Elbow Fracture Fixation
Many elbow fractures will require surgery. Elbow fracture fixation is a medical procedure that is used to treat elbow fractures. The goal of elbow fracture fixation is to realign the broken bones and keep them in place while they heal.
Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is the surgical procedure used to treat displaced olecranon fractures. The olecranon is the bony prominence at the tip of the elbow, and a fracture to this area can cause significant pain and limit the mobility of the arm. ORIF is considered the gold standard for the treatment of displaced olecranon fractures. The goal of ORIF is to realign the broken bones and stabilize them with hardware such as plates, screws, or wires.
A displaced fracture is a type of bone fracture where the broken ends of the bone are out of alignment or have moved away from their normal position. This means that the two pieces of the broken bone are no longer touching or overlapping properly. Surgery is usually required for displaced fractures. When the fracture is open, surgery will be scheduled as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
During ORIF for olecranon fractures, the surgeon will first make an incision over the fracture to access the bone. The surgical area is cleaned out and the broken pieces of bone are then repositioned into their normal alignment using surgical instruments. Once in alignment, your LALL Orthopedics + surgeon will stabilize the fracture by using hardware such as plates, screws, or wires. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means that the patient will be asleep during the procedure.
In some cases, open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) may be combined with bone grafting to treat certain types of bone fractures, including those in the elbow. It is used when bone has been lost or crushed. In bone grafting the surgeon takes a piece of bone from another part of the body or from a donor and transplants it into site of the fracture. This can help to promote bone healing and fill in any gaps or defects in the bone caused by the fracture.
Recovery from elbow fracture fixation can take several weeks or months. During this time, pain will be managed using icing, elevation and non-prescription pain medication, and may include prescription pain medication for severe pain. Patients will need to wear a sling to support the arm and limit movement. There will be restrictions on the use of the arm including avoiding lifting heavy objects for up to six weeks. Physical therapy is recommended to help regain strength and mobility in the arm.
Potential complications for elbow fracture fixation are rare but may include infection, nerve damage and joint stiffness. It is important to follow all post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon to minimize the risk of complications.
In conclusion, ORIF is a surgical technique used to treat olecranon fractures. It is considered the gold standard for the treatment of displaced olecranon fractures, and it provides many benefits including early mobilization and low complication rates.
Dr. Ajay C. Lall is a former dual sport NCAA collegiate athlete (football and track & field), American board certified, triple fellowship-trained expert orthopedic surgeon who specializes in diagnosing and treating elbow injuries. He treats non-athletes and athletes at all levels of play from collegiate to professional to the Olympic level. Dr. Lall is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who cares for all patients like family. Contact LALL Orthopedics + to schedule a consultation, receive the correct diagnosis, and undergo state-of-the-art treatment options.
At a Glance
Ajay C. Lall, MD, MS, FAAOS
- Board Certified – Orthopedic Surgery
- Triple Fellowship Trained
- Performs over 750 Surgeries Per Year
- Learn more