Surgery is necessary for a compound distal radius fracture because it breaks the skin, according to OrthoInfo. Surgery must be take place within eight hours of the break. A compound fracture is also known as an open fracture, according to MedicineNet.
Even before a doctor deals with the bone fragments, he must clean the open wound of a compound wrist fracture, says OrthoInfo. The doctor also prescribes antibiotics to keep the wound from becoming infected.
After that, the surgeon applies either internal or external fixators, which stabilize the bone fragments and hold them in the right position for proper healing, explains OrthoInfo. The surgeon may use an external fixator if the tissue is severely injured. An external fixator is made of a metal frame that remains outside the body, says Mayo Clinic. At least two pins pass through the patient's skin and into the bones on both sides of the fracture to hold the fracture steady.
After a few days, the surgeon may remove the external fixator and replace it with plates or screws to stabilize the fracture, claims OrthoInfo. Doctors also use rods and bone grafts to treat a compound broken wrist, states Mayo Clinic. It takes about a year to recover from a broken wrist, notes OrthoInfo.