Fracture Repairs: Pinning, Plating & Internal or External Fixation
To repair a fracture, the ends of the bone must be brought together and the continuity of the bone restored as close to normal
as possible. This can be done with a closed technique—that is without exposing the bones—using traction and manipulation, trying not to disturb the natural healing processes already underway. Or, it can be done as an open technique, surgically exposing the bones by separating and, if necessary, cutting through muscle to visualize the fracture and to put it back together. The fracture must be immobilized to allow it to heal and this can be done in several ways.
External fixation describes the use of pins passed from outside the leg, through the skin and into the bones of the limb, ideally with at least three pins above and below the fracture. These pins can then connect to one another either by bars, or rods or cement or rings. External fixators can be applied open or closed, and combined with many other techniques making them extremely versatile.
Internal fixation describes the use of pins and wire, plate and screws. Plates and screws can be used for a variety of different fragments, but offer exceptionally stable fixation and in some cases the ability to squeeze or compress the ends of the bone fragments together. Such repairs can ensure an animal can be up and using a fractured limb as soon as possible.