ZocdocAnswersShould an 80-year-old with a broken bone opt for a cast or surgery?

Question

Should an 80-year-old with a broken bone opt for a cast or surgery?

My family is facing problem to taking decision about my Grandmother’s treatment. I Need help from you. Yesterday (20-11-2012) my grandmother (age 80+ years) just slipped from wheelchair and resultantly her right leg’s bone braked right after from the joint of knee. Fracture is broadly seen on X-ray in curve shape and there is gap between broken bones. Now doctor gave us two options: 1) Surgery including iron plates 2) Plaster of leg from knee to ankle Now we are confused because her age is 80+ and she is quite weak, is she bear the surgery treatment or not on the other hand plaster is a time taking method for recovery. Please help us and guide us which option is better for her. We are unable to take decision. You are expert of this field you can guide us correctly.

Answer

I'm sorry to hear that your grandmother had this accident. Fortunately, she did not damage more than her right leg! This is a very difficult decision, and I cannot help you make it, because there are many additional factors that need to be considered which are not in your question. I would suggest talking with your grandmother's orthopedic doctors to see what their opinion is and also talking with her primary care doctor. Surgery will result in a better and quicker fix of the fracture. However, it is also associated with all the risks of a surgery including, in someone who is elderly, the risks of a cardiac event during the surgery. However, the risk of a surgery complication depends on your grandmother's overall health and other medical problems. If she is healthy, then this risk might be fairly low, which could move you to consider surgery more strongly. On the other hand, if your grandmother has multiple complex medical problems that are not well controlled, or if she has limited exercise ability at her baseline, then these might be factors that would push you towards just a cast on the fractured leg. Please talk to her doctors for more guidance.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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