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How To Remove a Deep Fishhook


Matthew J. Streitz

, MD, San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Fishhooks may become embedded deep in the subcutaneous or fascial layer of skin.

A deep fishhook is one that has penetrated to or past the curve of the hook—the barbed point is directed parallel to or even toward the skin surface and thus cannot be pulled out directly. Shallow fishhooks How To Remove a Shallow Fishhook Fishhooks may become embedded in the subcutaneous layer of skin. A shallow fishhook is one that goes straight in and has not penetrated to the curve of the hook—the barbed point is directed... read more have a different removal technique.


  • Deeply embedded fishhook in skin

A fishhook in the globe of the eye should be managed by a specialist.


  • None


  • Infection

  • Chronic granuloma formation


  • Cleansing solution, such as povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine

  • 21- and 25-gauge needles

  • 10-mL syringe

  • Local anesthetic, such as 1% lidocaine

  • #11 scalpel

  • Strong forceps or pliers

  • Strong wire cutters (eg, diagonal cutters)

  • Small, nonsterile paper or plastic cup

  • Nonsterile gloves

Relevant Anatomy

  • Rarely, hooks become embedded in or near important structures (eg, nerves, vessels, tendons) that must be taken into consideration during removal.


  • Patient comfort with good lighting, excellent exposure of the fishhook, and support of the affected area on a firm surface

Step-by-Step Description of Procedure


  • Keep wound clean and dry and remove dressing after 48 hours.

  • With foot wounds, elevate extremity and limit ambulation for 1 to 2 days.

  • Return for evaluation for increased pain, redness, swelling, or other indications of infection.

  • Antibiotics are not used routinely, unless patient is immunocompromised.

No data support the routine use of antibiotics except possibly in immunocompromised patients. If given, use a first-generation cephalosporin or penicillinase-resistant penicillin, or for patients with contraindications to penicillins and cephalosporins, clindamycin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, or tetracycline.

Warnings and Common Errors

  • Rarely, a hook will be embedded within or underneath an important structure, and this advancement method could cause significant damage; open exploration should be done.

  • As with all puncture wounds, there is significant risk of infection.

  • Failing to cover the hook tip as it is cut will allow it to fly off at high speed, risking injury.

Tips and Tricks

  • Fishhooks are made of very strong steel; small wire cutters and bandage scissors are often inadequate to cut them.

  • If other methods are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to make an elliptical incision around the hook entrance.

  • Before removing a fishhook embedded in subungual tissue, use a digital block. Some cases require removing the nail or part of it to expose the hook.


Ahmad Khan H, Kamal Y, Lone AU: Fish hook injury: Removal by "push through and cut off" technique: A case report and brief literature review. Trauma Mon 19(2):e17728, 2014. doi: 10.5812/traumamon.17728

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