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External Fixation For Leg Fractures In Children


  • External (eks-TER-nal) fixation (fik-SA-shun) of a leg fracture is surgery to repair your child's broken leg. A leg fracture is a break in the bones of his leg, such as the femur, tibia, fibula, and patella. The femur, or the thigh bone, is the longest bone in your child's body. The tibia, or shin bone, and the fibula, located behind the tibia, make up the lower leg. The leg bones help support your child's weight, and may break in different locations depending on the cause. Bad injuries caused by a fall, car accident, sports injury, or physical abuse may cause leg fractures. Your child may feel severe pain, have bruising and swelling, or have his bones sticking out through deep cuts on his skin.
  • External fixation is usually done if leg bones are broken at several places, or if bones are showing through deep cuts. It may be done if the tissues directly above the fracture has been badly damaged. It may also be done if the fractures are found at the ends of the leg bones. During this surgery, broken bones are aligned together by carefully pushing, pulling, and turning the broken leg. He will do this without making a cut on your child's skin. He may need to use drills, pins, rods, and screws to align the broken bones and hold them together. While being held steady, the chips of broken bone will grow together and get stronger. With an external fixation, your child's leg fracture may be treated and he may resume his usual activities.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and 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. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • 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. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • 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.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight an infection caused by bacteria. Give your child this medicine exactly as ordered by his healthcare provider. Do not stop giving your child the antibiotics unless directed by his healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or give your child leftover antibiotics that were given to him for another illness.
  • 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.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Ask your caregiver when your child will need to return to have the pins removed. Your child may have to use crutches for some time to let the affected leg heal better. Your child's caregiver may teach your child how to use crutches.

Caring for the pin sites:

The pin sites are the areas of skin where the pins were inserted. There is a chance that these areas may get infected. To prevent infection, you may do the following:

  • Check the skin around the pins every day.
  • Clean the skin around the pins with hydrogen peroxide and a sterile (clean) solution. Do this twice a day. Your child's caregiver will tell you when to stop using peroxide.
  • Ask your child's caregiver when it is OK to get the pin sites wet while bathing

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist will help your child with special exercises. Let your child do only the exercises advised by his caregiver and only as often as his caregiver suggests. Do not let your child do more than the range of motion exercises advised by his caregiver.

Preventing another fracture:

  • Never leave a baby alone on a changing table, bed or couch.
  • When driving, always put your child in a car safety seat in the back seat. Ask your caregiver for information about car safety seats.
  • Do not start the car until your child's seat belt is fastened.
  • Make sure your child wears protective gear (wrist guards, helmets, kneepads, and mouth guards) that meets safety standards when playing sports.
  • Never let your child roller-skate, ride a bicycle, go in-line skating, or skateboarding without a helmet. Ask your caregiver for information about bicycle helmet safety.


  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has chills, a cough, or feels weak and achy.
  • Your child is irritable and crying more than usual.
  • Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • There is a bad smell from your child's leg.
  • You have any questions or concerns about your child's surgery, medicine, or care.


  • You notice that the frame, or the pins are loose or move more than usual.
  • Your child's toes look pale or blue, and feel cold, numb or tingly.
  • Your child's bandages become soaked with blood.
  • Your child's has trouble breathing all of a sudden.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about External Fixation For Leg Fractures In Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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