Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do the following:
X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
Provide a splint for the broken bone to decrease the risk of additional injury
Leading up to the procedure:
You may be given antibiotics if you have an open fracture.
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 will usually give you
local anesthesia to numb the area; it is given as an injection. You may also be given a sedative.
In some cases, general anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the procedure if this is the case.
Description of the Procedure
The bone fragments will be manipulated into their normal position. The doctor will apply traction and use a cast or splint to hold the bones in place. No incisions are needed.
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 some pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
You will usually be able to go home after the procedure.
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.
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.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Severe or unusual pain that is not relieved by pain medicine
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
Numbness and/or tingling in the injured extremity
Loss of movement in the fingers or toes of the injured arm or leg
The cast feels too tight
Burning or stinging sensations under the cast
Redness of the skin around the cast
Persistent itching under the cast
Cracks or soft spots develop in the cast
Chalky white, blue, or black discoloration of fingers, toes, arm, or leg
¹10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Gosselin RA, Roberts I, Gillespie WJ. Antibiotics for preventing infection in open limb fractures.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a