Recently an increasing number of patients with complications related to pierced body jewellery have been seen. Often removal of the jewellery is indicated. Removal of these items may also be required for radiological purposes. If the doctor is familiar with the opening mechanism of the item, removal is not usually difficult. Uninformed attempts at removal may cause unnecessary trauma and distress. In a survey of 28 accident and emergency doctors, only six were able accurately to describe the opening mechanisms of all three commonly used types of jewellery. Descriptions of the types of jewellery currently used are not available in the medical literature. The aim of this article is to familiarize doctors with the types of jewellery used, describe their opening mechanisms, and suggest techniques for their removal. The complications of body piercing and the indications for the removal of body jewellery are also outlined.
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