Hardware Removal

Hardware removal is a procedure that removes medical devices used to repair broken bones. Hardware may be pins, screws, rods, wires, plates, or other implants. Some types of hardware are meant to stay in place permanently. Other types of hardware may be removed after the broken bone has healed. Sometimes, hardware is removed because it causes problems. These problems include infection, ongoing pain, or failure of the device. In certain cases, older types of hardware may be replaced with newer, better materials. Young children often need to have hardware removed in order to allow for proper bone growth.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Infection.

  • Bleeding.

  • Pain.

  • Bone breaking again (refracture).

  • Failure to completely remove all implants.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • You may be asked to stop taking blood thinners, aspirin, and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen) before the procedure.

  • You will usually be asked to stop eating and drinking at least 6 hours before the procedure.

  • If your procedure is done so that you go home the same day (outpatient), you will need someone to drive you home.

PROCEDURE

  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.

  • You will lie on an exam table. A variety of monitors will be connected to you in order to track your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing throughout the procedure.

  • You will have an intravenous (IV) access placed in your vein.

  • You may be given general anesthesia to help you sleep through the procedure or a sedative to relax you. You will also be given a local or regional anesthetic to numb the area.

  • X-rays may be taken to accurately find the hardware.

  • The surgeon will make a cut (incision) over the area where the hardware is located.

  • The hardware will be carefully removed.

  • The incision will be closed with stitches (sutures), staples, or special glue. A bandage will be placed over the area to keep it clean and dry.

  • Often splints, casts, or removable walking boots are used to protect your limb while your wound heals.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You may be sleepy.

  • You may have some pain or feel sick to your stomach (nauseous). This can usually be controlled with medicines.

  • You will stay in the recovery room until you are awake and able to drink fluids.

  • Check with your caregiver about when you can return to your usual level of activity or whether you will need physical therapy or rehabilitation.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take all medicines exactly as directed.

  • Follow any prescribed diet.

  • Follow instructions regarding both rest and physical activity. Be sure you understand when it is okay to bear weight.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have severe or lasting pain.

  • You or your child has an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Chills develop.

  • The incision area appears red, hot, puffy (swollen), or covered with pus.

  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You cannot pass gas.

  • You are unable to have a bowel movement within 2 days.

  • You have persistent numbness in the limb beyond 24 hours.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.