Hardware removal - extremity

Definition

Surgeons use hardware such as pins, plates, or screws to help fix a broken bone or to correct an abnormality in a bone. Most often, this involves bones of the legs, arms, or spine.

Later, if you have pain or other problems related to the hardware, you may have surgery to remove the hardware. This is called hardware removal surgery.

Description

For the procedure, you may be given medicine to numb the area (local anesthesia) while you are awake. Or you may be put to sleep so you do not feel anything during the surgery (general anesthesia).

Monitors will keep track of your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing during the surgery.

During the surgery, your surgeon may:

Depending on the reason for the surgery, you may have other procedures at the same time. Your surgeon may remove infected tissue if needed. If the bones have not healed, additional procedures may be done, such as a bone graft.    

Your surgeon will close the incision with stitches, staples, or special glue. It will be covered with a bandage to help prevent infection.

Why the Procedure is Performed

There are several reasons why hardware is removed:

Risks

Risks for any procedure that requires sedation are:

Risks for any type of surgery include:

Risks for hardware removal surgery are:

Before the Procedure

Before the surgery, you may have x-rays of the hardware. You also may need blood or urine tests.

Always tell your health care provider what medicines, supplements, or herbs you take.

After the Procedure

You should have someone drive you home after the surgery.

You will need to keep the area clean and dry. Your provider will give you instructions about wound care.

Ask your provider when it is safe to put weight on or use your limb. How long it takes to recover depends on whether you have had other procedures, such as a bone graft. Ask your provider how long it may take to heal so you can resume all your regular activities.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most people have less pain and better function after hardware removal.


Review Date: 8/15/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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