Elective implant removal (IR) in the upper extremity remains controversial. Implants in the olecranon and clavicle are commonly removed for prominence, unlike in the distal radius. Patient-reported symptomatic cannot be verified, and nonspecific discomfort remains unquantified. In this study, indications and outcomes of IR at the clavicle, olecranon and distal radius were evaluated, with a focus on postoperative patient satisfaction.
Materials and methods
In this retrospective, single-center cohort study, patients, who received elective IR of the clavicle, olecranon and distal radius were included. Patients were followed up at least six weeks after IR. Outcomes included patient satisfaction, symptom resolution, and complications.
One hundred and eighty-nine patients were included. Unspecific symptoms of discomfort were the most prevalent indication for IR (48.7%), followed by pain (29.6%) and objective limited range of motion (ROM) (7%). Pain and limited ROM combined was observed in 13.8%. Subjective benefit following IR was described in 54%. Patients with limited ROM (OR 4.7, p < 0.001) or pain (OR 4.1, p < 0.001) were more likely to experience alleviation of complaints. Patients with unspecific symptoms of discomfort, often did not report improvement. Major complications occurred in 2%. Refractures were detected at the clavicle (3.7%) and at the olecranon (2.5%). Minor complication rate was 5%.
IR is a safe procedure in the upper extremity. Indications based on unspecific symptoms of discomfort have a significant lower rate of patient satisfaction postoperatively. Elective IR should be considered cautiously, if it is driven primarily by unspecific symptoms of discomfort. Patient education is relevant to prevent dissatisfying outcome.