Open Reduction And Internal Fixation Of An Arm Fracture In Children

What you should know

Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of an arm fracture is surgery to fix a broken arm bone. This may include the humerus (upper arm bone), radius, or ulna (lower arm bones). Medical plates, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.

Care Agreement

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

Risks

  • Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. He may be allergic to anesthesia medicine and have trouble breathing. His arm may become stiff, numb, or weak. The hardware in his arm may loosen and move out of place. His broken arm may not heal properly. He may not be able to move his arm the way he did before the injury. He may get compartment syndrome (increased pressure in his arm), which can damage muscles and tissue. Your child's broken arm may not grow as long as his other arm.

  • Without surgery, your child's arm may heal in a crooked position. He may have pain and trouble moving or using his arm. He may have numbness or damage to his blood vessels. Skin tissue near the fracture can die. He can get a severe infection.

Getting Ready

The week before your child's surgery:

  • Write down the date, time, and location of your child's surgery.

  • When you take your child to see his caregiver, bring a list of his medicines or the medicine bottles. Tell caregivers if your child uses herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. If your child is allergic to any medicine, tell his caregiver.

  • Your child may need x-rays or blood tests before his surgery. Talk to your child's caregiver about these or other tests your child may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your child's surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your child's surgery:

  • 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 on your child. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your child's vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Your child may be given liquids and medicine through the IV tube.

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

Treatment

What will happen:

An incision will be made on or around your child's arm fracture. Dead tissue and small pieces of bone will be removed and damaged muscles or tendons fixed. Caregivers will use plates, screws, pins, or wires to put the broken pieces back together. X-rays may be taken to see if the bones are in the correct position. The wound will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with bandages.

After your child's surgery:

Your child will be taken to a room to rest until he is fully awake. Caregivers will monitor him closely for any problems. Do not let your child get out of bed until his caregiver says it is okay. When caregivers see that your child is okay, he may be able to go home. If your child is staying in the hospital, he will be taken to his room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • Your child cannot make it to his surgery.

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child is sick with a cold or the flu.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your child's pain or swelling is getting worse.

  • Your child's arm or fingers feel cold and look blue or pale.

  • Your child tells you that his fingers are numb or tingling.

© 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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