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ORIF of an Elbow Fracture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

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

ORIF is surgery to fix a broken elbow. Open reduction means the bones are moved back into the correct position. Internal fixation means plates, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.

Internal Fixation Device

How do I prepare for ORIF?

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 regional anesthesia to numb the area. You will be awake with regional anesthesia, but you should not feel pain. An incision will be made on or around your elbow fracture. Your surgeon will move the bones back into the correct position. He or she may use plates, screws, pins, or wires to hold the broken pieces 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.

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 healthcare providers see that you are okay, you may be able to go home.

What are the risks of ORIF for an elbow fracture?

Nerves, ligaments, and muscles may be damaged during surgery. Your arm, hand, or fingers may become stiff, numb, or weak. Your elbow may not heal properly. You may not be able to move your elbow the way you did before the injury. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities.

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.