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needle in foot

I stepped on a sewing needle,waited a week pain was so bad and swollen foot hosp.said I have to go have it taken out by a specialist,i want to know whats the procedure going to be to get it out.its in there pretty far.i got tetanus shot at hosp already.are they going to do it in hosp setting?is the numbing of it going to be very painful?and will I have to have stitches.thank you



You would think a simple question would lead to a simple answer but unfortunately not knowing where the needle is actually located in your foot and the actual depth of the needle it is hard to give you specifics.

So lets take a worse case scenario and that is the needle is so deep that it cannot be removed in the doctor's office. I will tell you that general doctors are probably not as good at removing needles from feet as are podiatrists.

So one of your options is to perhaps see a foot specialist before running off to the hospital to have it removed. Over the years, after taking an x-ray to see how deep the needle might be, I have able to just put a little novocaine into the area, open the area slightly and pull out the needle.

However, if that cannot be done then it will be more of a problem getting the needle out. Usually it can be done in an out patient setting, meaning you go into the hospital or a surgery center, have the needle removed and then go home. This is assuming you have no medical issues that have to be dealt with.

With the use of an x-ray or an ultrasound, the doctor will be able to see the relationship of the needle to the surface of the foot. From there he or she will be able to determine the best way to approach the needle.

If the needle is reasonably close to the surface, but deep enough that it is "buried" the area will have to be opened up to get to the needle. In most cases we are probably talking about an incision of less than an inch in length.

In most cases this can be done under what is called local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, meaning the anesthesiologist will give you something through your vein to quiet you down and your surgeon, once you are asleep, will put the area to sleep with novocaine. Keep in mind, intravenous sedation is not general anesthesia, so you do not have to worry about that.

Once the needle is removed, the area will require a stitch or two. Now if the needle was removed from the ball of your foot, the surgeon may want to put you on crutches in order to avoid scarring of the incision which can end up hurting on a constant basis. If the incision is elsewhere on the foot, you may be able to start bearing weight immediately.

Stitches normally stay in for two weeks and once removed you should be finished.

One suggestion I would make would be to avoid bearing weight on the part of the foot where the needle is located as you do not want to push the needle further into the foot. This may require crutches, but by not pushing the needle further into the foot, you will make your life much easier.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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