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Old 11-07-2012, 04:12 PM   #1
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Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!

Hi folks,

I had a ACDF of C4- C7 back in 2008. It was successful and I healed/fused in less then six months. I was doing fine until about a few months ago when I started getting more neck pain. I now have a bulging disc between C7-T1. I'm not surprised by this, I knew it would one day be an issue. I will need another fusion.

But here is my question. I saw the neurosurgeon and he wants to remove my hardware from C4-c7 as I am fully fused, and then he is going to use hardware to fuse just one level from c7- t1.
The rational being that I don't need the hardware and he needs the room to put hardware in the affected level below.

Has anyone had this experience? have you had your hardware removed, not cause of issues like broken hardware or a fusion that didn't take, but because of a space issue? I'm kinda worried about having this removed, will my fusion from c4-7 be okay with out it? I'm kinda attached to my hardware (cheap joke)

Any experience you could share would be greatly appreciated.
Elayne

 
Old 11-08-2012, 06:36 AM   #2
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Re: Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!

I'm not sure how common it is to remove hardware in the cervical area but it is done all the time in the lumbar area. If the person is actually fused, it makes no difference.

I was fused at L4-L5. At the time, several surgeons told me I needed a 3 level surgery, but even more surgeons told me I required a one level surgery. I decided to go for the one level, but it never resolved my pain, so two years later I had surgery to fuse from L3- S1.

The surgeon's plan was to leave the original hardware, but when he got in there, he discovered the screws were not compatible...so he removed the hardware (which I now keep on my desk -- looks just like it came from Ace Hardware store) then inserted new pedicle screws and longer rods.

The point of hardware is to stabilize the area while it heals...since it can't be put in a cast the way you'd treat a broken leg or arm. It is not intended to hold the spine together forever. It is usually left in because there is no point in putting the patient under the stress of another anesthesia to remove it...but it serves no purpose after the bone has set up.

In your case, the surgeon will remove the hardware and just put in hardware at the new level. That should work out just fine as the segments above it are now a solid chunk of bone and won't be moving anywhere.

 
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:47 PM   #3
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Re: Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!

Thank you for your response. It makes sense. I guess I just alway thought I would have my plate and four screws in for my lifetime. It's a relief to know that hardware can come out and the fusion is still okay. Hmm I wond if I should ask for my hardware, it would really gross out my husband. lol!

 
Old 11-09-2012, 09:28 AM   #4
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Re: Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!

I'm not sure what cervical screws look like, as mine are for lumbar area...but it is really fun to have. When they give it to you, it is all sparkly clean and sanitized and it is a great conversation starter!

Right after my surgery, when I was well enough to go out, I still had the little container in my purse, and had actually forgotten all about it. People hadn't seen me and wanted to know about my surgery...so, I pulled out the screws. I'm sure it changed all their opinions of spine surgery...they couldn't believe how big the screws were!

It was fun -- in a strange way!

 
Old 11-09-2012, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!

yeah I think it would be niffy to have my old hardware. I'm a nurse and that stuff doesnt bother me. But I think my hubby would faint. When I showed him my ray for my neck and you could see the hard ware nicely on the screen I swear I saw him turn green

 
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