What are the complications of ORIF ankle surgery?

ORIF stands for open reduction and internal fixation which is a variety of open orthopedic surgical methods in which broken bones in the ankle are repaired utilizing different devices in order to restore them to their normal position and alignment. The devices that are utilized include metallic pins, screws and plates. Always bear in mind that open reduction and internal fixation can also cause complications due to the use of the fixation devices and from the injury as well.


The infection of the surgical wound is considered as the most common complication of any surgery. Take note that it becomes risky once the infection occurs within the bones. By enrolling in a first aid course, you will learn how to check if infection is developing.

There are microorganisms that colonize the fixation devices such as the screws, pins and plates. This is combined with the formation of the membranous bio-film that can resist the penetration of antibiotics in order to create a scenario in which treating the infection is difficult.

Once these microorganism invade the bone through the channels created by the screw and pin holes, it results to an infection called as osteomyelitis. This is considered disastrous and the healing process is an extensive one due to the formation of abscess and destruction of the tissues and bones.

ORIF ankle surgery

Once a fractured ankle involves the joint surfaces, there is a risk of developing degenerative arthritis.

Failure to heal and non-union

An open reduction and internal fixation procedure on the ankle has a risk of developing a condition called as non-union. It is important to note that non-union develops once the opposing perimeters of a fracture fail to heal. This usually occurs due to situations in which the edges of the fracture fragments are too far part in order to properly heal or there is excessive micro-motion at the site of fixation to prevent solid healing. The disruption in the supply of blood can cause the edges of the bone not to heal or develop a soft stringy connection instead of a solid bone connection.

Sore retained hardware

Another complication of surgery for an ankle fracture is sore retained hardware. Take note that there is minimal subcutaneous fat amidst the skin and different bony protrusion of the ankle, thus fixation devices such as the plates and screws inserted become uncomfortable. This occurs since they protrude under the skin and become sensitive pressure points.

One of the common areas for this issue is along the lateral or exterior part of the ankle known as the lateral malleolus which is comprised of the distal or end part of the fibula. Take note that fixation devices can easily bulge beneath the skin and can rub against footwear, thus resulting to pain.

The fixation removal is simply for pain relief but not a guarantee to eliminate it. Only some individuals experienced relief. With this in mind careful consideration is a must regarding the expected outcomes before undergoing the removal procedure.

Post traumatic arthritis

Once a fractured ankle involves the joint surfaces, there is a risk of developing degenerative arthritis. Post traumatic arthritis is considered as the most common type of arthritis that affects the ankle.

Post traumatic arthritis typically develops once the generally smooth surfaces of the joint ends up injured and lopsided. When managing a fractured ankle that has a disrupted joint surface, it is vital that these surfaces are restored to normal as possible in order to minimize the development of arthritis.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Please complete this captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.