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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    694

    Screws/plate in wrist: leave in or take out?

    So I got several screws and a plate put in my wrist (radius) last fall. I was told by the Doc that 80% of people get these taken out. I honestly forgot the negatives of leaving the stuff in. I would also like to save $2500 by not taking them out. I have pain here and there that is probably liked to the metal in my wrist which (probably) would be alleviated if I were to get this stuff out, but the pain is more of an annoyance than anything. So, looking for opinions/experience with leaving this stuff in or taking it out. FWIW, I have a PPO insurance plan now and will be switching to a consumer based healthcare plan August 1st. I would have to put out approximately $2500 for the surgery before Aug. then am not sure with the CBHP, don't really understand how surgeries are treated with the new plan.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    8,575
    I had 3 screws in an ankle which never really bothered me BUT when I broke my tib/fib the screws were in the way SO instead of doing a rod they did a plate cuz they were worried about hitting the screws ,after 6 months I had EVERYTHING taken out including the 2 of the 3 screws from the 1st operation BUT the last screw was TOO stubborn to come out

    so besides the ghost pains from leaving hardware in the body it can get in the way of the next operation SO I would get the HW taken out ASAP

    we got universal HC up here so I can't help you on that

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Ridin' 3 Sisters
    Posts
    3,966
    Quote Originally Posted by SLSki View Post
    So I got several screws and a plate put in my wrist (radius) last fall. I was told by the Doc that 80% of people get these taken out. I honestly forgot the negatives of leaving the stuff in. I would also like to save $2500 by not taking them out.
    You may want a 2nd opinion. I had my 6 week post-surgery checkup this week - plate and 8 screws. holding radius together. I asked my Doc how often they take the metal back out. Answer: "Almost never - maybe twice over the course of several hundred". He said that unless the metal is in the way of another procedure, they will leave it in. Said risk of infection, time for holes to ossify, more rehab

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    230
    What side of your wrist is your incision on (palm side or back side)? Most distal radius fractures are fixed through a palmar incision and the plates/screws are hardly ever taken out. If it's on the dorsal (back side) of the wrist, perhaps your MD is worried about tendon irritation, etc, and late rupture. Echo'ing the collective wisdom of the group, most wrist hardware stays in unless there's a specific reason, so I would just ask your MD why he/she routinely takes it out. As far as the aching, there is never a guarantee that removing hardware will make this better because previously broken joints often ache periodically just from the injury.
    Originally Posted by jm2e:
    To be a JONG is no curse in these unfortunate times. 'Tis better that than to be alone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    401
    I debated having the plate and screws removed after the first fracture as well. At that time I had 7 screws of which one was diagonal through the fracture. That one irritated the h#$# out of me when rock climbing. Not from the movement but the head of the screw protruded and irritated the surrounding muscle tissue. The doc and I discussed having it removed but decided to wait until after the summer bike and run season was over. And the 3 weeks of recovery would be a good transition into early ski season... or so I thought until I broke my right radius again. But this time I broke it in a different place. Result... I did have the old hardware removed which was all bent up. In its place is a longer plate... about 6" in length with more screws. Here is a view of the old 4" plate that was removed:



    So do I think removing the hardware would have made a difference... not so much. Did it hurt when I broke it again? Not really. It probably kept things from moving around as much as they did the first time when I dislocated the radius in addition to the distal fracture. Made for a cool story too. Broke arm while, sit on the side of the road at a convenience station with a bag of ice on my arm and ice cream in my hand while I waited for a friend to pick me up in his truck to go to the ER.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    On the road again
    Posts
    928
    I had a plate and screws in my wrist for a radius fracture as well. It ached pretty badly, I think the doc recommended taking them out even before that though. I had them removed, no issues since. YMMV.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Powers
    That's how the plague started back in the day...from a little disgusting bird bath in someones back yard that rats made sex to birds in and created a whole new type of AIDS

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Whistler
    Posts
    498
    I have had a plate and 8 screws in my radius for a bit over a year now, my doc said they almost never come out. No pain or discomfort and I have pretty small wrists too, only a slight stiffness from some scar tissue occasionally, it feels solid on my mtb so im not worried about it

    however, I just got a IM rod down my tibia around a month ago TR coming shortly and I will most likely get the wrist plate taken out in a year when the rod comes out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    NOYFB
    Posts
    487
    I have had a plate and 8 screws in my radius and ulna for over 10 years now. No real problems, but definitely hurts to fall on skateboarding or biking more than the metal-free arm.

    I would probably go ahead and get them taken out if it were only 2500 to do so though. Been quoted a lot more than that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Pyongyang
    Posts
    649
    Got a plate and screws in my wrist from d/r fracture playing baseball about 5 yrs ago. It used to bother me up to a year or so later, but now it does not bother me one bit. In fact I fell on it pretty hard mtb'ing early this summer and I actually think that I would have broken it again if the plate was not still in there--so I look at it as reinforcement. Unless an x-ray shows the screws backing out, you can always get it taken out down the road. So...just give it more time. As others have said, I would prefer not to get cut open again. My 0.02.

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