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twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

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Old 03-22-2008, 03:53 PM   #1
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twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

Hi everyone!!! I saw my doctor a few days ago and got confirmation that I am doing really well, considering the trauma done to my back. Glad that he was pleased with my progress, you can imagine my surprise when he hinted around to possibly wanting to COMPLETELY REMOVE the hardware in my back!! I had heard of people having their hardware removed, but I didn’t even think it was an option for me – I just wasn’t expecting to hear this!!! Here I am almost completely PAIN FREE and we are talking about more surgery?? Before making any rash decisions…he wanted to review the operative report (notes from the surgery) and consult with the doctor who did the surgery in Georgia (accident and surgery in GA...i live in Florida). In his opinion, the type of hardware that was used on my back appears to be a temporary “fix”…the surgeon’s office in Georgia agrees. He said if the surgeon’s intent was to permanently fuse my thoracic spine, he would have individually fused each vertebrae - this would not allow me to ever move my back again in the thoracic area, which is already what I was expecting. Since I have 2 long rods fusing my back for now, his biggest reason for wanting to remove the hardware is because of the stress the hardware puts on the healthy vertebrae over time…especially since I am young and active…WITH TWINS! He also said I am a good candidate for hardware removal surgery, because of my age and good health. I would probably make a full recovery and have full motion in my back again. BUT we can’t make any decisions about further surgery until we have confirmation that the burst fracture has completely healed and the bone graft is a true success. I don’t think the damaged (fractured) vertebrae could support my spine without the hardware right now, so only time will tell. So for now, we won’t know the verdict about surgery until I have more CT Scans and X-Rays in the months to come. IF we decide to proceed with removing the hardware, it would be in the next 3-4 months. I was terrified sitting there in his office while he even mentioned the possibility. He said the procedure to remove the hardware only takes about 20 minutes, since the screws are threaded and come right out. And I would probably only stay in the hospital for 2 days. But most importantly, recovery will be nothing like what I experienced 4 months ago…still painful, but probably a breeze after what I have already been through. I see him again in a few months, so until then, I will stay in my back brace and keep praying that God will take care of me, no matter what is in store for me.

I am interested in any of your thoughts about Hardware Removal. Anyone have theirs removed after a multi-level fusion???

Be well,

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Old 03-22-2008, 04:37 PM   #2
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Re: twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

Hi Rebecca,
I've had two hardware removals, but my surgeries were complete fusions. I had a T4-L4 fusion 31 years ago and they went back in 2 years later and removed the rods and screws. 1 1/2 years ago I had another fusion, T10-Sacrum (yes, they overlapped), and 6 months ago I had just one piece removed, due to it protruding out of my back and being rather painful to lean back on.

My first hardware removal was done as an inpatient, but that was a long time ago. They do things differently now. This last one was done as an outpatient. I really thought it was going to be an easy surgery with minimal recovery time, but it was rather harder than that. My doctor wasn't at all surprised when I told him at my 1 month follow up that I was having a hard time. He said I needed to allow 3-6 months to recover completely from it, that it was very traumatic to the bone they took the hook out of, as well as the tissues surrounding it. He was right, it really did take that long. The nerve and tissue irritation is finally calming down, though I still have a problem in one hip that is either a result of the "trauma" he described or is completely coincidental, as it came about during the first days after the surgery.

If the two doctors are in agreement on this, it does make sense, the way you describe it. I'm surprised they want to do it so quickly, rather than waiting the traditional year, but as long as they know your spine can handle it.

I wish you the best!

Old 03-23-2008, 08:24 AM   #3
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Re: twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

I had my hardware removed (and it was a permanent type, not temp) in the Hospital. It was 2 more levels fused (above the original fusion) also. Surgery took 9 hours to do. It was other things done too, not only removal though.

My DR told me after first surgery that he is not planning removing my hardware unless I will develop serious problems, symptoms or bad pain.
He said why to look for trouble? The titaniums they use now not require removing it, so I did not have to worry about it.

Unfortunatelly I developed more problems than I anticipated after my first surgery, got to the point not be able to walk at all; 8 month later was diagnosed with failed surgery and had my second fusion 3 month ago.

I hope for only one thing: you A MUST go for second opinion. This is the key for making right decision. Make sure nobody is "knife happy" (unfortunatelly it happens, you know this too), you want to confirm your decision with a good DRs and if you need couple more opinions - you go for it, girl.
Many of us here do same thing in order to avoid wrong doing.

Good luck to you and I wish you the best!

Old 03-23-2008, 09:02 AM   #4
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Re: twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

I had a only one side of my hardware removed in late November 2007 because of added pain due to the hardware laying on a nerve. I also had other surgery done so my recovery is alot longer than yours.

When I had my surgery done I was warned that the vertebrae may shift and the fusion may fall apart. I was told ideally one should wait 12 to 18 months after surgery before considering having the hardware removed.

Good luck and I would definitely get as many opinions as you can.

Old 10-25-2011, 04:22 PM   #5
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Re: twins225 - 4 month post Fusion UPDATE - Hardware Removal???

I had a back fusion done on L2 & L3 in June 2011. I also contracted a staph infection at the same time. It almost killed me. I have hardware in my back and the infectious disease doctor wants me to take it out so that there won't be any chance of infection again. The spine doctor says I should not take out. The problem being that the infectious disease doctor wants me to take antibiotics for at lease 9 mos or the rest of my life and so far my body cannot tolerate the antibiotics that he has given me. I have terrible side effects from them to the point of wanting to kill myself. If I have the hardware removed will I have any problem or pain in my back or will everything be okay?

Last edited by chungoosh; 10-25-2011 at 04:23 PM.

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