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Old 06-30-2003, 02:01 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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AmyVirginia HB User
Red face Titanium Plate removal????

I'm confused - I read on this board that someone had their "hardware" removed after they fused. Does this mean that the titanium plate is removed after you fuse????
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Old 06-30-2003, 02:14 PM   #2
ajfinsand
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The purpose of the titanium plate (or 12" rods and screws in my case) is to provide stability (prevent any movement) to the are that is being fused. Think of it as a 'splint' that is applied to a broken finger.....just there to keep things immobile until the bone heals. Same thing. Some people have adverse reactions to the titanium plates or other hardware causing irritation and inflamation, and thereby PAIN, to the surrounding tissue and muscles, which necessitates it's removal once fusion is complete. After you have fused the plate is no longer needed becasue the bone is solid and can no longer move. If you don't have any problems with the plate being left in then they just leave it in to avoid another surgery.

aj in Oregon



------------------
~ 48 year old female; currently self-employed as an artist/designer/woodcrafter.
~ Previously worked in the restaurant biz for 27 years (not so good for someone with a bad back!)
~ Hereditary and congenital scoliosis, but it never caused any problems until I was 40+ years old.
~ 76 degree curvature had increased 2 degrees in two years 1999-2001; indicating surgery was necessary.
~ Surgery in March of 2001.
~ Fusion and insturmentation of C7 - T9.
~ Fourth rib removed; 5th and 6th rib cut back halfway; removed ribs were morselized and used for the grafting, plus additional bone harvested from hip.
~ After tthe hardware was attached, spine was straigntened 20+ degrees.
~ 2 weeks in the hospital.
~ Brace worn for five months. Bone growth stimulator device also worn several hours per day.
~ PT 5 mos. after surgery caused increased pain.
~ Follow-up surgery to remove hardware scheduled for Feb. 2002.
~ Round 2 of PT 2 mos. after hardware removal.
~ Medically released to return to full activity in July 2002.
~ Increased pain upon returning to regular work schedule.
~ Round 3 of PT in April/May 2003; continually increasing pain.

 
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:15 PM   #3
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AmyVirginia HB User
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Ummm...that's about all I can say. I was NEVER told this by my Dr. The more I learn and experience after my surgery, seems there are a lot of things I wasn't told about. Maybe because I was in shock and the surgery happened so fast that I didn't want to know. I did research the surgery to some exent, but now I am finding out new things all the time. I am thin, and the plate does bother me. I am 7 weeks post op, it could just still be imflammed a little. If I am lying down and turn a certain way, I can feel the plate against my esophogus. Still have some trouble swallowing. This is the 1st I have heard about removng the plate. But I won't worry about that until I fuse. I also heard that if you don't fuse they have to go in again?

Thanks for the info...
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:32 PM   #4
ajfinsand
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My doc didn't say anything to me about the possibility of ever having to remove the hardware either. And I DID ask a lot of questions! I tried to research my surgery on the internet, but couldn't find ANY info on a procedure as extensive as mine, so he was my only source of information. He didn't bring up the fact that it needed to be removed until I began to have problems with it. My disability attorney told me that on the majoriyt of fusion cases he handles that more often then not the hardware does need to be removed.

As for the fusion taking, if you are not a smoker, and don't do anything to pull on the area that has been fused, you should fuse just fine. If there are any specific factors working against you as far as fusing goes, ask your doctor about a 'bone growth stimulator device'.

Hang in there.....your just beginning the healing process.

aj in Oregon

 
Old 06-30-2003, 03:46 PM   #5
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Posts: 42
AmyVirginia HB User
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Thanks A.J.!

Like I said I'll worry about that later if I need to. I do smoke, and I have a PhysioStim I have to wear 3 hours a day for 6 months, well 4 to go now. It's not a small device as I have read that some wear on this board.. Mine resembles something a race car driver would put on for protection before his helmet. He said even if I quit smoking I would still need to wear it as I have been smoking awhile. I have cut back, but can't seem to QUIT!!!! I am still on pain meds, (8 weeks post) how long did you need them??

Amy
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Old 06-30-2003, 06:40 PM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Flagstaff, AZ. USA
Posts: 422
Catherine with a C HB User
Talking

Hi Amy,
First of all "Welcome to the Boards!"

I by no means want to undermine your statement that you feel your plate~~~~~~but are you sure that that is what it is?

I too had the thought that I could feel mine; my Dr. reassured me that you cannot!! He suggested that what I was probably feeling was scar tissue.
sometimes, it felt like I had swallowed a button.

Eventually, around the 2 to 2 1/2 month mark, after some PT---the feeling dissipated & is now gone.
I truly hope that is what you are feeling.

Hope you have some relief soon.
Until later,
take care.

Catherine


 
Old 07-02-2003, 10:03 AM   #7
ajfinsand
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Amy,

I was on pain meds for five months after my surgery, but it is HALF the length of my spine that has been fused; and on top of being fused my spine was straightened by 30 degrees and I had three of my ribs hacked off.

I'm glad your doc has you using the bone growth stimulator. Be sure to use it religiously, especially sice you are a smoker. Mine was a huge thing that wrapped around my entire torso that I had to wear on top of my brace which went from pelvis to my neck. I could barely walk when I had all my 'gear' on!

I found the best thing for helping with my pain was ice. I layed on the ice gel packs as much as possible.

love and prayers,

aj in Oregon



------------------
~ 48 year old female; currently self-employed as an artist/designer/woodcrafter.
~ Previously worked in the restaurant biz for 27 years (not so good for someone with a bad back!)
~ Hereditary and congenital scoliosis, but it never caused any problems until I was 40+ years old.
~ 76 degree curvature had increased 2 degrees in two years 1999-2001; indicating surgery was necessary.
~ Surgery in March of 2001.
~ Fusion and insturmentation of C7 - T9.
~ Fourth rib removed; 5th and 6th rib cut back halfway; removed ribs were morselized and used for the grafting, plus additional bone harvested from hip.
~ After tthe hardware was attached, spine was straigntened 20+ degrees.
~ 2 weeks in the hospital.
~ Brace worn for five months. Bone growth stimulator device also worn several hours per day.
~ PT 5 mos. after surgery caused increased pain.
~ Follow-up surgery to remove hardware scheduled for Feb. 2002.
~ Round 2 of PT 2 mos. after hardware removal.
~ Medically released to return to full activity in July 2002.
~ Increased pain upon returning to regular work schedule.
~ Round 3 of PT in April/May 2003; continually increasing pain.

 
Old 07-02-2003, 11:21 AM   #8
Senior Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 959
winged phantom HB User
Post

Hi Amy,
I was going to say the same thing about scar tissue likely to be the culprit... but there are bizarre cases of screws coming loose and sticking out and catching on tissues; and of course if all the screws are loose enough, the plate can also stick out. Oh, and my doctor also told me you can probably not even really see the plate by now without cutting into all the scar tissue, because the body's first instinct is to cover it over (the plate is a foreign object, but it's used because it is not usually "rejected" by the body). If you are sure you are feeling really strange stuff, insist on an x-ray, although your doctor should be ordering one pretty soon, I would think, to check on your fusion progress (I had one at 6 weeks post op).
wr

------------------
  • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
  • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone
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  • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
  • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone

 
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