Severe hallux valgus deformity with proximal instability creates pain and deformity in the forefoot. First tarsometatarsal joint arthrodesis is performed to reduce the intermetatarsal angle and stabilize the joint. Dorsomedial locking plate fixation with adjunctive lag screw fixation is used because of its superior construct strength and healing rate. Despite this, questions remain regarding whether this hardware is more prominent and more likely to need removal. The purpose of the present study was to determine the incidence of symptomatic hardware at the first tarsometatarsal joint and to determine the incidence of hardware removal resulting from prominence and/or discomfort. A review of 165 medical records of consecutive patients who had undergone first tarsometatarsal joint arthrodesis with plate fixation was conducted. The outcome of interest was the incidence of symptomatic hardware removal in patients with clinical union. The mean age was 55 (range 18.4 to 78.8) years. The mean follow-up duration was 65.9 ± 34.0 (range 7.0 to 369.0) weeks. In our cohort, 25 patients (15.2%) had undergone hardware removed because of pain and irritation. Of these patients, 18 (72.0%) had a locking plate and lag screw removed, and 7 (28.0%) had crossing lag screws removed. The fixation of a first tarsometatarsal joint fusion poses a difficult situation owing to minimal soft tissue coverage and the inherent need for robust fixation to promote fusion. Hardware can become prominent postoperatively and can become painful and/or induce cutaneous compromise. The results of the present observational investigation imply that surgeons can reasonably inform patients that the incidence of symptomatic hardware removal after first tarsometatarsal arthrodesis is approximately 15% within a median duration of 9.0 months after surgery.

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