Skip to main content

ORIF of a Leg Fracture in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of a leg fracture?

ORIF of a leg fracture is surgery to repair your child's broken leg. Open reduction means the bones will be moved back into the correct position. Internal fixation means hardware (such as rods or pins) is used to hold the broken bones together while they heal.

Internal Fixation Device

How do I prepare my child for ORIF?

  • Your child's surgeon will tell you how to prepare your child for surgery. He or she may tell you not to let your child eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery.
  • Tell your child's surgeon about any medicines your child is taking. He or she will tell you if your child should stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines your child should take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Your child may need to have blood and urine tests, and leg x-rays.

What will happen during ORIF?

  • An incision will be made in the skin over the broken bone. Your child's surgeon will put the broken bones together. Screws, rods, or pins will be attached to your child's broken bone to hold the pieces together while they heal. Damaged blood vessels and nerves will also be repaired.
  • An x-ray may be done to make sure the broken bone is in the correct position. The incision will be closed with stitches or surgical tape and covered with bandages. Your child's healthcare provider will put a cast or splint on your child's leg to help hold the bones in the correct position while they heal.

What should my child expect after ORIF?

Your child will be taken to a room where he or she can rest until fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor him or her closely. When they see that your child is okay, they will take him or her to a hospital room. Your child may be sleepy and have pain after surgery. Do not let your child get out of bed until healthcare providers say it is okay. Leave your child's bandages on until his healthcare provider removes them.

  • A brace or cast will be put on your child's broken leg after surgery.
  • Drains may be put into your child's skin to remove fluid from the incision wound.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain, infection, nausea, or a blood clot.

What are the risks of ORIF for a leg fracture?

Nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, or muscles in your child's leg may be damaged. His or her leg, foot, or toes may become stiff, swollen, painful, numb, or weak. Even with surgery, your child's broken leg may not heal as expected. His or her leg movements may not be the same as they were before. Your child may have trouble going back to his or her usual activities, including 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 healthcare providers 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.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

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