Removal of metalware

  • Some operations require screws, plates, nails or pins (metalware) to be inserted to help hold bones in a certain position so correct healing can occur. Once the bones have healed, removing the metalware is a simple operation that requires only a short hospital stay.

    Why does my child need their metalware removed?

    Your child's metalware may need to be removed if it starts to present problems, such as causing pain or reduced movement.

    Metalware may also be removed if it is no longer needed because the bone has healed. However, not all metalware needs to be removed after an operation. Doctors will advise you what is best for your child.

    What to expect with metalware removal

    The operation to remove metalware will take place while your child is under a general anaesthetic. You will be provided with fasting guidelines for your child to follow before the surgery.

    The surgeon will usually use the same cut as the initial operation to prevent further scarring.

    After the operation:

    • your child's pain will be controlled with medication
    • your child's nurse or physiotherapist will advise how much and what kind of movement your child can do while they are recovering from the operation
    • your child's wound will be observed for bleeding.

    Your child will be able to return home once their pain is well controlled, they are eating and drinking, and moving around without too much discomfort.

    Care at home

    Your child's wound will be covered with a waterproof dressing. This should be left on for a week after the operation. The wound should be watched for any signs of infection. See our fact sheet Wound care.

    If you think your child has an infection, or if there is any bleeding after discharge, see your GP or treating doctor as soon as possible, or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department.

    You can give your child pain relief once they return home. If pain persists longer than one week, contact your GP or treating hospital.


    You should visit your GP 10–14 days after the operation to they can check the wound.

    You will also be given a follow-up appointment to see doctors at the treating hospital – this is usually six weeks after the operation.

    Key points to remember

    • Any signs of wound infection or bleeding should be seen to immediately.
    • Contact your local doctor or the orthopaedic specialist clinic if you are concerned for any reason.
    • Leave the dressing on for one week after the operation.

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    How long will it take for the bone to heal after the metalware is removed?

    When metalware is removed, the small areas of bone that held the metal in place will heal rapidly and your child will usually recover much more quickly than their initial surgery.

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Orthopaedics department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed August 2018.

    This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician. 

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit


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