Foreign Body Removal

Examples of common foreign bodies include glass, nails, needles, toothpicks and tacks. These items can become embedded inside a puncture wound, along with dirt, skin debris and sock particles. Because the embedded particles are not sterile, the person is at risk for infection. There is also the potential for damage to the surrounding anatomy when the puncture occurs, depending on the size, length, and cleanliness of the object.

Seeking medical help within the first 24 hours is critical. Even if you have already gone to the Emergency Department, it is imperative that you have a podiatric surgeon assess your foot, conduct imaging if applicable, to ensure the foreign body has been completely removed and the area sufficiently cleaned out. The key is prevention of infection to the wound, bone or joint. 

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has created Guidelines for what to do in the event that you experience a puncture wound with a foreign body:

  • Seek treatment right away
  • Get a tetanus shot if needed (usually every 10 years)
  • See a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions
  • Keep your dressing dry
  • Keep weight off of the injured foot
  • Finish all your antibiotics (if prescribed)
  • Take your temperature regularly. Watch for signs of infection (pain, redness, swelling, fever). Call your doctor if these signs appear.