Type of Surgery


Doctor Certified

Last updated: 11/24/2009


Surgical risks of fracture repair are greater in persons over 60 years of age because the bones often require more time to properly heal. Obesity may place extra stress on the fracture site, affecting healing and possibly increasing the risk of re-fracturing...

the same bone. The healing process after fracture repair may also be slowed by smoking, as well as by poor nutrition, alcoholism, and chronic illness. Some medications may affect the fracture site, causing poor union; such medications include anti-hypertensives and such steroids as cortisone.

Possible complications following fracture repair include excessive bleeding, improper fit of joined bone ends, pressure on nearby nerves, delayed healing, and a permanent incomplete healing (union) of the fracture. If there is a poor blood supply to the fractured site and one of the portions of broken bone is not adequately supplied with blood, the bony portion may die and healing of the fracture will not take place. This complication is called aseptic necrosis. Poor immobilization of the fracture from improper casting that permits motion between the bone parts may prevent healing and repair of the bone, and result in possible deformity. Infection can interfere with bone repair. This risk is greater in the case of a compound fracture (a bone fracture involving a portion of bone that breaks through the surface of skin). Compound fracture sites provide ideal conditions for severe infections by Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria. Occasionally, fractured bones in the elderly may possibly never heal properly. The risk is increased when nutrition is poor.



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In this patient, a fall has resulted in fractures in the bones of the elbow (B). To repair the fracture, an incision is made in the elbow area (C), and the bones are fixed with screws to aid proper healing (D). (Illustration by GGS Inc.) In this patient, a fall has resulted in fractures in the bones of the elbow (B). To repair the fracture, an incision is made in the elbow area (C), and the bones are fixed with screws to aid proper healing (D). (Illustration by GGS Inc.)


Other Information

Fracture repair is the process of rejoining and realigning the ends of broken bones. This procedure is usually performed by an orthopedist, general surgeon, or family doctor. In cases of an emergency, first aid measures should be evoked for temporary realignment and immobilization until proper medical help is available.

Fracture repair is required when there is a need for restoration of the normal position and function of the broken bone. Throughout the stages of fracture healing, the bones must be held firmly in the correct position. In the event the fracture is not properly repaired, malalignment of the bone may occur, resulting in possible physical dysfunction of the bone or joint of that region of the body.

Fracture repair is applied by means of traction, surgery, and/or by immobilization of the bones. The bone fragments are aligned as close as possible to the normal position without injuring the skin. Metal wires or screws may be needed to align smaller bone fragments. Once the broken ends of the bone are set, the affected area is immobilized for several weeks and kept rigid with a sling, plaster cast, brace or splint. With the use of traction, muscle pull on the fracture site is overcome by weights attached to a series of ropes running over pulleys. Strategically implanted electrical stimulation devices have proven beneficial in healing a fracture site, especially when the fracture is healing poorly and repair by other means is difficult.

From http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/ency/fracture_repair.jsp

Other Information

New procedures like minimally invasive procedures are often subject to scrutiny, but I think that one of the biggest problems facing these innovative procedures is for people to understand exactly what we do.

-Dr. Michael Perry, Laser Spine institute

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