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K wires

What are ‘K’ wires?

Kirschner wires (or ‘K’ wires) are used to:

  • secure and maintain the position of broken bones or when bent bones are straightened
  • stay in place until new bone around the fracture site begins to form. The time this takes is different for each child.

‘K’ wires vary in size and width. The most common sites where ‘K’ wires are inserted are at the elbow, wrist and ankle.

The ‘K’ wires will be covered by a dressing and a plaster cast.

Are the ‘K’ wires stuck in the bone?

No, the new bone that grows after a fracture (or after corrective bone surgery) forms a channel around the ‘K’ wire and can be easily removed.

How are the ‘K’ wires removed?

This procedure will take place in the outpatients plaster room and you will be given an appointment to attend.

The nursing staff will discuss the procedure with you and your child and take you through it a step at a time. We would advise you to give your child some pain relief before you attend the appointment to help with any discomfort.

  1. Firstly the plaster cast and underlying dressing will be removed. You will be able to see the ‘K’ wires resting above the level of the skin.
  2. The nurse will use a pair of grippers to get hold of the wire and retrieve with a pull and a twisting movement quite quickly and safely.
  3. Once the pins are removed, gentle pressure may be applied until any bleeding has stopped followed by a dressing to cover the area.

Will my child be in pain?

Not necessarily as you will have given your child pain relief before the procedure, but they may have an ache afterwards for a short time.

Children can be anxious about things they do not understand or are frightened of. This anxiety can be confused with pain. Entonox, a mixture of gas and air, can help with discomfort and reduce anxiety. It is not suitable for all children but the nursing staff will discuss this with you at the time to see if this needed during the procedure.

Toys and books are available to help to distract your child during the procedure which works quite well most often.

How can I help my child?

Please give your child some paracetamol about 1 hour before your appointment. This will help with any discomfort or aching that your child may experience and can be continued at home afterwards if required.

Will my child need an X-ray?

If an X-ray is needed, it is usually done before the ‘K’ wires are removed.

Will my child need another plaster cast?

Your child may not need a new plaster cast. It depends upon the type of injury or surgery that your child has had and their age. If a plaster cast is required it will be applied before you leave the plaster room and sometimes a Velcro splint is given at the wrist.

Will my child be able to bathe afterwards?

Yes, your child can bath or shower 24 hours after their appointment if they did not have a new plaster cast. If they need another plaster cast they will be unable to bathe or shower.

Will it leave a scar?

It will leave a scar, but only a very small one. It will be as big as the width of the ‘K’ wire that is removed. It will be red in colour to start with but over a period of time (up to 2 years) it will fade and become paler.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Plaster room between Monday and Friday from 9am till 5pm on 0114 271 7538.

Out of hours between Monday and Friday from 5pm and on weekends.

Emergency department on 0114 271 7068 or 0114 271 7067.

Further resources

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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