Broken Ankle Screw and Plate Removal Surgery: Yes or No?
Broken Ankle Screw and Plate Removal: Is It a Good Idea?
I broke my ankle in 2007. I wrote an article about the experience, which you can find in my profile if you are interested. When I first broke my ankle, I asked the orthopedic surgeon if I needed to have the plate and screws removed. He said it was up to me. The physical therapist told me it was a good idea to have them removed because as you get older, they will cause pain and arthritis. I have been putting off making a decision because, let's face it—who wants to go through another surgery? I decided to do some research to help me make my decision. Read on to learn what I found out.
What I Learned
I read that, in some cases, when screws were left in the leg, one or two wormed their way out and started poking through the skin.
Some people leave in the hardware, then years later, the metal messes up the bones, causing problems.
Here is one story in which that happened: A friend broke his ankle and left the hardware there. Ten years after the injury, he decided to get it removed because it was causing him problems. Now, he is over 50 years old and can barely walk a mile. He said that the screws did eventually mess up his bones and wishes that he got it removed when he was younger.
I also read that leaving the hardware in actually weakens your bone because the screws break up the bone's mass. The bone can rely on them too much, potentially preventing the bone from growing as strong as it could. I've read this on different websites, so I don't know any of this for fact—just learning from others.
Then I read many stories of people who leave in the hardware and don't have pain or any problems. However, how long has it been? Will they stay problem free? This is what worries me. I don't want to wait and then have problems after the damage is done or when I am older and will have a harder time healing.
I think that if I had pain or irritation in the area of my plate and screws, I would have them removed. It would be an easy decision. I am not having any problems, so even though some sites recommend having them removed, it's very hard for me to make that decision. I do not feel like going through the pain of the surgery. However, most sites seem to recommend it. So I feel I should talk to a doctor about having them removed. What do you all think? I added a discussion module below so that hopefully I can get some help from others.
Should I Have My Plate and Screws Remove?
Here Are Some Sites I Found Helpful—Information and Opinions on Hardware Removal
- Screw Removal Surgery?
This site is great because it gives you the opinions of others who did have their plate and screws removed.
- My Broken Leg
This site lists some info and opinions on having hardware removed.
- Should I Have My Plate and Screws Removed?
This site is about a wrist fracture, but it was one of the sites I found to be helpful because it listed reasons to have the hardware removed.
- Younger Surgeon Who Had Taken over My Emergency Room Work
This is a very interesting conversation.