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Health Information Center

Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Surgery

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Surgery



An open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) puts pieces of a broken bone into place using surgery. Screws, plates, sutures, or rods are used to hold the broken bone together.

Reasons for Procedure

An ORIF is often done as an emergency procedure when a broken bone is in many pieces. It is done to allow the bones to heal together.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but no procedure is free of risk. Some things that may happen are:

  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Fat particles or blood clots that move to the lungs
  • The need for later surgery if the bone does not heal well

Talk to your doctor about things that may raise your risk of problems, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chronic health problems, such as diabetes or obesity
  • The use of certain medicines

What to Expect

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Pain that does not get better with medicine
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Numbness or tingling at the injury site
  • Problems moving the fingers or toes of an injured arm or leg
  • A cast that feels too tight
  • Burning or stinging under a cast
  • Red skin around a cast
  • Itching under a cast that does not go away
  • Cracks or soft spots in a cast
  • Chalky white, blue, or black skin color in the fingers, toes, arm, or leg

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.





  • Femoral shaft fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/femoral-shaft-fracture-emergency-management.
  • Fractures: an overview. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00139.
  • Setting broken bones. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Orthopaedic-Center/Treatment/Setting-Broken-Bones.aspx.
  • Welck MJ, Hayes T, et al. Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. Injury 2017 Aug;48(8):1722.


  • Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.