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Fusion Hardware Removal (Page 1)

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My neurosurgeon has recommeded tha I remove the hardware from my fusion at L5S1. I had this fusion 14 years ago and am worried about the complications possible from removal. I am also not sure if I will benefit in tems of reduced pain. Suffering from severe lower back pain & sciatic in right leg.
Can anyone share their experience or thoughts?

Mary C
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First Helper shep2029
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replied February 11th, 2008
Experienced User
Consider an injection of the hardware as it goes into the bone. If you get reduction in pain, one study shows there is at least a 2/3 chance you will receive long term pain relief after hardware removal.
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replied June 15th, 2011
Here it is neary 2 years later. I hope you get this! Can you cite the study so I can print it out for my doc? I want a diagostic hardware injection and doc is reluctant.
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replied March 3rd, 2012
I see most posts are over 3 years old but just to be able to get this out and read stories from others are helpful. I had S1 L5 fusion in April 11. Up to that point I was in extreme pain but only in spurts. After the fusion surgery on 19 Apr 2011 I have been in constant pain and now I have been told the pain in due to the hardware in my back. Going back in on 23 Mar to have the hardware removed. Scared since the initial fusion was the most painful thing I have done in life but excited since I have a 3 and 4 year old I want to get on the floor and play with too. I think my wife thinks I am exagerating the pain and my complaints are starting to fall on deaf or numb ears so I am hoping this helps! Will let you know how things go.
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replied March 28th, 2012
Hardware Removal
I feel your pain. I have severe back pain since 1993. Jan 2000 i had the fusion surgery. After the surgery the pain intensified to a chronic aching pain in my lower lumbar region. May 2010 I had the spunal stimulator inserted. For 2 months I thought it was a mircle and pain free. Well at the end of my 2nd month pain free it slowly came back day by day. Then the pain was worse than before the stimullator. I had it all injections, therapy, accupuncture you name it I had it. Ive been on pain meds since June 1999. The pain meds just help me to function.
It is March 2012 and I contacted my surgeon to ask his oppinion on the Hardware removal.
Also my back is in so much pain that I have high blood pressure. I have a 8 yr old daughter and I cannot do things with her because if the pain.

If anyone has had the hardware removed please email me
I would appreciate the info if it helped.
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replied April 7th, 2012
Hardware removed
Hi. I had my hardware removed to due constant pain, leg pain and numbness, and foot drop four days ago. So far I am in a lot of pain from the surgery, but I still have pain, numbness, and tingling in my leg and foot. Foot is also still dropping. I will try to keep you updated.
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replied April 30th, 2012
I can relate completely! I had a 2 level fusion in August 2009,it took until just now and a failed spinal stimulator surgery for the Dr to figure out why Ive been in so much pain since my 2 level spinal fusion. I have L4-5 and L-5 S-1 fused. We found out that I have a metal allergy,and the reason why Ive been in such severe pain,is that my body has been reacting to the metal this whole time.I will be undergoing the surgery on June 5th to get the 6 screws and 2 rods taken out.Would have been sooner,but my Grandma had passed away and I have to travel for her memorial on May 20th. I have a 3 & 5 year old,and I know how it feels as well about the complaints falling on deaf ears,especially frustrating since my husband was driving the vehicle when we got into the accident,resulting in me suffering like this for the rest of my life *sigh* I saw your similar story,and just had to comment! I hope that your surgery went well,and if you get this,I really hope that you can update me and let me know what happened,and what I can expect? I'm really nervous! I'm so tired of surgeries. I had the stimulator implant July of 11,then the ex-plant Nov 11,and now this coming up. Ready to be done! Smile Im hoping this will give me my life back and I can run around and have fun with my kiddos again!
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replied June 6th, 2013
Bekah, how did your surgery go? I am in the exact same boat as you, 2 level with 6 screws and 2 rods. I am going in for a consultation in 2 weeks. I'm curious to hear how you are doing! Thanks, Tod
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replied July 7th, 2013
Sounds familiar. How did everything go?
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replied July 29th, 2012
Some days, I feel like ripping the hardware out of my neck! It is literally driving me crazy.

