Skip to Content

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.


The week before your child's surgery:

  • Write down the date, time, and location of your child's surgery.
  • Your child may need blood or urine tests before his surgery. He may also need chest or elbow x-rays. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about these or other tests your child may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your child's surgery:

Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your child's surgery:

  • Ask your child's healthcare provider before you give your child any medicine on the day of his surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines your child takes, or his pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Healthcare providers will check that your child's medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine he needs for 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 on your child. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your child's vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Your child may be given liquids and medicine through the IV tube.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you and your child before the surgery. Your child may need medicine to keep him asleep or numb an area of his body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

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.


  • Your child cannot make it to his surgery.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a skin infection or wound near the injured elbow.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your child has more pain or trouble moving his arm, hand, or fingers.


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.

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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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 (Precare)

IBM Watson Micromedex