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Bones, much like the wooden framework of a house, define and contour the body’s shape while supporting and protecting the soft tissues and organs inside the body. Since these specialized collections of cells are arranged in a specific manner they create a rigid form that also allows for each part of the body to move separately and in conjunction with other sections of the body. When a bone injury occurs which interrupts the structure or stability, such as a fracture or break in its continuity, steps need to be taken to restore its unity. A fibula plate is a specialized metal support attached to the fibula, one of the long bones in the lower leg, when the integrity of the bone is severely compromised.
The fibula, also known as one of the calf bones, is located laterally, or on the outside of the lower leg. This long, thin bone hooks to the tibia bone and runs from just below the knee down to the ankle. The manner in which it attaches to the heavier adjacent tibia gives these two bones the appearance of a hook or safety pin. Though the tibia bears the weight of the body and is somewhat independent from the fibula, a fracture to this thicker bone can damage the fibula as well. The fibula does not bear weight, attaching a fibula plate gives this bone the extra support necessary to ensure proper healing.
If the bone is not “set” properly, disruptions to the bone’s stability can cause continual and possibly permanent pain and dysfunction. In many cases of a closed fracture, where the broken pieces of bone do not pierce through the skin, the application of a cast with weight bearing restrictions for several weeks allows for the bone to heal. With bones like the fibula that attach to a sturdier bone and do not weight bear, the surgical insertion a fibula plate aids in maintaining the bone’s position while fastening the broken ends together to improve the chances of normal healing.
The placement of a fibula plate is dependent upon the location and severity of the fracture. In other words, the entire fibula or only sections may be involved in the plating technique. The thin strip of metal used for a fibula plate is laid parallel to the bone and screwed into place directly into the bone. A cast is then applied to the outside of the leg for several weeks to ensure that the leg remains immobile. In many instances a fibula plate remains hooked to the bone even after full healing has occurred.
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