Breaks may arise from poor quality manufacture, erosion between the shaft and the handle, strong muscle spasm or sudden movement of the patient, incorrect withdrawal of a stuck or bent needle, or prolonged use of galvanic current.
If, during insertion, a needle becomes bent, it should be withdrawn and replaced by another. Too much force should not be used when manipulating needles, particularly during lifting and thrusting. The junction between the handle and the shaft is the part that is apt to break. Therefore, in inserting the needle, one-quarter to one-third of the shaft should always be kept above the skin.
If a needle breaks, the patient should be told to keep calm and not to move, so as to prevent the broken part of the needle from going deeper into the tissues. If a part of the broken needle is still above the skin, remove it with forceps. If it is at the same level as the skin, press around the site gently until the broken end is exposed, and then remove it with forceps. If it is completely under the skin, ask the patient to resume his/her previous position and the end of the needle shaft will often be exposed. If this is unsuccessful, surgical intervention will be needed.