Removal of Internal Hardware or External Fixation

After the bones and ligaments from your surgery have healed you may require hardware removal. External fixators (pins and bars outside the skin) are routinely removed. This can be done in the office or with mild sedation (twilight sleep) in an operating room. Screws can be removed once healing is documented. Internal hardware removal is usually performed because of negative symptoms from the metal. Some people can feel the screws or plates beneath their skin. In rare cases, this surgery is performed to remove screws across a joint that was spanned for temporary stabilization. The metal serves no purpose once your body is done healing. Non-absorbable stitches can be removed too, but only if they cause symptoms.

Pre-Operative Care

The surgical center will inform you when to arrive and how to prepare for surgery. You will be given antibiotics just before surgery to help prevent infection. During surgery you will undergo a light anesthesia. Incisions are made directly over the hardware to remove the plates, screws, and wires. Usually, we are able to utilize the previous scars, but sometimes a separate incision is required. Numbing medication is injected around the wounds so that you will not have pain for several hours after surgery.

Immediate Post-Operative Care

Once your anesthesiologist is satisfied that have recovered you will be permitted to leave the surgical center. During this recovery time your family member may take your prescription to the nearest pharmacy. You will be in a sterile protective dressing. You will also be given crutches. Take your narcotic pain control medications before falling asleep or as you feel the “numbing” effect wearing off. Remember, post-operative pain is much easier to control with prevention.

Expected Post-Operative Course

Keep your operative leg elevated for the first 2-3 days after surgery. Keep the area clean and dry while the skin heals, and change your dressing each day after the third day. Bear weight according to your particular instructions on the hospital discharge form.

Your first post-operative visit is 2-3 weeks after surgery. Your stitches will be gently removed. Pain will be minimal and treated with extra-strength Tylenol. Please keep them dry. Work and driving restrictions are rare and will vary depending on your particular case. Unless we are treating other problems, this will be your last visit.

To schedule surgery, please contact my surgery scheduler at or 952-224-8500. Please do this at least four weeks in advance to best ensure your desired surgery date. If you have questions after surgery, please contact my office and ask for my medical assistant.

Visit our video center to watch rehab exercise videos that will help you recover after your surgery.