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Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C
By Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C on June 03, 2024

Off the Hook: Mastering the Art of Fish Hook Removal in Urgent Care

Warm weather is here, and with it comes BBQs, longer days, and plenty of fun in the sun. Unfortunately, it also means more fishing hooks flying into unexpected places—including, occasionally, someone’s skin. This often presents a unique challenge for urgent care clinicians as we debate how to safely remove that stubborn hook and get our patients back to enjoying their day.

Fear not—we've got you covered. In this guide, we'll dive into the ins and outs of a few methods to safely remove an embedded fish hook. 

Step 1: Assess the Situation

First, determine the location of the hook and evaluate the extent of the injury. Is the hook superficially embedded, or has it penetrated deeper tissues? This initial assessment will guide your approach to removal.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools

Armed with the right tools, you're ready to tackle the bait. Here's what you'll need:

  • Sterile gauze and antiseptic solution to clean the wound
  • Needle-nose pliers or forceps to grasp the hook
  • Wire cutters (optional) to cut the hook if needed 
  • Anesthetic (optional) for pain management

Step 3: Clean and Prep

Before you begin, it’s crucial to clean the surrounding area with an antiseptic solution to reduce the risk of infection. Gently pat the area dry with sterile gauze, and be careful not to embed the hook further.

Step 4: Choose Your Technique

There are three primary techniques for removing an embedded fish hook: the push-through method, the string yank method, and the retrograde method. 

  • Push-through Method: Ideal for superficial hooks with a visible barb, this technique involves pushing the hook through the skin until the barb is exposed, then cutting off the barb and backing the hook out. 
  • String Yank Method: This technique involves applying traction to the end of the hook to disengage the barb from the surrounding tissue, and then securing a string around the bend of the fish hook and applying a quick, sharp tug in the opposite direction of entry to dislodge the hook. 
  • Retrograde Method: For deeply embedded hooks, back out the hook along its original entry path. 

After successfully removing the hook, thoroughly clean the wound and apply a sterile dressing. Provide clear instructions for wound care and follow-up, emphasizing the importance of monitoring for signs of infection.  Always consider covering with an antibiotic and ensure the patient is up to date with their tetanus shot!

So, cast your worries aside; you are now ready to reel in those hook removals like a pro!

Published by Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C June 3, 2024
Kaitlyn Almeida, PA-C