I am not sure I can have mine removed as I had 4 levels fused in my neck. This was after the first 2 level fusion FELL APART. The screws popped off and the plate did as well. Nobody would LISTEN TO ME. They all think I was just being a whiner. FINALLY I convinced my primary car doctor that I was dieing and he linked me to another neurosurgeon who is one of the top 5 in the US.

He goes in to fuse the 2 levels above and then he discovered that I was right the whole time. It did NOT show up in the MRI, so people if your fusion is really bothering you, KEEP on complaining!
MRI's are not 100% perfect...no test it. The doctor that did the Radio frequency on my neck said: "I do not treat MRI's, I treat people.

The RF did help. but I still FEEL THE HARDWARE, and it is not something I think I can endure forever.
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replied October 30th, 2012
Hi Seahawksfan
I really hope you're still around to finish your tale. I'm interested in your experience - recovery time, relief, stuff like that.

I had a fusion (L5/S1) in May '11. The original pain was replaced by a profound aching type of pain at the incision site. In March '12 I was scheduled to have a partial laminectomy at L4/S1 and the hardware removed from the fusion removed. Despite the CT showing a viable fusion the surgeon found movement there and so was unable to take out the hardware. After my recovery I was back to the same pain levels I described before.

Curiously, the pain isn't constant, first thing in the morning it is really muted and then it grows substantially as the day progresses: I start the day on half a Norco and finish it on Percocet. Yet the site of the pain has none of the warmth associated with inflammation.

Anyway, here in October 30th, I'm a week away from the 2nd attempt to remove the hardware. I count down the days. We aren't certain it will do the trick but it seems the best hope.
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replied November 30th, 2012
Removed implants
Hi

I had surgery three weeks ago to remove two lots of fusion from T1 to L1. Two Surgeons gave me a 50/50 on recovery given a review of x-rays. I have normal surgery pain and muscle soreness due to not being used, however I'm relieved with the extra movement (such a relief). I know it's early days and I have a long journey, but it was amazing after just 12 hours from surgery I could shower. My reasons to have the implants moved was for a better life, and a reduction in discomfort. I went in to the surgery with very real expectations, that is to have better movement and at minimum be the same with the past discomfort. Fingers crossed, so far so good.

I wouldn't be afraid of the surgery, it's all over in 1.5 hours or a quick sleep. It's more the outcome. I will have surgery again should I end up worse off.

Cheers Stu
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replied January 10th, 2013
Hardware removal
Did removing the hardware help at all?
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replied February 11th, 2008
Removal of Fusion Hardware, 14 years old
Thanks so much for the reply. What type of injection are you referring to. This is all new to me!

Mary C
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replied February 11th, 2008
Experienced User
Usually a local anesthetic injection placed through a small diameter needle (usually 22 or 25 gauge) under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance..... Pain physicians can do this kind of injection.
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replied February 12th, 2008
Removal of Fusion Hardware, 14 years old
Thanks so much. I'll look into this for sure.
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replied February 12th, 2008
Active User, very eHealthy
Mary C:

I'm getting a facet joint injection tomorrow (my 14th injection since 2000). The procedure is non-invasive and it can relieve pain for up to six months. The fluoroscopic guidance helps the doctor to find the correct location. There are several different types of injections, so check it out.
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replied September 30th, 2013
Faucet joint injections ARE invasive procedures and the steroids they use are not approved by the FDA for spinal injections.

DO NOT DO NOT, have ANY spinal injections without researching arachnoiditis which is caused by spinal injections and myelograms.

The American Spinal Society does not recommend over three injections as they have found that it is not an effective treatment and the side effects such as scarring and aracnoiditis is not worth it.

ANY ANY puncture into the body is an invasive procedure and it should not be done lightly. Just as algosdoc says it is invasive and I know these are old posts but if someone comes here like I did they should know about the side effects that are irreversable.
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replied February 13th, 2008
Experienced User
The reason for pains may not be in spine...
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replied February 13th, 2008
Experienced User
Facet blocks are typically not useful at the level of a fusion because there is very little motion about that segment. Above and below the fusion, injections into the facets may be useful. Facet injections are invasive...they involve placement of a needle 2-3 inches below the skin, but they are minimally invasive.

