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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Surgery 1/2015

Metal implant removal: benefits and drawbacks – a patient survey

BMC Surgery > Ausgabe 1/2015
Georg Reith, Vera Schmitz-Greven, Kai O. Hensel, Marco M. Schneider, Tibor Tinschmann, Bertil Bouillon, Christian Probst
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12893-015-0081-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

RG, PC and SGV performed the design of the study and drafted the manuscript. SMM and HKO helped to draft the manuscript. TT helped with data acquisition. BB provided general support. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Hardware removals are among the most commonly performed surgical procedures worldwide. Current literature offers little data concerning postoperative patient satisfaction. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the patients’ point of view on implant removal.


We surveyed patients of a German level one trauma center, who underwent hardware removal in 2009 and 2010, with regard to their personal experiences on implant removal. Exclusively, data obtained out of the survey were analyzed.


In 332 patients surveyed, most hardware removals were performed at the ankle joint (21 %) followed by the wrist (15 %). The most frequent indication was a doctor’s recommendation (68 %), followed by pain (31 %) and impaired function (31 %). Patient reported complication rate of implant removal was 10 %. Importantly, after implant removal because of pain or impaired function patients reported an improvement in function (72 %) as well as decreased pain (96 %). 96 % of all responding patients and 66 % of the patients who suffered from subsequent complications would opt for surgical implant removal again.


In summary, despite the challenging and frequently troublesome nature of surgical hardware removal our data contradicts the widely held view that implant removal is often without a positive effect on the patients. These findings may influence the surgeons’ attitude towards implant removal and their day-to-day routine in patient counseling.
Additional file 1: Questionnaire translated in English. (DOCX 23 kb)
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