When Is Surgery Necessary for a Broken Bone?

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Sources such as the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, or AOFAS, and the Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopedic Surgery indicate that there are several different factors that can influence a doctor's decision to perform surgery on a broken bone, including healing time and the distance between broken bone parts. For example, in the case of a broken clavicle, or collarbone, Johns Hopkins indicates that surgery is rarely necessary and that the field of orthopedics has not reached a research-based consensus on exactly when surgery should be performed to fix a broken clavicle. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that tools such as metal screws and plates are commonly used in bone fracture repair surgery.

The AOFAS describes two different general categories of foot bone fracture, including a displaced fracture and a non-displaced fracture. In anon-displaced fracture, the broken bone's parts will stay relatively close together and do not generally require surgery. In a displaced fracture,bone fragments move away from each other, sometimes to such as extreme degree that surgery is necessary. According to the NIH, when surgery is required to fix a broken bone, doctors can opt to use either internal or external stabilization devices to keep the broken bones in place while they heal.