There may indeed be other causes other than spinal...
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replied December 11th, 2009
hardware removal from T4 down to bottom of spine
I have had 3 surgeries, I am fused from T4 all the way down with 20 screws and 2 rods. I have not had a day since the 3rd surgery without horrible pain from where a bra strap would be up into my neck. I am on morphine,percocet,lorazapam,etc. etc. nothing helps the pain. I cannot sleep because the screws wake me up at the slightest move. Now, the doctors say I should have all of the hardware removed. I am frightened that I will end up in worse shape than I am now. Has anyone had this much instrumentaion removed from them
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replied January 17th, 2010
Hardware Removal-In so much pain after many spinal fusions
OMG, I am in the same situation and welcome your comments and advice. I had 2 Harrington Rod fusions in the 80's when I was young. I am now 47 and have 3 total spinal fusions in 5 years, last one 3 yrs ago. Total rehab 1st year; for 2 years now I have been active,healthy and on a lite exercise program. For the last month, I cannot stand up, move, work, I lay in pain moaning. My surgeon has kept me waiting for 1 mth for an appt - I see him tomorrow but he told me last time there's not much more else he can do for me. The latest pain happened over night and I have been immobilized for a month. My rods and screws have always bothered me, but I'm a fighter and just kept trying to live. Have you had your surgery, hardware removed? I'm frightened too for another surgery, but don't think it could get any worse. Also, I've been to other drs and when they look at my x-rays, they don't even want to touch me. Help!
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replied January 18th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
hi
all i can suggest is dont give up looking for the surgeon who can help. ...pete
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replied February 2nd, 2010
Hardware removal
Where are you located? I suggest that you visit the closest major medical center associated with a medical school such as UCSF, Stanford, or the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, etc. This will give you access to a team of specialists who will work together to address the different areas - orthopedics, neurology, pain management, rehabilitation and psychological support as well. You'll also have access to the latest technology and treatment by experienced surgeons.
While many of the posters offered helpful information, each situation is so unique that it's best to find a specialist that you feel comfortable with and is willing to work with you to help you understand what your current problems are and what the current treatment options are. Your current pain may be unrelated to the original problems that required surgery.
I had a problem with painful hardware following a successful fusion. The pain was intolerable and stopped after the hardware was removed but before operating, several diagnostic tests and injections were done to see if the hardware was the issue.
Good luck.
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replied February 10th, 2010
removal of spinal hardware after surgery
i am 55, and used to be active (hunt, fish, play golf, etc., and also have 7 grandchildren. i had 4 levels fused in 2003, and am almost crazy now because i am so tired of the pain from the screws, rods, etc. i am on pain medication which only helps temporarily, and am thinking about having all hardware removed, but am totally scared. my back surgery was the most painful thing i ever went through, and i'm not a wimp. i know my husband is tired of hearing me complain, but is also very understanding. not sure which way to go, but am also scared of the injections, and what type of results they offer. please share.
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replied December 9th, 2011
Removal Of Hardware
Hi. I am 19 years old and after a near death car accident I had to have 4 levels in the lumber area fused. That was Feb of this year (2011). I was also very active, routine gym go-er, ballet dancer, I was very active and toned. I can appreciate where you are coming from, no one seems to understand how painful a spine operation is!

It has been nearly one year since the op, and I am in so much pain (around the fusion) that I have decided to have the instrumentation removed. I go into theater on Monday am.

So we will see whether that provides any relief hey! But I fully understand where you are coming from... My surgeon said there's a 50/50 chance that it will relieve the pain. At this stage,I will do anything.

All the best!

