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Pin Infection – The very worst kind of pain 3

Posted by DarrenG on December 10, 2009

ilizarov-x-ray-knittedOnly recently I was thinking how lucky I had been to only suffer one pin infection very early on in the process.

Then last Saturday one of my pin wires sprung an infection which got worse very quickly. By Sunday I had another pin wire and one of the thicker pins also infected.

My earlier infection I now know was but a teaser and the discomfort I had back then was nothing compared with the agonising and completely debilitating pain that this one has demonstrated.

So Monday morning I saw my GP who quickly prescribed Phenoxymethylpenicillin and Flucloaxacillin, two types of high dose antibiotic and as my normal pain killer supply wasn’t touching this new source of pain, Co-Codamol in the high strength 30mg dose.

The main infection is in the pin closest to the top of my thigh.  It is in the worst possible place because the skin and flesh moves a lot in this area.  And movement = lots of pain.

A small  ulcerated type hole has appeared around the wire, and exudes blood and puss.  Any movement causes the pin to press against the sides of this hole and which I can only describe as a sharp white hot burning type pain.  Imagine a very hot stilletto knife being jabbed deep into your thigh and you’d be very close!

If I stop moving and press my thigh so that the pin moves away from the edge of the hole the pain abates immediately.  But let go and it is back just as quickly.

So this has made all movement extremely painful and I now find myself avoiding anything that may anger it.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time as Tuesday I had the hospital clinic appointment to review progress. The consultant was very happy with bone growth (see the image below).  The new bone has knitted well and formed a large knucle of new bone around the fractured site.  The bone has knitted so well that he was happy to move to the next stage known as ‘dynamising’.  This involves undoing the nuts and bolts that I had earlier used to lengthen the frame and grow my bone.

With the nuts all backed off there was no mechanical connection between the lower section and the top section meaning that when I stand up, all my weight is now passing through the fracture site and not being shared via the frame.

So, bolts were undone and I was asked to hop off the consulting couch and walk around the clinic.  This I did and no specific pain was experienced.  The only disconcerting thing is the now loose adjusters clang and scrape against the frame as there is a fair degree of movement now between the frame sections.  This is quite unpleasant but I’ll get used to it (I hope!).

Being the ‘engineers’ whose expertise is the frames, the consultants weren’t particularly interested in my infection issues nor would I expect them to be.

So now I’ve taken one big step forward and two bigger ones back.  My wife has to help me  get up/sit down once again and help me in/out of bed accompanied by my screaming in pain which is very unpleasant for everyone, not just me.

I’m hoping and praying that the antibiotics will start having an effect soon and I will be able to see the infection retreating.  We’re committed to a long drive home to North Wales tomorrow to visit my family and the prospect of a 5 hour drive isn’t something I am looking forwards to in this state.

I was feeling very buoyant but this has knocked me for six. But as always, things can only get better, Christmas is coming after all and Jan 6th I have another clinic where, if all has gone to plan, they will schedule the frame removal data.

ilizarov-x-ray-knitted ilizarov-xray-knitted2 ilizarov-adjuster-undone ilizarov-pin-infection

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  1. Tracey Fri, 11 Dec 2009 14:04:25 UTC

    My leg hurt looking at those pin pictures….ahhh!

  2. Bernie Moreira Sun, 13 Mar 2011 21:42:44 UTC

    Hi reading your story,I’ve had the same opp on my left lower leg which was lengthen and straighten and have had pin site infections the same as you have,I’ve been on and off antibiotics now fro seven months and pain when I move or put pressure on my leg, I have been taking excellent care with pin cleaning and dressings,hopefully this frame should come off by April its been a night mare, the surgeons who worked on my leg in Swansea were great, but I guess its one of those problems that can’t be helped Regards!

  3. DarrenG Sun, 13 Mar 2011 21:51:34 UTC

    Hi Bernie, Yes I’m afraid that no matter how careful you are, infections will occur. It’s one of those things when you have what is essentially, a number of open wound sites. The infections were without doubt the worst part of the whole process but it is worth it in the end!

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