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Orif Of An Elbow Fracture In Children


Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of an elbow fracture is surgery to fix a broken elbow. The elbow is the joint where the humerus (upper arm bone) meets the radius and ulna (lower arm bones). Medical plates, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.


Before your child's surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.
  • Emotional support: Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.
  • General anesthesia will keep your child asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your child's IV. He may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down his throat. The tube may cause your child to have a sore throat when he wakes up.

During your child's surgery:

An incision will be made on or around your child's elbow fracture. Healthcare providers will use plates, screws, pins, or wires to put the broken pieces back together. Damaged blood vessels and nerves will also be fixed. X-rays may be taken to see if the bones are in the correct position. The wound will be closed with stitches or medical tape and covered with bandages.

After your child's surgery:

Your child will be taken to a room to rest until he is fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor him closely for any problems. Do not let your child get out of bed until his healthcare provider says it is okay. When healthcare providers see that your child is okay, he may be able to go home. If your child is staying in the hospital, he will be taken to his room.

  • Food and drink: Your child will be able to drink liquids and eat certain foods once his stomach function returns after surgery. He may be given ice chips at first. Then he will get liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your child's stomach does not become upset, he may then be given soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once he can eat soft foods easily, he may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • Cast or splint: Your child may need a cast or splint on his elbow. This will help prevent movement so his bones can heal.
  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell healthcare providers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
    • Nausea medicine: This medicine is used to calm your child's stomach and prevent or control vomiting.


Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves, ligaments, and muscles may be damaged during surgery. Your child's arm, hand, or fingers may become stiff, numb, or weak. His broken elbow may not heal properly. He may not be able to move his elbow the way he did before the injury. He may have trouble going back to his usual activities. Without surgery, your child's arm may heal in a crooked position. He may have pain and trouble moving or using his arm.


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.

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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.

Learn more about Orif Of An Elbow Fracture In Children (Inpatient Care)

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