External Fixation - Fractures and Broken Bones

ex fix
An external fixator applied to the leg of a patient after an ankle trauma injury. Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

External fixation is a method of immobilizing bones to allow a fracture to heal. External fixation is accomplished by placing pins or screws into the bone on both sides of the fracture. The pins are then secured together outside the skin with clamps and rods. The clamps and rods are known as the "external frame."

Some of the advantages of external fixation are that it is quickly and easily applied.

The risk of infection at the site of the fracture is minimal, but there is a risk of infection where the pins are inserted from the skin into the bone.

External fixators are often used in severe traumatic injuries as they allow for rapid stabilization, but the soft-tissues are still visible and accessible.  If a cast is applied, the soft-tissues are covered by the cast, making caring for the patient more challenging.  An external fixator can allow accessibility which is particularly important when there is significant damage to skin, muscle, nerves, or blood vessels.

Also Known As: External Fixator, External Frame

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