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External Fixation Device for an Adult
An external fixation device
has a metal frame. The frame may go around the limb (arm or leg) or it may go along one side of the limb. The frame is held in place by pins and wires. The pins and wires are put through the skin and attach to bone. The device is used when you have a complex break in your bone. The device is put in place during surgery.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher.
- Your fingers or toes look pale or blue, and are cold, numb, or tingling.
- You have pain and warmth at the pin sites.
- Your sites have more redness and drainage than usual.
- The frame or pins are loose or move more than usual.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, care, or device.
What you need to know about site care:
Site care while you have the device in place is important. Pin sites are where the pins or wires enter the skin. Germs can get into your body through the pin sites and cause infection. Care includes cleaning the sites and looking for infection. Your healthcare provider will teach you and your caregiver how to clean the sites. He or she will tell you how many times in a day to do the cleaning and check for infection.
How to clean your pin sites:
Follow the specific instructions from your healthcare provider.
- You may need to use gauze, cotton swabs, tweezers, a squirt bottle, or gloves. Use a different gauze and swab for each site.
- Your healthcare provider will tell you which liquid to use to clean the site. He or she may tell you to use peroxide, saline, or soap and water.
- You can soak gauze in the liquid and wrap it around the pins to help remove any crusting.
- Always wash your hands before and after you clean the sites.
Keep yourself comfortable:
- Elevate your arm or leg above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your limb on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Apply ice on your limb for 15 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps to decrease swelling and pain.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Your healthcare provider will need to check that your bone is healing properly. Your device will also need to be checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.