Open Reduction Internal Fixation

By Belinda Kirkland, DPT, CHT, ATC

Open Reduction Internal Fixation

Open Reduction Internal Fixation

Open Reduction Internal Fixation.


ORIF is the abbreviation for a procedure called open reduction internal fixation. ORIF involves surgery to reconnect the bones by using various hardware such as screws, nails, plates, pins, wires and rods.

How ORIF is Performed

The procedure is performed by an Orthopedic Surgeon and the patient is placed under anesthesia, either  general or local. An incision is made by the surgeon to access the bone. In the first stage of the procedure, the surgeon tries to reposition the bones to restore normal alignment. Then the surgeon fixes the bone utilizing hardware to help keep the bones together in a good position and to keep the break from healing abnormally.  The incision is then closed and covered with a bandage.  A cast or splint may be placed on the area to help protect the bones as they heal.


After the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room to be monitored by a Nurse while you are waking up from anesthesia. Your vital signs, movement, and circulation will be checked often. Most patients with an arm fracture go home the same day. If you have a fracture of the leg, you may have to stay overnight in the hospital.

Why do I need it?

A person can require Open Reduction and Internal Fixation if the bone is broken in many pieces, if the bone is sticking out of the skin or if a joint is dislocated. It can also be done if the bone is not lined up correctly to improve alignment.

Risks and Potential Complications associated with ORIF

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with Open Reduction and Internal Fixation. Risks include blood loss that may require a transfusion, nerve damage, pain, swelling, muscle spasms, blood clots and non-union.  There is a risk of bacterial infection with this procedure. After the surgery is completed, some patients have pain associated with their hardware and at a later date, the hardware may be able to be removed.

Benefits of ORIF

Benefits of having surgery for Open Reduction and Internal Fixation include restoration of normal function, decreasing pain and aiding with complete healing.  The surgery also aids with preventing further injury.

How to care for myself at Home

In order to help your recovery at home go better, use your pain medication as directed by your Surgeon following your Open Reduction Internal Fixation. Call your Doctor if your pain is not controlled with the medication. Elevating the affected limb is beneficial to reduce swelling. It is advised to keep the incision clean and covered. Your Doctor will tell you when it is alright to shower and bathe.

When should I call my Doctor?

Call your Doctor if you have a fever over 101.5 degrees Farenheit. If you develop skin irritation or sores around the cast or note color changes in the fingers or toes (blue color), notify your Doctor. You should also call your Doctor if your pain is not controlled by medication.  You should call 911 or go to the Emergency Room (ER) if you experience active bleeding where the blood is bright red, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat that comes on suddenly.


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JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

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By: Belinda Kirkland, DPT, CHT, ATC

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