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Orthopaedic Devices

Orthopaedic surgeons use a variety of methods to keep fracture fragments reduced. These range from plates and screws to the plaster of Paris. These methods of reduction can be broadly classified into 4 categories:

  1. Traction
  2. External splints
  3. External fixation
  4. Internal fixation


Traction involves the application of weights and pulleys to reduce a fracture. The traction should be strong enough to overcome the power of the muscles surrounding the fracture, as these cause the bony fragments to overide each other. It is important to remember that the forces causing traction must be counterbalanced and this can be done by different ways. Traction can be applied either by :

  • Skin - by adhesive strapping
  • Skeletal - by pins inserted into the bone. The Denham pin is commonly used.

Two main types of traction exist

  • Fixed - weight of the patient provides traction
  • Sliding - weight of the patient provides traction but is counterbalanced by attached weights.

Other special types of traction inlcude:

  • Thomas Splint traction - treatment of fractures of the femur
  • Buck's traction - treatment of hip fractures
  • Hamilton Russell Traction - treatment for fractures of the femur.

Figure 1 - Example of Traction

For further information about Traction, please Click Here

External Splints

These include splints, casts, slings and braces

  • Splint
    • A device which maintain a body part in a fixed position
    • Do not provide rigid fixation.
  • Slings
    • External support to an injured arm of shoulder
    • Many different types.
  • Cast
    • A cylindrical shaped device which firmly encloses and stabilises the fracture site
    • Made out of either plaster or fibre glass
    • Best known example is the Plaster of Paris.
  • Brace
    • A device which maintains a body part in a specific position
    • Different types available: wrist, elbow, spinal, knee etc.

For further information about the Plaster of Paris, please Click Here

External Fixation

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Describing a Fracture
Different types of Fractures
Fracture Complications
Fracture Principles
Open Fractures
Orthopaedic Devices
Pathological Fractures
Treatment of Fractures
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