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ORIF of a Leg Fracture


Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is surgery to fix a fractured (broken) bone in your leg. Orthopedic hardware (screws or plates) is used to hold the broken bone together while it heals.

Internal Fixation Device


The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. You may also have tests of your nerves and blood vessels before surgery. Talk to your healthcare provider about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Providers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • 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.
  • 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.


What will happen:

  • An incision will be made in the skin over your broken bone. Your healthcare provider will put the broken bone pieces back together. Metal pins, screws, rods, or plates will be screwed into the side of the broken bones to hold them together while they heal. Your healthcare provider may take some bone from your hip. The bone can be used to help fix your broken leg.
  • X-rays may be taken during surgery to help healthcare providers make sure your broken bone is straight. The x-rays also tell your healthcare providers if the pins, plates, and screws are placed correctly. Healthcare providers may put a hinge called an external fixator on the outside of your broken bone. It will be taken off when your bones have healed. The incision will be closed with stitches. Steri-strips (thin strips of medical tape) may be put over your incision. A brace or cast will be put on your leg to help hold the bones straight while they heal.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room. A bandage will cover your stitches. You may also have a cast or brace. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay.


  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot make it to your surgery appointment on time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.


  • You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. After surgery, your leg may not heal correctly. The nerves or blood vessels near the bone may have been damaged when your leg was broken. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. You are also at risk of developing a fat emboli. This is when fat is forced out of the inside of the bone (bone marrow) and can block a blood vessel. These problems can be life-threatening.
  • If you do not have surgery, your broken leg may not heal right. You could also get a serious infection.

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.

Further information

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