Removal of Broken Hardware

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons February 2008, Volume 16, Issue 2 David J. Hak, MD and Matthew McElvany, MD

Despite advances in metallurgy, fatigue failure of hardware is common when a fracture fails to heal. Revision procedures can be difficult, usually requiring removal of intact or broken hardware. Several different methods may need to be attempted to successfully remove intact or broken hardware. Broken intramedullary nail cross-locking screws may be advanced out by impacting with a Steinmann pin. Broken open-section (Küntscher type) intramedullary nails may be removed using a hook. Closed-section cannulated intramedullary nails require additional techniques, such as the use of guidewires or commercially available extraction tools. Removal of broken solid nails requires use of a commercial ratchet grip extractor or a bone window to directly impact the broken segment. Screw extractors, trephines, and extraction bolts are useful for removing stripped or broken screws. Cold-welded screws and plates can complicate removal of locked implants and require the use of carbide drills or high-speed metal cutting tools. Hardware removal can be a time-consuming process, and no single technique is uniformly successful.

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