(Setting a Fracture)
by Editorial Staff And Contributors
This procedure is done to return a broken bone to its proper alignment. An open fracture reduction involves cutting through the skin to realign the bones during an operation. Screws and a plate or external support frame may be needed to hold the fragments in place.
Reasons for Procedure
This procedure is used if the bone is in many pieces, is difficult to reduce, or wasn't reduced with a closed reduction.
Fracture reduction is done for the following reasons:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a fracture reduction, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Leading up to the procedure:
Your doctor may give you:
Description of the Procedure
A incision will be made in the skin covering the break. This is to expose the bone fragments. The bone fragments will be moved into their normal position. Screws, a plate with screws, or a rod may be used inside the body or an external frame fixed to the bone fragments may be used to hold the bones in place. The incision will be closed with stitches. The area will be protected with a splint or cast and dressings.
Immediately After Procedure
Another x-ray will be ordered to make sure the bone is in the correct position.
How Long Will It Take?
This depends on the type and location of the fracture.
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
0-3 days (depending on the severity of the injury and your recovery)
Small bones usually heal in 3-6 weeks. Long bones will take more time. Your doctor may have you work with a physical therapist. Therapy can help you to regain normal function.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Orthopedic Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Setting broken bones. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at:
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Accessed August 30, 2017.
10/30/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Gosselin RA, Roberts I, Gillespie WJ. Antibiotics for preventing infection in open limb fractures. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD003764.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/26/2014
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