1. Radioisotopic techniques were used to assess the amount of contamination of orthopaedic screws by screwdrivers. Drivers made of five alloys were tested on screws made of four metals.
2. Two factors were found to be involved in this contamination: metallic transfer, and flaking of large pieces of the tip of the screwdriver by tire cutting action of the screw slot against the driver.
3. Quantitative results show much variation and do not allow definite conclusions. However, we tentatively suggest that, of the screwdrivers tested, an AISI 420 stainless-steel screwdriver seems slightly preferable to others in handling AISI 316 and titanium screws; cobalt-chromium-nickel-tungsten drivers might prove useful in handling cobalt-chromium-molybdenum serews. Further research, especially with the goal of decreasing metallic transfer by lubrication, is needed.