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Implants Can Be Safely Removed After Fractures Heal

More than half of patients pain-free after a year

THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Many orthopaedic implant patients with lingering pain after a fracture heals can safely have the implant removed to reduce pain and improve mobility, researchers report in the September issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Reuven Minkowitz, M.D., of New York University-Hospital for Joint Diseases, in New York City, and colleagues assessed pain and other outcomes in 60 fracture patients with lingering pain that was not due to infection or other problems. The patients were assessed three months, six months and one year after the removal of the orthopaedic hardware.

Implant removal caused no complications. Fifty-seven patients followed-up for one year expressed satisfaction with the procedure, and reported better mobility. Pain scores dropped from a mean of 5.5 to 1.3 according to the visual analog scale, improving by 76 percent over one year.

Fifty-three percent of patients were pain-free after a year. Mobility improved 43 percent from baseline according to the Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment Questionnaire, and 40 percent according to the physical part of the Short Form-36.

"Following fracture-healing, removal of hardware is safe with minimal risk," the authors write. "Improvement in pain relief and function can be expected."

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