Explain the difference between an internal/external fixation device

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dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Internal and external fixation devices are orthopedic devices used to stabilize a fractured bone (usually a long bone). When a bone is fractured it must be immobilized to heal correctly. Immobilization is commonly achieved by casting the extremity (applying a cast).

More complicated fractures may require surgical procedures to achieve the needed immobilization. Internal fixation devices are used internally (under the skin) to repair and approximate the bone. These devices are usually left in place after the bone has healed.

External fixation devices are used for the same reasons but they protrude through the epidermis and are visible. Commonly, EFD's need periodic adjustments by the orthopedic physician. After the bone has healed, the EFD is surgically removed.