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What about surgery for a broken bone?
The decision to operate on a fracture depends upon the type of fracture,
whether it can heal in good alignment on its own, and whether other potential
Sometimes patients are taken to the operating room for a closed reduction
(resetting of the bone) and
splinting of the fracture. When a fracture is markedly displaced and
misaligned, it may be too painful to move or manipulated the bone without an
If it appears that the fracture is unstable and cannot be held in place and
in good alignment with just a splint or cast, an open reduction and internal
fixation (ORIF) may be needed. An incision is made so that the bony pieces can
be identified and aligned. Metal plates and screws, wires or rods may be used to
stabilize the fracture. The hardware may be left in place forever or it may be
there only temporarily until the fracture heals. Hip fractures almost always
require ORIF to allow the patient to heal and regain the ability to walk.
Surgery may be required in situations where there is associated injury to
arteries and nerves and they need to be repaired or decompressed.
Open fractures often have to go to the operating room to be washed out to
prevent infection of the bone (osteomyelitis).