Implant removal of osteosynthesis: the Dutch practice. Results of a survey
1 Department of Surgery, Amphia Hospital Breda, PO Box 90158, Breda, 4800 RK, Netherlands
2 AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation, Dübendorf, Switzerland
3 Department of Surgery, St. Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, Netherlands
Journal of Trauma Management & Outcomes 2012, 6:6 doi:10.1186/1752-2897-6-6Published: 3 August 2012
The aim of this survey study was to evaluate the current opinion and practice of trauma and orthopaedic surgeons in the Netherlands in the removal of implants after fracture healing.
A web-based questionnaire consisting of 44 items was sent to all active members of the Dutch Trauma Society and Dutch Orthopaedic Trauma Society to determine their habits and opinions about implant removal.
Though implant removal is not routinely done in the Netherlands, 89% of the Dutch surgeons agreed that implant removal is a good option in case of pain or functional deficits. Also infection of the implant or bone is one of the main reasons for removing the implant (> 90%), while making money was a motivation for only 1% of the respondents. In case of younger patients (< 40 years of age) only 34% of the surgeons agreed that metal implants should always be removed in this category. Orthopaedic surgeons are more conservative and differ in their opinion about this subject compared to general trauma surgeons (p = 0.002). Though the far majority removes elastic nails in children (95%).
Most of the participants (56%) did not agree that leaving implants in is associated with an increased risk of fractures, infections, allergy or malignancy. Yet in case of the risk of fractures, residents all agreed to this statement (100%) whereas staff specialists disagreed for 71% (p < 0.001). According to 62% of the surgeons titanium plates are more difficult to remove than stainless steel, but 47% did not consider them safer to leave in situ compared to stainless steel. The most mentioned postoperative complications were wound infection (37%), unpleasant scarring (24%) and postoperative hemorraghe (19%).
This survey indicates that there is no general opinion about implant removal after fracture healing with a lack of policy guidelines in the Netherlands. In case of symptomatic patients a majority of the surgeons removes the implant, but this is not standard practice for every surgeon.