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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Broken Radial head in elbow-I think a screw is coming out

 preachrswf - Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:44 am

I fell down 15 stairs June 8 and broke my elbow - they called it a "terrible triad" injury. I had surgery to repair it and they put in 3 pins and 2 screws. 6 weeks later I had to have surgery to "unfreeze" my arm and remove 1 screw. I have recovered well and even surprised my doctor with having 95% use of my arm. But within the last couple of days I've noticed a knot forming on my elbow, right beneath my incision. Occasionally it itches, but it's solid and swells when I use it a lot. My surgeon has released me, but could this be a pin or screw backing out and coming loose? If so, do I have to have surgery to remove it (I had to quit my job because I was off work for more than 3 months) so I now am uninsured. If I don't have surgery, what will happen?

Thank you for your time. My surgeon is on vacation, so I can't ask him.
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:58 pm

User avatar Hello,
Sounds like the elbow recovery was a success.

Regarding the hard, itchy, swelling knot near the incision, it may be a screw or pin withdrawing from the bone so an xray will be necessary.

If this is a screw loosening, it will continue to cause problems and need to be removed or replaced.

First things first, have the elbow xray'd and follow up with your physician for results.

Let us know how things turn out.
 preachrswf - Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:40 am

Thank you. Had the xray, and the Dr. says I must have the surgery. What happens if I don't? I'm uninsured? Can I wait until I get a new job in a few months and have the surgery then?
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:01 pm

User avatar Hello,

Best case scenario is the screw needs to be removed and not replaced. The screw stays where it is (does not back out of the bone any further) and causes no more local irritation and the body does not recognize it as a foreign body (which could cause increased swelling, redness, pain)... and the hardware does not poke through the skin causing a fresh wound and the wound does not get infected.

Worst case scenario is that the screw needs to be replaced but you wait. It backs out of the bone. The bone is somewhat unstable. You hit the elbow accidentally and break it again. More surgery, more rehab, more pain.

You and your surgeon ought to discuss the pros and cons of waiting before making your final decision.

Keep us posted.

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