Open Reduction Internal Fixation
By Belinda Kirkland, DPT, CHT, ATC
Open Reduction Internal Fixation
What is ORIF?
The quick answer, ORIF is the abbreviation for a procedure called open reduction internal fixation. ORIF involves surgery to reconnect the bones using various hardware such as screws, nails, plates, pins, wires, and rods.
How ORIF is Performed?
An orthopedic surgeon performs the procedure. 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. The surgeon then fixes the bone utilizing hardware to help keep the bones together in a good position and 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 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 into 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 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
The benefits of having surgery for Open Reduction and Internal Fixation include the restoration of normal function, decreasing pain, and aiding with complete healing. The surgery also aids in preventing further injury.
How to care for Myself at Home
To help your recovery at home, 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. Keep the incision clean and covered. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to shower and bathe.
When should I call my Doctor?
Call your doctor if you have a fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 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.
All JOI clinics now offer Telemedicine services for virtual visits from the convenience of your home.
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.