(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 TOP
It 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:
Possible Complications TOP
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:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to the procedure:
Your doctor may give you:
Description of the Procedure TOP
The doctor will make a cut 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 doctor will close the incision with stitches. The area will be protected with a splint or cast and dressings.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
The doctor will order another x-ray to ensure the bone is in the correct position.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
This depends on the type and location of the fracture.
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
0-3 days (depending on the severity of the injury and your recovery)
Post-procedure Care TOP
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth 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. He can help you to regain normal function. In some cases, you may be able to return to daily activities within a few days while wearing the cast or splint.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopedic Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org . Accessed September 2, 2009.
Setting a broken bone without surgery (closed reduction). University of Michigan Health System website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 2008. Accessed September 2, 2009.
10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Gosselin RA, Roberts I, Gillespie WJ. Antibiotics for preventing infection in open limb fractures. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD003764.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013