Munson Health
Fracture Reduction -- Open

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by Puzanov I

(Setting a Fracture)



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.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will likely do the following:
  • Physical exam
  • X-ray —to look for the location and type of fracture
  • Provide a splint for the broken bone to decrease the risk of additional injury until it can be reduced
Leading up to the procedure:
  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs (such as, aspirin )
    • Blood thinners, like warfarin (Coumadin)
    • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • You may need to take antibiotics, if advised by your doctor.
  • If you are at home arrange for a ride to and from the procedure. Also, arrange for help at home.
  • Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


Your doctor may give you:
  • General anesthesia —blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery
  • Local anesthesia—numbs the area; given as an injection (You may also be given a sedative.)

Description of the Procedure

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.
Open Reduction of Tibia
Tibia repair
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Immediately After Procedure

The doctor will order another x-ray to ensure the bone is in the correct position.

How Long Will It Take?

This depends on the type and location of the fracture.

How Much Will It Hurt?

You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.

Average Hospital Stay

0-3 days (depending on the severity of the injury and your recovery)

Post-procedure Care

At Home
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
  • Rest your injured arm or leg on pillows. Elevate it above the level of your heart.
  • Gently move uninjured joints and toes.
  • Keep the cast, splint, and dressing clean and dry.
  • Wait until a "walking cast" is dry before walking on it.
  • Do not pull out the cast's padding. Do not break off any part of the cast.
  • Keep objects, dirt, and powder out of the cast.
  • Do not try to scratch under the cast.
  • Do not drive until told it is safe.
  • Change the dressing as directed.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
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.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopedic Society



Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: . Accessed September 2, 2009.

Setting a broken bone without surgery (closed reduction). University of Michigan Health System website. Available at: Updated January 2008. Accessed September 2, 2009.

10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Gosselin RA, Roberts I, Gillespie WJ. Antibiotics for preventing infection in open limb fractures. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD003764.


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