The benefits of implant removal from the foot and ankle

Ariel A. Williams, Daniela M. Witten, Rosanna Duester, Loretta B. Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Following successful orthopaedic surgical procedures, implant removal is generally not necessary or recommended. However, patients with pain related to implants may benefit from this elective procedure. The foot and ankle may be more symptomatic from retained implants because of weight-bearing activities, shoe wear, and limited softtissue cushioning. In such cases, implant removal may provide good and reliable relief of symptoms. Methods: A prospective study of sixty-nine patients who underwent elective removal of symptomatic implants from the foot and ankle was undertaken to evaluate the patients' pain experience. The Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire was administered preoperatively and six weeks postoperatively. Postoperatively, patients were also asked whether they would repeat the procedure and whether they were satisfied with the results. Results: Patients reported significantly less pain following the procedure, with the average rating of pain on the visual analog scale (VAS) decreasing from 3.06 to 0.88 and the average rating of present pain intensity decreasing from 2.03 to 0.58 (p < 0.05 for both). Sixty-five percent of the patients reported no pain on either measure at six weeks postoperatively. Preoperative pain was correlated with postoperative pain (r = 0.24 and p < 0.05 for VAS, and r = 0.16 and p > 0.05 for present pain intensity).With the small sample size, preoperative and postoperative pain did not show a significant difference on the basis of implant location or patient age or sex. Ninety-four percent of patients said they would repeat the procedure under the same circumstances, and 91% of patients were satisfied with the results. Conclusions: Following successful orthopaedic surgical procedures, removal of implants causing symptoms can result in pain relief and a high rate of patient satisfaction. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1316-1320
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 18 2012


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