Open Reduction And Internal Fixation Of An Arm Fracture

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 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. You may be allergic to anesthesia medicine and have trouble breathing. Your arm may become stiff, numb, and weak. Your broken arm may not heal properly. You may not be able to move your arm the way you did before your injury. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities. You may get compartment syndrome (increased pressure in your arm), which can damage muscles and tissue. You may need surgery on your arm again.

  • 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 broken arm will heal in a crooked position. You may have pain and trouble moving it. Skin tissue near the fracture can die. You can get a severe infection.

Getting Ready

The week before your surgery:

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

  • 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.

  • You may need an x-ray or MRI of your arm. These help your caregiver plan your surgery. 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:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

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

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Treatment

What will happen:

An incision will be made on or around your 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. 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. 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 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 may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have an open wound that is bleeding or draining pus.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have more pain or trouble moving your arm.

© 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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