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removal of hardware / spine fusion T12 - L5

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Old 02-05-2010, 02:14 PM   #1
Kathy B
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removal of hardware / spine fusion T12 - L5

I have 2 rods & 12 screws T12-L5 fusion was done July 2002 at UCSF. I have an infection and Dr. says it's on the metal. So removal in needed. What should I expect? How is it done?

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Old 02-06-2010, 07:20 AM   #2
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Re: removal of hardware / spine fusion T12 - L5

It will be a whole lot easier than the original surgery!

I had a T4-L4 fusion in 1977. My doctor wanted to take the hardware out a year later. He said if I were ever in an accident it would be easier on me if I didn't have a lot of metal in my back. In 1997, I had a second fusion to go all the rest of the way down and also back up to re-fuse up to about T10. I had a problem with one piece of the hardware and had to have that one hook and part of a rod taken out.

Recovery will be about 6 weeks to 3 months. It may be less, depending on how much tissue trauma there is. That's the main recovery issue with hardware removal. Sometimes it's quite embedded in bone and has to be manipulated free. The surrounding tissues and sometimes nerves can be left with irritation and swelling that takes time to calm back down. I didn't feel awful, but I was trying to do too much. I thought that once the incision healed, I was basically all recovered and tried to get back into my regular activities. But I was tired and had pain that I didn't understand. My doctor explained all that I wrote above and told me to slow down for a while. And yes, he did keep me appropriately supplied with pain meds. My doctor is a gem! I just thought I shouldn't be having that pain, so it worried me.

You'll be okay. Just give yourself time to fully recover.

And welcome to the board!


Old 02-06-2010, 10:21 PM   #3
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Re: removal of hardware / spine fusion T12 - L5

Kathy, I'm having trouble too. No infection, just poor surgical procedure. I asked about removal of the rods and screws, and the advice that I received was a loud and clear universally agreed upon, "DON'T DO IT!" Can't they treat your problem with antibiotics? How about pain? I'm numb from just above the knees down all the way to my toes. Both legs. The legs don't hurt, but "Oh my aching back." If you want to chat, please feel free to do so. I'd welcome the company. Besides cheering each other up there might be a word or two of helpful advice. Be cool, Mike

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