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External Fixation for Leg Fractures in Children


What do I need to know about external fixation of a leg fracture?

External fixation of a leg fracture is surgery to repair your child's broken leg.

External Fixation Device

How do we prepare for my child's external fixation?

Your child's healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for his surgery. He may tell you not to give your child anything to eat or drink after midnight on the day of his surgery. He will tell you what medicines your child may or may not take on the day of his surgery.

What will happen during external fixation?

General anesthesia will keep your child asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your child's healthcare provider will align the broken bones 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 use a fluoroscope (x-ray) to help him insert pins and correctly align the bones. Holes will be made in the bones by using a drill to insert screws and long metal pins. These pins will be placed above and below his fracture to keep the bones aligned properly. These pins will stick out through your child's skin and other rods and devices will be attached to them. An x-ray may be done to see if the bones were set in the right way. Bandages will be wrapped around the areas where the pins were inserted.

What are the risks of external fixation?

Other parts of the leg, such as nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, and bones may be damaged. Your child's leg, foot, or toes may become stiff, swollen, painful, numb, or weak. Even after surgery, your child's broken leg may not heal quite right. His leg movements may not be the same as they were before. His legs may not grow evenly, causing one to be shorter than the other. Some nearby joints may become stiff, and muscles may become weak. Your child may have trouble returning to his usual activities, such as sports.

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. 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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Further information

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