Fracture fixation – Plating
This is a commonly performed orthopaedic surgery for broken bones. The tools and techniques to perform plating have improved significantly over the years and almost any fracture now can be successfully plated. The procedure can be done by open surgery (exposing the fracture) or minimally invasive techniques (visualizing the fracture through X-ray image). The aim is to realign the injured bone and protect it from stresses of day to day activities enabling early return to function. Implants are made of either stainless steel or titanium. The material does not matter as the implant is redundant once the bone unites and can be removed at a later elective date.
Quick Facts about Plating
Duration of Surgery
90 to 180 minutes depending on the complexity of the injury.
General anesthesia or Regional (preferred). This should be discussed with your anesthetist and your choice is final.
Length of hospital stay
Variable. From day care procedure in small bone to 4-5 days in simple isolated injuries of long bones.
Early mobilization of the injured limb is encouraged. Apart from the broken bone the surrounding muscles too are injured. Ice packs applied locally ease the discomfort and enable movement of the adjoining joints. As bone union progresses function improves. Your doctor will map your recovery process according to the pattern of injury and the fracture fixation achieved.
The surgical incision length may vary according to the fracture location and pattern. Usually the scar heals well but at times an ugly wound may result.
Serious complications are rare. Surgery involves the use of a metal plate and this is associated with risk of infection of about 1% (one case out of hundred). Bleeding occurs during surgery and if excessive may require blood transfusion. Delayed union or non-union may occur and bone grafting may be recommended by your doctor during follow-up.