Open Reduction And Internal Fixation Of An Elbow Fracture In Children

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

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

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's primary healthcare provider as directed:

Your child will need to return to have his wound checked and stitches or cast removed. He may be given an elbow brace that allows more movement. This will help prevent elbow stiffness. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ask when your child can bathe:

When your child is allowed to bathe, cover his cast with 2 plastic bags. Tape the bags to his skin to keep the water out. Keep the cast out of the water so it does not get wet. If your child does not have a cast, carefully wash his wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change his bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Cast, splint, or brace care:

  • Check the skin around the cast, splint, or brace each day. Apply lotion on any red or sore areas.

  • Do not let your child push down or lean on any part of the cast, splint, or brace, because it may break.

  • Do not let your child scratch the skin under the cast, splint, or brace with any sharp or pointed object.

  • Remind your child to move his fingers several times a day. This will help decrease stiffness and swelling.

Physical therapy:

Your child may need to see a physical therapist to teach him special exercises. These exercises will help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your child's risk for loss of function.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child has chills, a cough, or feels weak and achy.

  • Your child's cast gets wet.

  • Your child's cast, splint, or brace begins to smell.

  • Your child's wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.

  • Your child's pain does not get better, even after he takes pain medicine.

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

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage.

  • Your child tells you that his cast feels too tight.

  • Your child says his fingers are numb or tingle.

  • Your child's cast, splint, or brace breaks or gets damaged.

  • Your child's stitches or staples come apart.

  • Your child has more swelling in his fingers.

  • Your child's fingers look pale or blue.

  • Your child has chest pain, a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing, or has fainted.

© 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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