Open Reduction And Internal Fixation Of An Ankle Fracture

What you should know

Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of an ankle fracture is surgery to fix a broken ankle. Medical wires, screws, pins, or plates are used to hold the bones in place while they heal.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Risks

  • You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, or muscles may be damaged during surgery. Your leg, ankle, or foot may become stiff, numb, and weak. You may still have ankle pain. Your broken ankle may not heal properly. You may not be able to walk or move your foot and leg the way you did before your injury. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities.

  • You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. This can be life-threatening. Without treatment, your ankle may heal in a crooked position. Your legs may be different lengths. Your pain may get worse.

Getting Ready

The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • If you have diabetes, ask your caregiver for special instructions about what you may eat and drink before your surgery. If you use medicine to treat diabetes, your caregiver may have special instructions about using it before surgery. You may need to check your blood sugar more often before and after having surgery.

  • You may need blood or urine tests before your surgery. You may also need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI of the ankle and foot. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

Treatment

What will happen:

An incision will be made on or around your ankle. Caregivers will use wires, screws, plates, or pins to put the broken bones back together. A bone graft may be placed in or around the fracture to fill any defect. Bone is added to make it stronger as the natural bone grows around the graft. A bone graft is bone from another part of your body or another person. Caregivers may flush the area to remove small, loose pieces of broken bone. Damaged blood vessels and nerves will also be repaired. X-rays may be taken to see if the bones are in the correct position. The wound will be closed with stitches or medical tape and covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have a skin infection or wound near the area where surgery will be done.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have more pain or trouble moving your leg, ankle, or foot.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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