Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Open Reduction With Internal Fixation of a Limb: Before Your Child's Surgery
Facebook Tweet Share

Main Content

Open Reduction With Internal Fixation of a Limb: Before Your Child's Surgery

What is open reduction with internal fixation?

Open reduction with internal fixation is a type of surgery to fix a broken (fractured) bone. The doctor makes a cut, called an incision, in the skin over the bone. The doctor then moves the pieces of bone back into the normal position. This is called open reduction. The doctor may use special screws, pins, plates, or rods to hold the bone in place while it heals. This is called internal fixation. These devices may stay in your child's body from now on. The doctor closes the incision with stitches. Your child will have a scar, but it will fade with time.

Your child may spend a few hours to a few days in the hospital. The length of the stay depends on how serious your child's injury is. It usually takes weeks to months for a broken bone to heal.

The doctor may give you specific instructions on when your child can do normal activities again, such as sports and going back to school or work. After the bone has healed, your child may need physiotherapy to make the area strong and flexible again.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Your child may need to shower or bathe with a special soap the night before and the morning of surgery. The soap contains chlorhexidine. It reduces the amount of bacteria on your child's skin that could cause an infection after surgery.
  • Talk to your child about the surgery. Tell your child that it will help the bone heal. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Do not shave the skin near the fractured bone for 2 or 3 days before surgery. This will reduce your child's risk of infection after surgery.
  • You and your child may talk with a child life specialist. This person can answer questions about your time in the hospital.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the surgery. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.

The day before surgery

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's surgery and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before surgery. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of the procedure, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow the doctor's instructions about when your child should bathe or shower before the procedure. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Have your child take off all jewellery and piercings.
  • Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make your child sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours. But it can take longer, depending on how serious the fracture is.
  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the surgery.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your child for surgery.
  • Your child becomes ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your child having the surgery.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.