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External Fixation of an Ankle Fracture

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

External fixation of an ankle fracture is surgery to repair your broken ankle. Fixation means the bones will be held in the correct position with medical hardware, such as pins and screws.

External Fixation Device

HOW TO PREPARE:

The week before your surgery:

  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare for surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home from surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all your allergies, including allergies to medicines or anesthesia.
  • You may need to have blood and urine tests before surgery. You may also need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI of your ankle and foot.

The night before your surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

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 healthcare providers 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.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.
  • An IV will be placed in a vein in your arm. You may get medicines or liquids through the IV.
  • 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 healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

What will happen:

  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your healthcare provider will move the broken bones back into the correct position. He or she will try to do this without making an incision on your skin. He or she may have to make small incisions for bones that are hard to reach. A fluoroscope (x-ray) may be used to help your surgeon insert pins and correctly align the bones.
  • Your surgeon will use a drill to make holes in your bone above and below the fracture. Screws and long metal pins will be inserted through the holes to keep the bones in the correct position. The pins will stick out through your skin. 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 pins were inserted.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room. Bandages keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages soon after your surgery to check your wound.

CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • Your skin near the injured ankle is red, swollen, or painful.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have increased pain or difficulty moving your leg, ankle, or foot.

Risks

You may develop an infection. Other parts of your ankle and foot, such as nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, and bones, may be damaged. Your leg, ankle, or foot may become stiff, numb, and weak. Even after surgery, you may still have ankle pain or problems moving your leg or foot. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities, such as sports.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

Learn more about External Fixation of an Ankle Fracture (Precare)

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Further information

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