Discharging pin sites following K-wire fixation of distal radial fractures : A case for pin removal ?

Published online: Jun 27 2009

Aravind Desai, Asterios Dramis, Neville Thompson, Tim Board, Awani Choudhary

From Bassetlaw District General Hospital, Worksop, United Kingdom


The aim of this study was to find out whether discharging pin sites following Kirschner-wire fixation of distal radial fractures warrant early wire removal. In a prospective study of 50 patients with a closed distal radial fracture treated by manipulation and either percutaneous or mini-incision Kirschner-wiring, we identified 14 patients (28%) with discharging pin sites. All of the cases were observed within the first two weeks following surgery. Of the 14 cases, only 2 patients had a positive swab culture and were treated with systemic antibiotics. In all cases the Kirschner wires were left in situ until serial radiographs demonstrated satisfactory union. Three patients (8.6%) in the percutaneous group had superficial radial nerve irritation, which settled following wire removal. Deep soft tissue infection, pyoarthrosis, osteomyelitis, and extensor tendon rupture were not encountered. We conclude that pin site discharge, whether sterile or infected, is in general not an indication for early wire removal.