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Old 28.10.2008, 20:18
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Removing pins after a broken leg

My teenage son & I had an appointment last week at the local hospital to check that all was OK with his leg which he'd broken badly in a skateboard accident in Autumn 2007.
Once the X-rays had been done, we saw the doctor, who said everything seemed fine, but he then asked us if we wanted to have the 4 pins (vis in french) removed or not ! Impossible to have his opinion on the subject (it would seem opinions are divided amongst the specialists): it's up to us to decide !!! He would not commit himself as to what the potential problems will be if they were left or removed.
If we do decide to have it done, he would not have to stay overnight and would not need a general anaesthetic.

Does anyone have any experience on the subject (here or elsewhere, it's not a question specific to Switzerland) ?
I've no idea whether it's best to leave well alone or have them removed.
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:20
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Do it. I assume they're near the ankle in the tibia?

I had a plate and 8 screws on the tib for 2 years. Day one after they were removed was beautiful.

Removal would be much easier and less traumatic than the insertion
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:22
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

The best person on here to answer that is Lob he had alot of metal removed from his leg. Paging Lob
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:24
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Lob you are a fast typer thanks i knew you would come to the rescue
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:25
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Remove the pins. If there are any problems down the road, it could be more complicated to remove them.
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:26
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

I agree, good luck then!
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Old 28.10.2008, 20:39
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Hi WendyD,

I've been living happily with two pins for five years following a foot op, and wouldn't consider having them removed. The surgeon told me he chose this type (titanium) because they were "for life". But in my case the pins are small and the surgery was corrective, not due to an accident.

Any chance your son's doctor could give you more info about the material and whether there are potential side-effects? Seems a little stingy not to give you more of a basis to make your decision...

Beautiful kitty, by the way!
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Old 28.10.2008, 21:00
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

I too had a very bad accident as a teenager and had to have my ankle "rebuilt" including a 6" pin and over 20 assorted screws and bolts (kept them in a bag for years to show off at parties!).

A year after the surgery to put them in I was called back to have them removed. As it turned out the bone had actually reformed around 2 of the screws and they were unable to remove them.

I have had them with me for some 20 years now with no significant problems.

I guess the choice is up to your son, if they are not causing him pain and the doctors do not believe they affect future growth or interfere with muscle use then keep them. Otherwise, although it is a nuisance it is so much less painful to have them removed.

Good luck in whatever you decide
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Old 28.10.2008, 21:02
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Hi, i'm a nurse working in a mountain hospital, so we get a lot of broken bones! Most patients decide to get the metal removed, it is a small operation and patients rarely have any discomfort after the Operation. but every anasthesia has slight risks. i think it would be easier to get them removed now, then in a couple of years if he has any problems. They are a foreigen body in the body, (sorry, that sounds really weird) and could always cause problems, but there are patients that decide to leave them in, but most say they can always feel the metal in their foot.
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Old 28.10.2008, 21:35
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

I say get them out!

I had 5 pins and a plate removed from my fibia 2 weeks ago (15 months after the initial op). It involved a 2 night stay in hospital (though the first night was pre-op which I thought pretty pointless, and expensive for the insurance company too!).

For anaesthetic I had a spinal block/epidural, though there was also the option of general anaesthetic. The recovery is supposedly quicker and less painful with a spinal or local anaesthetic than from a general. They give you a sedative to relax you, so you're not too aware of all the gorey goings on during the op.

I could walk carefully with crutches the day after op but only needed them for a couple of days... 2 weeks later still a little sore on the wound, but walking pretty much normally, and already feeling more comfortable minus the metalwork. Just have to take it easy for a month or so with regard to sports etc, to give the bone time to strengthen and heal.

Though the doctors told me the pins could stay in forever if I so chose, I made the decision to have them removed because it was often uncomfortable, being directly under the skin on my ankle and lower leg, especially when wearing boots of any kind, or running or hiking, for example. I was also advised to have it removed by someone else who had had a similar op, but then left it too late to have the metal removed and now painfully regretted it - apparently left too long the bone can start to grow around the metal plate, or so I was told. On the other hand, the doctor warned me that there was a higher chance of the bone rebreaking if I did have the pins removed, but I decided for me the benefit outweighed the risk.

That's just my personal experience, and at the end of the day it all depends how your son (and you) feel about it, but I hope it's helpful to you both in making your decision!
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Old 29.10.2008, 08:39
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Quote:
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Do it. I assume they're near the ankle in the tibia?
Yes that's right, so it would seem to be a similar experience to Lob's.

Thank you all so much for your replies - the general opinion seems to be that these pins are best being removed .... and as that corresponds with the gut-feeling that my son has, I expect we'll go ahead.

(Actually I was told at the hospital that as he's 17 it's my son's decision alone, and he even had to sign that I could be contacted by the hospital if necessary ! Good thing he has no intention of keeping me out and that we discuss the situation together, but I found surprising that the legal decision age is 17 and not 18 in medical affairs)
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Old 29.10.2008, 15:14
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Re: Removing pins after a broken leg

Dear WendyD,
Slightly off-topic, but I think you'll find the over-sixteen rule applies to school as well (at least in the public sector).
Became the rule about 12-13 years ago, if I remember correctly.
We had no end of trouble with our youngest son skiving off class, not doing homework etc. and the school refused to inform us when he went "missing" or there was any other sort of problem because he'd not signed a consent form!
I had to "frog-march" him to the school office and make him sign one in my presence in the end.
Anjela
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