Orthopedic Surgery

Fracture Care

Emergency and surgical care for fractures is available around the clock. Your fracture may be treated by a general orthopedic surgeon or by one specializing in treating hands, shoulders, knees or other parts of the musculoskeletal system. Severe, complex fractures or fractures in patients with multiple injuries may be seen by one of our orthopedic traumatologists.

Treating Hip Fracture

A hip fracture is a fracture in the end of the femur (thigh bone), near the hip joint. Hip fractures are not uncommon among adults over the age of 65. Prompt treatment can help you have the best outcome.

Treatment of hip fractures depends, in part, on the type of fracture. Your doctor will order imaging studies (radiology) to determine the exact location of the break and whether pieces of bone have moved out of place.

  • You will probably need surgery to fix your hip. Fortunately, surgery to repair a hip fracture is usually very effective. The goal of surgery is to fix the bone and help you regain movement as soon as possible. Faster recovery decreases the risk of complications (such as blood clots and pneumonia) that can accompany hip fractures.
  • Surgery is not always necessary. The fracture may be allowed to heal on its own. Your care will focus on controlling your pain and protecting your fractured hip while a physical therapist helps you maintain movement to speed up recovery.

In the hospital, the orthopedics team will help you understand your condition and treatment options when you are admitted. They will also help arrange your follow-up care and will provide detailed instructions as you prepare to leave the hospital.

Fracture Surgery

  • Closed Reduction of the fracture means reducing the fracture fragments into an acceptable anatomical position. After reduction has been achieved by manipulation and maneuvers, the alignment is generally maintained by plaster cast.
  • Open Reduction means the fracture fragments are surgically opened, accessed and reduced. This opens the fracture hematoma and therefore the term "open" is used for this kind of reduction.
  • Internal Fixation is a type of fracture treatment where the fragments are fixed by a gadget that is buried beneath the soft tissues and is not visible externally. Plating is a type of internal fixation.

Leg Fractures

Thigh or shin rodding
is a surgical procedure to place a metal rod down the center of the fracture to hold the alignment of the bone. Tibial rodding provides excellent fixation and alignment of the bones.

Rods are secured within the bone by screws both above and below the fracture. The metal screws and the rod can be removed if they cause problems, but can also be left in place for life.

Pelvic Fractures

Pelvic fractures that result from high-energy trauma are often life-threatening injuries because of the extensive bleeding. In these cases, doctors may use an external fixator to stabilize the pelvic area. This device has long screws that are inserted into the bones on each side and connected to a frame outside the body. The external fixator allows surgeons to address the internal injuries to organs, blood vessels and nerves.

What happens next depends on the type of fracture and the patient's condition. Each case must be assessed individually, particularly with unstable fractures. Some pelvic fractures may require traction. In other cases, an external fixator may be sufficient. Unstable fractures may require surgical insertion of plates or screws.

Preventing Fractures

Adults over age 50 are particularly vulnerable to fractures from falls. Take steps now to improve your bone health, especially if you’ve already had a fracture. Talk to your doctor about:

  • Increasing your intake of calcium
  • Increasing your intake of Vitamin D
  • Getting enough of the right kinds of exercise
  • Preventing falls
  • Stopping smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake

The numbers and awards speak for themselves


2010-2011 Surgery Quality Report

Surgeons perform more than 680 hip procedures each year at Sacred Heart.