Saturday, May 31, 2008

Clavicle steel plate removal dilemma

Saw the surgeon yesterday. I have an appointment with a physical therapist Tues. to start doing some PT and begin to restore some range of motion and prevent further loss. Being in a sling for six weaks has noticeably atrophied my left arm, pecs and lats. If you thought I was skinny before... I've been researching removal of the plate and screws after a year (not for squeamish):

Pro: stronger bones because of the lack of the "crutch" of the plate, plus the weak point of the holes from the screws will be gone; less likelihood of another fracture due to weakness at screw holes and stress risers where metal meets bone; less discomfort from tendons and nerves against screw heads and plate edges; less discomfort in winter due to cold steel against bone.

Con: risk of complications from surgery, including infection, further nerve damage, anaesthesia and all the other risks of open surgery; risk of another fracture while screw holes fill in after the removal; remote risk of my body rejecting or attacking the "foreign" object.

If I did it, it would be after cyclocross season ends next year, and I'd have the winter to heal without undue risk of another fracture while racing.

Has anyone else been faced with this decision? Am I missing other considerations?