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  • What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

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    Old 09-28-2012, 07:53 PM   #1
    WolfSoul
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    Question What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

    Hi. I had one of the first Harrington rods put in my spine for double major scoliosis in 1972. It's been 40 years and now I'm in excruciating pain. My specialist has diagnosed me with neurogenic claudication from complications of the harrington rod and/or hook. He is suggesting harrington rod removal surgery or clipping the rod. I have heard horror stories about harrington rod removal, with most saying it's much harder to take out than put in. Has anyone out here had their harrington rods removed and if so, what is the surgery like? What was your pain level? Recovery time??? etc. Any info will help me decide whether or not to agree to the surgery.
    thank you,
    wolf

     
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    Old 09-28-2012, 08:12 PM   #2
    cindygee
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    Re: What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WolfSoul View Post
    Hi. I had one of the first Harrington rods put in my spine for double major scoliosis in 1972. It's been 40 years and now I'm in excruciating pain. My specialist has diagnosed me with neurogenic claudication from complications of the harrington rod and/or hook. He is suggesting harrington rod removal surgery or clipping the rod. I have heard horror stories about harrington rod removal, with most saying it's much harder to take out than put in. Has anyone out here had their harrington rods removed and if so, what is the surgery like? What was your pain level? Recovery time??? etc. Any info will help me decide whether or not to agree to the surgery.
    thank you,
    wolf
    I hope you get some responses. It doesn't seem like much traffic in this board.

    I had my surgery done about the same time. I was having some issues about a year ago, and my doc was actually apologetic for that rod. I think there are seeing a lot of us 30-40 years later in pain. He coined it "flat back" syndrome, but in my case I learned recently that I have a genetic disorder & it was residual pain from a hip dislocation.

    My sister who had the same surgery is in constant pain. She was told by four docs that hers couldn't be removed. She just lives with the pain because she worried that she will become additive to pain killers.

    Best of luck.

    Cindy

     
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    Old 10-31-2012, 10:17 AM   #3
    BlueAtlas
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    Re: What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

    I had Harrington rods placed in 1977 and removed a year or so later. The doctors back then said if I were ever in an accident, it would be harder on me with all that metal in my back. I think, in retrospect, that the teaching hospital wanted their surgical residents to get some practice on me. My current surgeon, the best in the world, has told me that I would have been better off today if they hadn't done that. That's a long story. I had a second major fusion 6 years ago. One piece of the hardware projected through my crazy back (another long story, and not the surgeon's fault), and needed to be removed. Both hardware removals resulted in some issues. The first, the Harrington rods, resulted in an apparently nicked nerve. I had a completely numb spot on my back about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. It took quite some time, 7 or 8 years, but the nerve healed and I slowly got back complete feeling. The second removal resulted in nerve irritation into one hip and partly down that leg. It took a few months for that to settle down.

    Hardware removal surgery is rough because the hardware is embedded in the bone and has to be wrenched free. That's going to cause some tissue trauma. It may seem like a minor surgery compared to the fusion, but it's still going to take some serious recovery time. It IS a lot easier than the fusion, but you'll need to listen to your body and get a lot of extra rest so you can heal. I have no regrets, at least not with this last one. The first one was maybe not necessary; I'm not sure. But if it's important that you have this done, just be aware that you'll need to allow yourself time to heal. There are very good reasons to undergo the procedure, and that's between you and your doctor.

    I hope this helps.

    Emily

     
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    Old 11-26-2012, 09:13 PM   #4
    gracielu
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    Re: What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

    I had a more recent version of the Harrington Rods removed about 3.5 years ago. I had rapid progressive scoliosis, discovered too late for bracing (which I argue could have been slowed prior to the surgery when I was 16). The rods were fine the first 3 yrs, I was very active, rode horses; had a bad fall though and something happpened causing them to shift. For 3 years I told my surgeon something was wrong, I was in gradually worsening pain; but he told me that the xrays looked fine, things were in place. After having enough and not being able to get rid of the pain, I finally opted during graduate school summer break to get them removed. The excruciating pain in my upper back that I had had for 3 years was gone. Yes I was in pain (they did remove screws etc which is a major thing obviously) and had to take about 2.5 months of recovery with lifting restrictions post; but I don't regret getting them out (only falling off my horse and jarring the rods). Even the surgeon ended up agreeing with me as he found 13 bursae along the rods in my back, stating "no wonder you were in pain." So if you have enough pain to consider getting them removed I think it is worth it.
    Now 3 yrs later I stopped riding horses, however I am still rather active and have a moderately physically demanding job. As before, I have to watch what i do (still stupid at times). My quality of life now though is much better. I am not sure what my future holds regarding surgeries, pain etc since I am still relatively young.

     
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    Old 05-09-2017, 01:13 PM   #5
    Cuttlefische
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    Smile Re: What to expect of Harrington Rod Removal surgery

    Hi Wolf,
    I had a Harrington rod, wires etc grafted into my spine in the early 80's in Leicester. I developed severe pain that radiated from my left shoulder and all down my left side a few years later and x-rays revealed that the top of the rod where the ratchet mechanism is had snapped off and was moving about when I was working/driving etc.
    It took me several years and lots of scare stories and nonsense from so called spinal surgeons before I found someone with the skill and 'balls' to remove it for me.
    I had all of the metalwork removed and the bone grafts re-done in the old Norfolk and Norwich hospital (UK) by a chap called Dr Wilson Mcdonald.
    I recovered remarkably quickly and can't thank him enough. The pain, albeit after the surgical pain had subsided was massively improved.
    Since then I have become a master scuba diver - taught kick boxing - Jumped off the Sky Tower in Auckland NZ - Travelled the world - fathered 5 children - ride motorcycles etc.
    I must admit that now I am having a few problems again but after almost 30 years of living a 'normal life' thanks to the removal of the horrible Harrington rod.
    So my advice would be to find someone who knows what they are doing and get the metal removed and scrapped before it rusts away inside you.
    Hopefully you'll have a new lease of life with a lot less pain than before.
    I wish you luck - stick to your guns - it's your body and you should say what does or doesn't happen to it.

     
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