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20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

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Old 08-25-2004, 12:16 AM   #1
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20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

I was 19 and in a terrible car accident and suffered from a compression fracture of T11, T12, and L1 among many other traumas. At that time Harrington rods were mounted on either side of my spine to prevent mobility and allow the fusion of T11-T12-L1 to heal. Two years later the rods were removed due to major discomfort. Fast forward, I'm 39 with 20 years of wear on my spine since the wreck and suffer from intense pain daily. At times the pain is so great I wish I hadn't survived the wreck. After a complete series of injections (Thoracic ESI) I'm no better - and no worse. I was referred to a very reputable spine-ortho and told that the fusions/rods took away my curvature of thoracic/lumbar region and are now putting stress on nerves, muscles, and my cord at, above, and below the fusion. The doc told me that unless the fusion was fractured there was nothing he could do. Next steps are a CT Scan to rule out a fracture. Is there anyone like me that is suffering great pain due to this type of trauma and has no hope of even reduced levels of pain? or... perhaps you have had some success you could share.
Praying for a pain free day,

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Old 08-25-2004, 05:57 AM   #2
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dust HB User
Re: 20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

There is a highly respected spine surgeon dr hallet mathews who may be able to help you.

Old 08-25-2004, 08:46 AM   #3
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Re: 20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

Hi Ross,
Don't give up. Staying positive is very important. I had rods put in 11 years ago due to scoliosis and am fused from T4 to L1. I am having major problems now due to disc degeneration below my fusion and I also tend to not want to live anymore. I know the feeling but you have to think of the things in life that are worth living for and think positive thoughts. I have been in alot of pain and have had major limited mobility for about 3 years now and now I'm going to schedule a fusion at L4 L5 levels because my disc is collapsed at that level and my facets joints are rubbing together and producing spurring in which is trapping nerves.
I know your pain. It's possible that your not seeing the correct doctor or correct kind of doctor. Where are you located? There are alot of specialists out there who specialize in this type of thing and problems after surgery with the Harrington rods. They are called Revison Specialists. It's possible that the rods took out he natural curve in you lumbar but there are alot of people who have the same kind of problems that have revision surgery. There is a condition called flatback syndrome because of loosing the natural lordosis in your lumbar and there are doctors to correct that.
There are quite a few Revision Specialists in NYC. That is where I got some help and direction in which way to go. There are also some in Texas and many in California. And then there are some around other areas. It is very important to find the right doctor to help you. It is very bothersome and can mean alot of research and money but sometimes you don't have a choice. I know how hard it is. I wish you good luck in your search and I hope that you find relief soon.


Last edited by Mistina; 08-25-2004 at 08:52 AM.

Old 08-25-2004, 04:45 PM   #4
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Re: 20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

Thank you so much. Sounds like you have a much more severe situation being fused from T4 to L1 and have an incredible contagious attitude despite the immobility. I was not aware that a revision specialist existed and could potentially correct the flatback syndrome you described. My films clearly show the complete loss of lumbar curvature where both of my rods were mounted. Have you heard of success stories as a result of restoration of natural lordosis? I'm located in Dallas, Texas and am currently being seen at the Texas Back Institute.

You mentioned that you are tee'd up for another fusion. I read on the Texas Back Institute's website [url]www.texas*********[/url] that they are conducting clinical trials with artificial disk implant surgery - apparently it's been in practice in Europe for some time and is under study by the FDA. The TBI claims the major benefit over fusions are retained mobility. Seems like Fusions are temporary relief ultimately contributing to more disk degeneration above and below the fusion. - Does that make sense?

Thank you for taking time out to write me and pass on news that could potentially change my life. I hope the best for you.

Old 08-25-2004, 07:38 PM   #5
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Re: 20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

You and I are very similar. My Harrington rod is still in though. I had a fusion 22 years ago for scolios, I was 23. Had great results from my harrington rod. The body cast was fun back then, huh?

Anyway I was fused from T5 to T12. I developed "flatback" too. I also had hyperlordosis in the lumbar area and minor spondylolisthesis, and a disc bulge at L4/5. I started having referred back pain (in my sacro iliac joint) a couple of years ago. It kept gettin worse despite PT. I decided not to live on vicodin anymore.

I'm 5 weeks post op from a poster/anterior fusion L4 - S1. They replaced the discs with cadeaver bone and use something called BMP to help fusion.
It's all supposed to fuse into one mass of solid bone for a stable base for the rest of my spine. Below T5 I only have 3 unfused vertabrae.

I'm feeling pretty good. No cast or brace this time. But the home recovery time is longer. 7 weeks. Went back to work after 3 weeks last time. But heck, I'm 22 years older too .

That's my story for what's it's worth. If you have any questions, let me know. Nice to hear from an old harrington rod person.

Take Care,

APLIF T4-S1 on july 19, 2004
Harrington rod T5 - T12 1982

Old 08-26-2004, 06:22 AM   #6
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Re: 20 Years Later - Fusion T11-T12-L1 & Harrington Rods

Hi Ross!

Yes, I worry about the disc above and below my soon to be L4 L5 fusion. But, my doctor told me that they could go bad but there is obviously a chance that they will not or else he wouldn't recommend it. I trust his word, he is a top specialist in NYC and travels to other countries also. I can't do the ADR thing because...first of all, I just can't wait for will be about another year or two before it is FDA approved over here and then, insurance will not cover it due to it being experimental or whatever.
I have high hopes for this next surgery, I have to. I want my life back atleast for awhile.

There is a Dr. LaGrone in Texas somewhere who is a revision specialist. He is extremely reputable also. I know of people from NYC area who fly there to see him for opinions. Yes, I do know of many success stories where people have had their lordosis 'fixed' along with the flatback. It's not impossible!! I wish you all the best and if you have any other questions, just ask!!


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