Fractures of the proximal femur commonly occur but the majority of orthopaedic surgeons do not consider general hardware removal as a routine necessity. Indications and time interval for hardware removal in this special selected patient group is still controversial. Therefore we performed a retrospective study to address the following questions: 1) Is there a difference between the medically- (infection, mechanical problems, implant failure) and non-medically indicated group (patients demand, meteoro-sensitivity, foreign body sensation) in relation to complications? 2) Is there a correlation regarding time interval between implantation and removal comparing these two groups? 3) Is there a context related refracture rate? 4) Should non-medically indicated implant removal (IR) be performed due to persistent pressure from the patient?

We hypothesized that non-medically indicated implant removals should be avoided due to a significantly higher number of associated complications.

A total of 371 consecutive patients with 424 hardware removal procedures following a proximal femur fracture, between 08/1992 and 11/2008, have been included. Study population was divided into two groups according to their indication for implant removal: medically indicated group (MIR) consisted of 299 patients (80.59%) and 72 patients (19.41%) were assigned to the non-medically indicated (NMIR) group.

In the NMIR subgroup a total of (n = 21) 28% complications occurred compared to 11.46% in the MIR subgroup; (P < 0.005), 86.51% of IR in the MIR group were performed within 1.5 years, compared to 79.17% in the NMIR group after 2 to 3.5 years (NS). In the MIR group 1 refracture occurred, compared to 4 in the NMIR group (NS).

Non-medically indicated implant removal should be avoided due to the higher complication rate of 28%. Surgeons and patients should be aware of the imminent complications and therefore implant removal should only be performed for good medical reasons.

Level IV. Historical case study.

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