Removal of metalwork

Removal of metalwork

Removal of metalwork from the body after the fracture has healed is one of the most commonly performed operations. There is however disagreement within the medical profession whether this is necessary in many circumstances.

Clear undisputed reasons for removing metalwork from patients include:

  • Infection
  • Metal allergy
  • When the skin or soft tissue integrity is threatened because of the metalwork
  • Broken plates and screws that fail to hold the bone in place while it heals

More uncertain reasons for removing metalwork include:

  • The patient ´s wish to remove the metalwork with no negative symptoms
  • The intention to improve function in the operated limb
  • Pain sensation
  • Foreign body sensation

Many surgeons feel that the removal of metalwork itself is more of a risk than leaving it in place and are therefore hesitant to recommend it. The complications to removing metalwork include:

  • Infection
  • Inadequate wound healing
  • Nerve damage
  • Incomplete removal of the metalwork (eg: broken screws)
  • Repeat fracture
  • Bleeding after the operation

Another significant but unspoken reason for avoiding the routine removal of metalwork following fracture surgery is the cost to society:

  • It burdens the hospital’s operation theatre resources despite uncertain benefits
  • It is costly for the healthcare services
  • It entrails a new period of absence from work for the patiens

For further information and a detailed discussion with a specialist book an appointment here.

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