Open Reduction and Internal Fixation Surgery
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
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.
Problems are rare, but no procedure is free of risk. Some things that may happen are:
Talk to your doctor about things that may raise your risk of problems, such as:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
This is often as an emergency procedure. Before your surgery:
Instructions will be given if the surgery is planned. Before surgery:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep. Some people may need a spinal block. This will numb the area where surgery will be done.
Description of Procedure
An incision will be made in the skin above the break. The pieces of bone will be moved into the right place. A plate with screws, a pin, or a rod that goes through the bone will be attached to the bone to hold the broken parts together. The incision will be closed with staples or stitches and covered with bandages. The area will be protected with a splint or cast.
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Immediately After Procedure
An x-ray will be done to make sure the bone is in the right place.
How Long Will It Take?
An ORIF surgery can take several hours. It depends on the type and location of the broken bone.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. Pain after the procedure can be managed with medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
Most people are able to go home the next day. People who have problems may need to stay up to a week.
At the Hospital
During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
It can take 3 to 6 weeks for a mild fracture to heal. It may take many months for a severe fracture of a long bone to heal. Exercises to help with muscle strength and range of motion will be needed.
Call Your Doctor
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Femoral shaft fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed September 24, 2019.
Fractures: an overview. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available:
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Updated October 2012. Accessed September 25, 2019.
Setting broken bones. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at:
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Accessed September 25, 2019.
Welck MJ, Hayes T, et al. Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. Injury 2017 Aug;48(8):1722.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/18/2020
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