What Are the Surgical Options to Address Fractures?

Not all fractures can be allowed to heal on their own.  If non-surgical treatments are not a viable option for recovery, then surgical treatment must be considered.

The goals of surgical treatment for fractures are to reposition the broken pieces of the bone to their normal alignment, and then to stabilize them so they heal in the appropriate position. There are various different specialized implants, typically made of stainless steel or titanium, which can be used for internal fixation of such fractures:

  • Plates: Attached to the bone with screws, these hold the fractured pieces together.  These may be removed or left in place after healing is complete.

  • Screws: These come in a variety of sizes and can be used alone, or in conjunction with plates, rods, or nails.  They may be removed or left in place after healing is complete.

  • Rods: These implants may be inserted in the center of the bone, and secured with screws at either end. These are often the best option for longer bones that have fractured. These may be left in the bone after healing is complete.

  • Wires: These implants are often used to hold together pieces of bone that are too small to be treated with screws. They may be used alone, or combined with other plates. These are typically removed after healing is complete.

In rare cases, an external fixator may also be used to stabilize the broken bones for a short period of time.

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