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Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: Hand Surgery to remove metal


 gearhead - Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:53 pm

33, male, steel bb in hand.

I have a steel bb in my hand, too deep for the urgicenter to remove, they said go to the ER or specialist. I said I don't have healthinsurance, can I leave it in there? They said no, better to remove it, and gave me an antibiotic.

It has not gotten infected, my question is, is there any long term side effects from leaving it in my hand or should I have the surgery?

Thanks!
 Dr. Tino Anthony Solomon - Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:59 am

Hello there,

Generally speaking, a low velocity penetrating injury, which I assume this is, carries with it the risk of an infection. This is because any microbes carried with the vehicle, in this case the ball bearing (BB), have not been sterilised by heat caused by the explosion and friction of the blast. On the contrary, a high velocity injury which does not convey any attached foreign body, is usually sterile because of the intense heat caused by the friction.

Another factor to consider is the composition of the BB. Steel on its own is not toxic, but some BBs may have lead or other metal component as part of their makeup which may be toxic to the body. This is an indication to remove the object. However if the object is steel and has been in your hand for months without any effect it may be safe to just leave it there. I recommend that you visit a hand surgeon (orthopaedic or plastic surgeon), to discuss your options.

Hope this helps.

Dr Tino Solomon
Senior House Officer in Surgery
MBBS BSc(Hons)

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