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Ankle Fracture Repair

Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is a type of surgery used to stabilize and heal a broken bone. You might need this procedure to treat your broken ankle. Three bones make up the ankle joint. These are the tibia (shinbone), the fibula (the smaller bone in your leg), and the talus (a bone in your foot).

 

Conditions

Different kinds of injuries can damage the lower tibia, lower fibula, or talus. In some cases, you might break more than one of these bones. In certain types of fractures, your bone breaks but the pieces still line up correctly. In other types of fractures, the injury can move the bone fragments out of alignment.

If you fracture your ankle, you might need ORIF to move your bones back into place and help them heal. During an open reduction surgery, orthopedic surgeons reposition your bone pieces so that they are back in their proper alignment. In a closed reduction, a healthcare provider physically moves the bones back into place without surgically exposing the bone.

 

Surgery

Internal fixation refers to the method of physically reconnecting the bones. This might involve special screws, plates, rods, wires, or nails that we place inside your bones to hold them in their correct place. This prevents the bones from healing abnormally.

Surgery will depend on the location and severity of your injury. The whole operation may take a few hours. In general, you can expect the following:

  • You will receive general anesthesia. This will make you sleep through the operation so that you won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the operation.
  • We will carefully monitor your vital signs, like your heart rate and blood pressure, during the operation.
  • After cleaning the affected area, we will make an incision through the skin and muscle of your leg.
  • We will bring the pieces of your tibia or fibula back into alignment (“reduction”).
  • Next, we will secure the pieces of your tibia or fibula to each other (“fixation”). To do this, we will use tools like screws, metal plates, nails, wires, or pins. For a fracture in the middle part of the tibia, we often use a specially designed long metal rod that passes through the middle of the bone.
  • We may make other repairs, if necessary.
  • After we have secured the bone, we will close the layers of skin and muscle around your leg.

 

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