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ORIF of a Wrist Fracture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 5, 2023.

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

ORIF of a wrist fracture is surgery to fix a broken wrist. Open reduction means that the bone is moved back into the right place with surgery. Internal fixation means that hardware (such as screws, rods, or pins) is used to hold the broken bones together.

Internal Fixation Device

How do I prepare for ORIF?

  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home after 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. Tell him or her if you had an allergic reaction to anesthesia or antibiotics.

What will happen during ORIF?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the area. You will be awake for surgery if you get local anesthesia, but you should not feel pain. Your surgeon will make one or more incisions on your wrist. The broken bones will be put back into the correct position. Medical plates, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the broken bones together. A bone graft may be placed in or around the fracture to strengthen your wrist.
  • X-rays may be taken during surgery to make sure the broken bone is set properly. X-rays also show if the pins, plates, and screws are placed correctly. Your surgeon will close your incision with stitches or staples. A splint will be placed over your wrist to prevent movement while your wrist heals.

What should I expect after ORIF?

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you may be able to go home. Medicine may be given to relieve or prevent pain or nausea.

What are the risks of ORIF for a wrist fracture?

Your tendons and nerves may get injured during or after surgery. Your broken wrist may not heal properly. You may continue to have wrist pain. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot.

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. 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.