What is a Bone Screw?

Victoria Blackburn

A bone screw is used to aid in the healing process of a broken bone. It is a screw that is made from a non-reactive material and is implanted into the bone to stop fractured bone segments from moving around. The bone screw secures the broken pieces of the bone together to allow it to heal properly. By leaving the bone screws in place, the bone can fuse back to its original form.

A bone screw may be used to repair broken bones.
A bone screw may be used to repair broken bones.

When bones need to be fused together, a bone screw can be attached to the bone either permanently or temporarily. To insert the screw, depending on the severity and location of the broken bone, a patient is usually given local anesthesia and a surgeon will make a cut over the fractured bone. After repositioning the broken bone into its proper position, the screws are attached to the bone for a predetermined amount of time. When the healing process is complete the screws may be left in place or removed.

Bone screws are implanted into bones.
Bone screws are implanted into bones.

Bone fracture repair may use one of a variety of methods that involves bone screws to repair the broken bone. Typically, the bone screw is inserted into the bone directly across the breakage to hold the bone together. The screws are then driven through the bone with a specialized tool, much like a drill. The drill is used to prepare a puncture hole in the bone before the screw is placed into the bone. Bone screws come in a range of sizes and materials for use in a variety of different bone repairs and advances in research have created a wider selection of materials and options for patients needing bone screws to heal a broken bone.

Titanium spinal implants can correct deformities.
Titanium spinal implants can correct deformities.

The procedure and tools used to repair a bone depends on the type of fracture to the bone and which bone was actually broken. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and benefits to inserting and removing bone screws. Based on the type and scale of break, the bone that was broken and the overall health of the patient, the doctor will determine the best course of action for bone repair.

Fractures sometimes require surgical intervention to realign the bone and secure it in place.
Fractures sometimes require surgical intervention to realign the bone and secure it in place.

Traditionally, a bone screw was made from titanium and a surgeon performed one procedure to place the screw into the bone and then another procedure was necessary to surgically remove it later. This process was painful and time-consuming and the holes from the screws would never heal. Researchers have since discovered that screws can be made from a material that grows into the implant and eliminates the holes in the bone caused by the screws. This new material is said to biodegrade after two years, making them a preferred method for doctors and patients.

A dynamic hip screw procedure utilizes a large bone screw to stabilize the hip joint after a fracture near the femoral head.
A dynamic hip screw procedure utilizes a large bone screw to stabilize the hip joint after a fracture near the femoral head.
Metal pins, plates and screws may be used to fix a transverse fracture.
Metal pins, plates and screws may be used to fix a transverse fracture.

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