Removing Metalwork

 > Orthopaedics

 > Removing Metalwork

What is metalwork used for?

Metalwork includes plates, screws, rods and wires. These are specially made from stainless steel or titanium for the following operations on bones.

  • Fixing a broken bone in position while it heals
  • Joining bones to remove an arthritic joint
  • Changing the shape of a bone

What are the benefits of surgery?

The following are the main reasons for having your metalwork removed.

  • To reduce any pain or discomfort
  • To help treat an infection around the metalwork
  • To prevent the metalwork from disappearing inside the bone
  • To prevent the metalwork from getting in the way if you need another operation later

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Pain or discomfort from your metalwork can sometimes be helped by taking painkillers, avoiding pressure over the metalwork and keeping warm when the weather is cold.

If you have an infection around the metalwork, you can sometimes keep it under control by taking antibiotics.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

The operation usually takes 30 minutes to an hour.

Your surgeon will usually remove the metalwork through the same cut used to put it in. Small screws or wires can sometimes be hard to find and your surgeon may need to use a larger cut and x-rays. Even larger pieces of metalwork can be hard to find and remove if they are covered with scar tissue or bone.

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after.

Spend most of the time during the first week with your arm or leg raised so that the swelling settles.

You may be given exercises to help get your joints moving.

Your surgeon will tell you when you can return to normal activities.

It can take 6 months or longer to recover completely from surgery.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • Failure to remove all metalwork
  • Damage to nerves nearby
  • Weakening of the bone
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your arm or leg
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice your healthcare team gives you. This information is published under license from EIDO Healthcare UK and is protected by copyright. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print, download or otherwise reproduce it.

Metalwork is often used in operations to help bones to heal. Once your bones have healed, your surgeon may recommend removing the metalwork to reduce or prevent any problems it may cause.

What to do next
  1. Talk to us about ways to pay, either insured or self-pay, and find out if you need a referral from your doctor.
  2. If you need one, ask your doctor for a referral letter.
  3. Call us to book an appointment with a consultant.
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