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ORIF for Finger Fractures: Best Practices

When it comes to finger fractures, one of the most common treatment options is open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). This surgical procedure involves realigning the fractured bones and securing them in place with the help of screws, plates, or wires. ORIF for finger fractures has been widely used and has shown promising results in terms of fracture healing and functional outcomes. However, like any surgical procedure, there are certain best practices that need to be followed to ensure optimal outcomes for patients. In this article, we will explore the best practices for ORIF in finger fractures, backed by research and expert opinions.

1. Patient Selection

Before proceeding with ORIF for finger fractures, it is crucial to carefully evaluate and select the appropriate patients. Not all finger fractures require surgical intervention, and conservative treatment options may be sufficient in certain cases. Patient selection should be based on various factors, including:

  • The type and location of the fracture
  • The degree of displacement
  • The patient’s age and overall health
  • The patient’s occupation and hand dominance

For example, fractures that involve joint surfaces or have significant displacement are more likely to benefit from surgical intervention. On the other hand, non-displaced fractures or those with minimal functional impact may be managed conservatively with splinting or casting.

Research studies have shown that appropriate patient selection is crucial for the success of ORIF in finger fractures. A study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery found that patients with displaced intra-articular fractures who underwent ORIF had better functional outcomes compared to those treated conservatively.

2. Preoperative Planning

Preoperative planning plays a vital role in the success of ORIF for finger fractures. It involves a thorough assessment of the fracture, understanding the anatomy of the finger, and planning the surgical approach. Key aspects of preoperative planning include:

  • Imaging: X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be used to evaluate the fracture pattern, degree of displacement, and involvement of joint surfaces.
  • Anatomy: Understanding the anatomy of the finger, including the bony landmarks, tendons, and neurovascular structures, is essential for accurate reduction and fixation.
  • Surgical approach: Depending on the fracture location and complexity, different surgical approaches may be used, such as dorsal, volar, or lateral approaches.
  • Implant selection: Choosing the appropriate implants, such as screws, plates, or wires, based on the fracture pattern and stability requirements.

Preoperative planning helps the surgeon anticipate potential challenges and ensures a more precise and efficient surgical procedure. It also allows for better communication with the patient regarding the expected outcomes and postoperative rehabilitation.

3. Surgical Technique

The surgical technique used for ORIF in finger fractures can vary depending on the specific fracture pattern and surgeon preference. However, there are certain general principles and best practices that should be followed:

  • Anesthesia: Adequate anesthesia, such as regional nerve blocks or general anesthesia, should be administered to ensure patient comfort during the procedure.
  • Fracture reduction: The fractured bones should be carefully realigned and reduced to restore normal anatomy and joint congruity. This may involve the use of traction, manipulation, or indirect reduction techniques.
  • Implant placement: The choice and placement of implants should provide stable fixation while minimizing soft tissue irritation. Proper screw length, diameter, and orientation are crucial for optimal results.
  • Wound closure: The surgical incision should be closed meticulously to promote healing and minimize the risk of infection. Subcutaneous and skin closure techniques should be chosen based on the wound characteristics.

Research studies have highlighted the importance of surgical technique in achieving successful outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery compared different surgical techniques for ORIF in finger fractures and found that the use of mini-fragment screws resulted in better fracture stability and functional outcomes.

4. Postoperative Care and Rehabilitation

Postoperative care and rehabilitation play a crucial role in the overall success of ORIF for finger fractures. The goals of postoperative care include:

  • Pain management: Adequate pain control measures, such as oral medications or regional nerve blocks, should be implemented to ensure patient comfort.
  • Wound care: Proper wound care techniques, including dressing changes and monitoring for signs of infection, are essential for optimal healing.
  • Immobilization: Depending on the fracture stability and surgeon preference, the finger may be immobilized with a splint or cast for a specific duration to promote fracture healing.
  • Early mobilization: Gradual initiation of finger motion exercises and hand therapy under the guidance of a hand therapist can help prevent stiffness and promote functional recovery.

Research studies have shown that early mobilization and hand therapy after ORIF for finger fractures can lead to improved range of motion, grip strength, and overall functional outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma found that early motion exercises resulted in better functional outcomes compared to prolonged immobilization.

5. Complications and Follow-up

While ORIF for finger fractures is generally considered a safe and effective procedure, there can be certain complications that need to be addressed. Common complications include:

  • Infection: Proper wound care and prophylactic antibiotics can help minimize the risk of infection. However, if an infection occurs, prompt treatment with antibiotics and possible surgical debridement may be necessary.
  • Hardware-related issues: Implant loosening, irritation, or prominence can occur in some cases. If these issues cause significant discomfort or functional impairment, implant removal may be considered.
  • Stiffness and joint contracture: Despite appropriate rehabilitation, some patients may experience stiffness or limited range of motion in the finger joints. Additional therapy or surgical intervention may be required to address these issues.

Regular follow-up visits with the surgeon are essential to monitor the progress of fracture healing, assess functional outcomes, and address any complications that may arise. Follow-up imaging, such as X-rays, may be performed to evaluate fracture union and implant position.


ORIF for finger fractures is a commonly performed surgical procedure that can lead to successful fracture healing and functional recovery. By following the best practices discussed in this article, including appropriate patient selection, preoperative planning, meticulous surgical technique, postoperative care, and regular follow-up, surgeons can optimize outcomes for their patients. It is important to remember that each case is unique, and individualized treatment plans should be developed based on the specific fracture characteristics and patient factors. With proper adherence to best practices, ORIF can provide excellent results and help patients regain full function of their fingers.

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