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Old 01-19-2012, 10:33 AM   #1
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Flamommy2boys HB User
Broken fusion hardware

Hi thanks for reading..
I had the LAMI/fusion L5S1 almost 2 yrs ago July. After the operation at 3 wk checkup I told them that I was in excruciating worse pain. They said well take motrin you'll be fine. Three mth checkup he said you look fused good luck to you. Never heard from them again was referd. to pain MGMT. I told them I am in excruciating pain something isnt right after 6 months I left and just dealt with this. I have been in agony for almost 2 years daily/nightly. I beat myself up emotionally day after day because I figured that this is the norm deal with it.
I have felt suicidal at times because of the pain. I couldn't imagine another year or day or 10 years. I am a married stay at home mom two kids 2 dogs yadda yadda. Well, the other day I went to go to mailbox we live in the country so the walk down driveway is loooooong. I couldnt work my left leg at all because of the pain. I was crushed and furious with myself.
I called an ortho surgeon. After xrays he said 2 screws are broken and it looks like the previous surgeon did not screw left screw into my bone but the actual muscle next to it. So for 2 years I have been living like this. The new dr. says he can do endoscopic 45 min hardware removal (after confirmation ct scan) I'll go home next day and that it could relieve the pain. Which is top of both buttcheeks, numbness to tingling and burning but pain there always.
Sciatica down both legs sometimes at same time but mostly alternating but always there. Painful muscle spams in right calf on off always there(daily) it feels like someone charlie horsed my thigh or calf. My left hip outside burns so bad I stop when walking to catch breath and it travels to my outer left knee. I take nothing but motrin for pain and use chinagel to no avail.
I've given myself an ulcer from nsaid use. I don't know what to do I feel somewhat relieved to know I was NOT crazy these past 2 years but I'm just too worn out emotionally to even think. I am 36 mom to a 3 yr old. Hubby is a truck driver and home every 3-4 weeks for 3-4 days. He's furious with the Neurosrgn over this and I am just well over it all...Does anyone have advice on what possibly could be a good move ?

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Old 01-19-2012, 11:22 AM   #2
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Re: Broken fusion hardware

Welcome to the board. I'm sorry you have suffered for two years, but it looks like you may be able to get these issues resolved.

The first thing to look into is whether you are seeing an orthopedic SPINE surgeon as opposed to a regular orthopedic generalist, who works on bones in general, rather than only seeing patients with neck or back problems. Particularly after having had such a bad experience with the first surgeon, you want to be sure you are now choosing the best spine surgeon that is available to you.

If you then have a CT scan or MRI and it is determined that a revision surgery is appropriate, you will be able to move ahead. Hopefully in the two year interim you have not developed permanent nerve damage. Hopefully a fairly simple revision surgery will resolve your problems and you will finally be able to begin your healing and recovery.

Regarding the neurosurgeon, at this point you just need to move on with the new surgeon. If in the process of doing the revision surgery he finds something that was done improperly, you can then figure out what you want to do about it. But for now, you want to get your problem fixed. If a doctor perceives that a new patient is going to create nothing but problems, he will not be inclined to work with you...and many spine surgeons will not even take on a patient who has been operated on by another if I were you, I wouldn't do anything to rock the boat until after you have had surgery and feel your problems have been resolved.

At that point you can figure out if what the neurosurgeon did was medical malpractice, and if so, what you want to do about it.

For now, I would concentrate on checking out the new surgeon to be sure he is well-trained in spine surgery, that he has good experience and that you personally want to work with him...and then devote your energies to surgery and recovery, so, hopefully you can get your life back.

Good luck, and please let us know how you are doing.

Old 01-19-2012, 12:50 PM   #3
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Flamommy2boys HB User
Re: Broken fusion hardware

Thanks for the reply. That is exactly what I am feeling. Get good and don't think negatively. I will look into the new doc. It is a spine Institute (not the laser people).
Do you suppose the downtime will be as hard I hope not. I would be so happy to just feel minimized pain.

Old 01-19-2012, 08:27 PM   #4
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Re: Broken fusion hardware

When my fusion was revised, the surgeon ended up having to remove the screws because they were not compatible with the "new" hardware, but I also had two more levels added so I had a fairly typical recovery.

If the surgeon is only removing hardware and doing little else, people report that it is a much easier recovery. They are in the hospital a shorter time, and it is less painful because there isn't much bone work that needs to be done.

But until you know whether you have fused despite the hardware being in the wrong place, you won't know what the surgeon needs to do. If he doesn't have to perform surgery on adjacent levels, it should be an easier experience all the way around.

Old 01-29-2012, 06:35 PM   #5
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rainiermec HB User
Re: Broken fusion hardware

I had an L5-S1 three weeks ago and have been in terrible pain with a feeling of instability and "Popping" with any movement. I was told it was due to infection, did the antibiotics, no change other than swelling is less. My surgeon did not even use cages, he cut additional bone and hammered it in as he could not loosen the screws from my previous l4-l5 fusion. Since my first surgery in 2005 I have had another every two years since. It seems to be the point where people go to another doc and he "fixes" the previous error. The have never done anything for me until the two year point for some reason. Sorry I don't have a happy comment, but I do believe one fusion simply leads to either a revision or another level at the two year point.

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