and limit the individual’s range of motion. In most cases, full range of motion at the distal and proximal ends of the affected area is possible following a complete recovery. This can help prevent multiple interventions and delayed healing times in the patient. Statistics provided by the National Institutes of Health also indicate that this is actually one of the preferred methods for treating fractures in the elderly.
Are There Risks Associated with ORIF?
This is a surgical procedure and there are always some risks associated with any type of surgery. However, the most common risks are usually rare and quite mild. They include problems with anesthesia, nerve damage and infection. It is important to note that these issues arise in less than six percent of patients though. As a matter of fact, the nerve damage associated with the open reduction procedure is often mild, with the most patients making a complete recovery without further medical intervention.
Other Important Considerations
Although ORIF has been shown effective in numerous patients, this may not necessarily be the best option for you. In contrast, it may not be selective for some patients either, especially during an emergency. You should always consult with your physician regarding any questions or concerns that you may have about this surgery and whether or not there are other options in your unique situation.
Acetabular Fractures in the Elderly: Treatment Recommendations. Pub Med. National Institutes for Health. Published 12, July 2010. Viewed 20, November 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2488167/
Midshaft Humerus Fractures: Treatment. eMedicine from WebMD. Updated 9, April 2010. Viewed 20, November 2010. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1239985-treatment
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Surgery. New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Last Updated October 2010. Viewed November 20, 2010. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=539804