IM rods, short for intramedullary rods, are fixation devices implanted in long bones to align and stabilize them after a fracture (break).
What is an IM rod?
IM rods are specially designed metal devices, often made of titanium, that are surgically inserted into the bone canal of long bones, such as the femur (thighbone) or tibia (shinbone), to provide support and stabilization. They are manufactured in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of most patients.
The device is inserted directly into the hollow bone canal, allowing it to work with the bone and provide the reinforcement needed to support movement and weight bearing.
The most common use of IM rods is for fractures that occur in the shaft of long bones. The device can also help realign the bone, in the case of displaced fractures.
The IM rod acts as an internal splint, offering support for the bone and making it possible to return to weight bearing activities much faster than if the bone were left to heal without internal fixation.
How are IM rods inserted?
IM rods are surgically implanted through an incision near the top of the bone, often at the hip or knee. The rod is passed through the incision and into the hollow shaft of the bone where bone marrow is stored.
Once the IM rod is in place and the bone is aligned, screws are inserted near the ends of the rod to maintain placement of both the bone and the rod until healing takes place.
Recovery after IM rod insertion
Immediately after surgery, pain medication will be administered for comfort. Within a few days, the pain should improve and you will be able to gradually decrease the pain medication.
You will likely be encouraged to move your leg soon after surgery, and your doctor will advise you when it is safe to begin walking. Mobility devices, such as a walker or crutches, may be needed until full weight bearing is resumed.
Physical therapy is an important part of recovery and can help to strengthen muscles and increase range of motion and flexibility.
Depending on the extent of the injury, fractures of the long bones can take up to 6 months to fully heal.