Re: Post-Hardware Removal: Slow Recovery
Pebble, hope this helps answer your question. I first had a cervical anterior fusion for a couple of levels. This was followed by another anterior fusion and required hardware. Unfortunately, I had to have a third fusion and I switched docs. He had to remove part of the existing hardware for this and insert new hardware as the area now covered C 3,4,5,6,&7. There is a complication of spinal fusions called adjacent disc disease where a fusion redistributes the stress to the area above and below the fusion. In my case it made bad discs start impinging on nerves - hence the third surgery. THEN my cervicogenic headaches started to no longer be managed by non-invasive techniques and an "instrumentation block" demonstrated that the hardware rubbing against my muscles was indeed adding to (not the only) the problem. My surgeon explained that hardware often causes problems in the cervical spine and he has had to remove a lot in cases where the fusion is solid and no longer needed. In fact, I remember him warning of the potential for this before my last fusion. I think that WHERE the hardware is is a major part of the risk assessment. My brother in law has also has hardware removed successfully. They found an infection had burrowed in around his, neccesitating the removal. Don't forget you should always get second opinions, and maybe even a third. Ask your other docs for the name of a surgeon they trust and take all the records & films you can get your hands on. Although I am in great pain from complications, I know I had to have it removed if there is even a chance I will get some relief. Chronic pain can be a very lonely place to be. Please keep me/us posted & I will add you in my prayers!