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Surgery to Set a Broken Bone

What is surgery to set a broken bone?

Surgery to set a broken bone is done by making cuts in the skin so the broken bone can be seen and then putting the broken pieces back into place. The bone is then held in place with screws, metal plates, or rods attached to the bone.

When is it used?

The surgery may be done if:

  • Your bone is broken in more than 1 place or the bone can’t be put into the correct position without surgery.
  • Pieces of bone have gone through the skin.
  • You need plates, pins, or screws to help hold the pieces of bone in place while they heal.

Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help with your day-to-day tasks while you recover.
  • Tell your provider if you have any food or medicine allergies.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any instructions your healthcare provider may give you.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be given a regional or general anesthetic to keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. Regional anesthesia numbs part of the body while you stay awake. If you have regional anesthesia, you may also be given medicine to help you relax. The medicine can make you drowsy or you may fall asleep before the procedure. General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and you will be asleep.

Your healthcare provider will make 1 or more cuts in the area of the broken bone. Your provider will then move the pieces of bone back into their proper places. Your provider may secure the bone with pins, screws, plates, wire, or rods to help it stay in the correct position. Then the cuts in your skin will be closed. Your provider may put the broken bone in a cast or splint to keep it from moving while it heals.

What happens after the procedure?

You may go home later in the day, or you may need to spend a couple of days in the hospital.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have infection, bleeding, or blood clots.
  • You may lose some feeling in the area of the break near the incisions.
  • If the bone is soft or broken into many pieces, the plate or screws may not hold the bone together completely and you may need another surgery to repair the broken bone.
  • If pins, screws, plates, wire, or rods were used, they might cause problems, such as an infection, after the surgery. In this case you may need another surgery to remove the hardware.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-17
Last reviewed: 2014-07-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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