Removal of Implants
Metal implants used in orthopaedic surgery are generally expected to remain in place for your entire life. In some instances they cause problems. They may become painful, or may loosen. They can safely be removed once they are no longer providing a function.
The implants are removed by opening a part of the scar formed after the surgery to put them in. You will usually have a general anesthetic, and the surgery can be done as an outpatient.
Day of Surgery
At the end of the surgical procedure the wound is covered. A soft wrap or a short leg plaster splint is applied. That dressing gives support to the ankle and foot, holding it securely. You should leave that in place until I change it at the first post-operative office visit.
You will be given crutches at the surgery center, and I want you to not put any weight on that leg during the first week. If the splint gets wet or there is a problem with it, please call the office so I can remove it myself. Do not walk on the splint.
Dealing with post-operative pain will be your major concern for the first few days.
Most people find that for the first few days after surgery their foot will feel better if it is elevated. Generally, if you let it hang down for any period of time it will throb and you may have more swelling. You can put it into whatever position feels best, but usually that will be elevated with a pillow under the foot.
The first post-operative visit is usually 7 – 10 days after surgery. I will remove the splint and dressings, wash your leg, and take out the skin stitches.
After the skin stitches have been removed you can shower or bathe your foot, then towel it dry and put a clean sock over it. In some cases I will let you go into a shoe. Otherwise I will give you a prescription for a CAM Walker at that visit. You will use that as a removeable walking cast for protected weightbearing for 3 - 5 weeks. You should not sit in a hot tub until 2 weeks after surgery.
The second post-operative visit is usually at the 4 - 6 week point. At that time I will check to make sure that everything is healing satisfactorily. I will then allow you to wear whatever shoe feels comfortable.
Most patients have swelling about the surgical area that lasts for about 4 months after surgery. You should not resume athletic activities for between 2 - 3 months after surgery.
The goal of the surgery is to leave you with a painless foot and leg that will allow normal activities. You should be able to regain full strength and power in the leg and ankle, and have no restriction of motion. Some patients will have some mild soreness still. Some will notice discomfort when the weather changes.
Complications can occur with any surgery. Go here for a general discussion of Surgical Complications.
Specific risks for this procedure include persistence of pain.