Pin Care

Some types of braces, skeletal traction, and external fixators use pins. These devices also may have rods and clamps that help hold broken bones in place while they heal. With these devices, a pin makes a direct pathway to the bone. This pathway to the bone increases the risk of infection. If you have one of these devices, it is extremely important to keep the pin and the skin around it as clean as possible to help prevent infection.

Pin care is the process of cleaning a pin and the skin around where the pin enters the body. Good care of the pin and the pin site is very important to prevent infection.

Preparation

Do pin care 1 to 3 times a day, as directed by your doctor. Place the following items close at hand before you begin:

  • A clean, 4- to 8-ounce container with lid
  • Normal saline (you can buy this at most drug stores)hydrogen peroxide (you can buy this at most drug stores)
  • A pen or marker
  • Blue pads or a clean towel
  • Clean cotton swabs (like Q-tips). You will need a lot of these.
  • Betadine or antibiotic ointment, if ordered by your doctor

In the container, mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and normal saline. For instance, mix 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of normal saline. Mark the container with the name of the solution and the date it was mixed. You may save and use the same solution for up to 24 hours.

Cleaning the area

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Place a blue pad or a clean towel under the area to be cleaned.
  3. Clean the skin around each pin this way: Wet a cotton swab with the solution you mixed. Place the swab where the pin enters the skin. Then make one stroke outward on your skin with the swab, moving away from the pin. Throw the swab away. Take another swab, dip it in the solution and make another stroke outward from the pin. Throw the swab away. Using a new
    cotton swab for each stroke, clean until you have made a complete circle around the pin. If the cotton swab has cotton at both ends, you may use the other end of the swab before throwing it out. Use each cotton tip only once.
  4. As you are cleaning the skin around the pin, pull the skin away from the pin with the cotton swab. Use the swab to remove any crust at the pin site. Remove the crust by making an outward stroke from the pin site. If you need to make several strokes to remove crust, use a clean swab for each stroke.
  5. Look for signs of infection at the pin site. Signs of infection include redness, increased pain, swelling, pus-like drainage, or black tissue around the pin site. If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor or nurse immediately.
  6. The next step is to clean the pin itself with a cotton swab and the solution. Wet the swab with the solution. Place the swab where the pin enters the skin and make a stroke along the pin, moving away from your skin. Throw the swab away. Using a new cotton swab for each stroke, clean the entire pin.
  7. In some cases, your doctor may order an ointment to be applied around the pin site. Your doctor will tell you what ointment to use if needed. Put a small amount of the ointment on a cotton swab. Place the swab where the pin enters the skin. Then make a stroke along the pin, moving away from your skin. Discard the swab. Use a new swab for each pin.
  8. Put used cotton swabs and any used blue pads in the trash.
  9. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  10. The solution may be saved and used again for up to 24 hours. Be sure to seal the container. Keep the container of solution out of the reach of children.

When to call the doctor

If you notice any of the following signs of infection, call your doctor or nurse immediately:

  • Redness at the pin site
  • Increased pain at the pin site
  • Swelling at the pin site
  • Pus-like drainage from the pin site
  • Black tissue around the pin site
  • Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or above
  • Chills

Call your doctor or nurse with any questions or concerns you may have about pin care.


My doctor’s name:

_________________________________________
My doctor’s phone number:

_________________________________________
My nurse’s name:

___________________________________________
My nurse’s phone number:

__________________________________________

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com