Natalie
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replied January 10th, 2013
Did removing the hardware help at all?
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replied February 10th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
i believe the dr injects a painkiller into your back at the location of the hardware to see if it is in fact the hardware causing the pain. if it is the hardware the pain should be relieved by the injection and then you will know ahead of time what it will feel like with it removed. i see nothing to lose by having the test....pete
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replied February 22nd, 2010
I had 2 rods and 8 screws inserted at L-1 when a car ran over me, totally (exploding) the L-1 vertabrae. That was in Aug of '06....my neurosurgeon did not provide me with any P.T. as I had no Insurance at the time. He also told me the hardware would be there the rest of my life. I kind of "gave up" and became very sendendary for past 3 yr's. Am almost 62 now, and have been to another neurosurgeon that stated the hardware can come out. My pain seems to be coming from a muscle, instead of bone, as only time it bothers me bad, is when I am on my feet longer than 10 min. I have "given" in to the pain, and walk somewhat "bent over" and can not lift and stand with more than 5 lbs. I am afraid of the removal as do not want to go through all the pain, braces, and walkers again. Anyone know anything about the removal of the hardware?, and recovery?? Thanks, tired of not being able to be active anymore. Or have I waited too long? I have tried to get one on one p.t. to stenghten the muscle in my back that caused the pain, but am afraid that I will mess up the hardware. Also one of my screws is broken mid shaft in the bone, due to a roll-over accident 13 mo. after intial accident.
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replied January 10th, 2013
It sounds like you need to get yourself to good surgeon and get the screws removed, provided the fusion is solid and strong. I dont think you would have to wear the back brace again. Exercising the muscles lightly is very important. I especially like standing exercises where I stand/balance on one foot and/or slowly bob up and down on it by bending the knee slightly until tired.
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replied February 22nd, 2010
Removing hardware from back
Thank you so much for the reply Fran, actually, do have an appt with Pain clinic shortly...will give that a "a shot" "no pun intended".. I was more concerned with the "recovery period" of having the hardware removed. I live in an area, where there are few specilists, and so far, have not been pleased with most of those I have seen. However am in process of seeking out new one. Thank you again!! ~TBG~
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replied March 16th, 2010
Hardware removal after back fusion
I am 36 and I just went in last Monday to get the injection around the hardware to see if it would relieve any of the pain. I had a L5/S1 fusion with the cage done about 10 months ago and had a different pain after the surgery then before. After the injection I noticed about a 80% relief in the pain, I am scheduled to go in tomorrow morning to have the hardware removed and I can't wait. I would say for anyone having pain, go get the shot form your doctor, it doesn't hurt to see if it will help. I know it helped me out and my hardware will be gone in the morning...
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replied April 2nd, 2011
To Chasecasey...hardware removal after spinal fusion
Would love to know how you are feeling now that you had the hardware removed last year. I totally related to your posting!! Almost one year ago I had a double fusion on L4/L5 and L5/S1. It was by far the worst pain ever! And like you, after surgery, the pain is different, but still dibilitating!! I tried to have the injection, but passed out from anxiety - the Dr. asked if I had any relief, because he was able to use some novicane, and I did for about 30 minutes. He said that the surgeon was probably right, and that removing the hardware would probably help. I am terrified, and would love to know how you are doing, and if you are glad you made the decision. Thanks, and hope you are doing fantastic!! T.H.
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replied January 10th, 2013
Do you feel better now that you have had your hardware removed?
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replied April 28th, 2010
Hardware Removal
I had a fusion of the L5/S1 in July 2010 and although the pain in the leg is gone I now have significant pain in my back which seems to be coming from either a muscle or the hip. Also I have lots of pain from the screws in my back. My doctor wants to take out the screws this summer, he say''s it will elimate the pain. Has anyone had their''s removed yet? Chasecasey, is see you were scheduled not to long ago, I hope all is well for you. You and I could be twins, same age, about same date of surgery and same type of surgery; I''m praying for you.
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replied August 2nd, 2012
hip and muscle pain from hardware
Hi, I am feeling pain from my L5/S1 Fusion from Dec 2011. I see you had back muscle pain and hip pain. I am having pain all on the right side especially from my hip to spine. I just went and met with a new pain specialist who is going to try nerve block and possibly a nerve burn in that area. I never thought that the hardware could possibly be causing any of this nagging pain! Did you complain to your neurosurgeon about your pain or did you go to a pain specialist?

Julie
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replied January 10th, 2013
I have the same kind of pain on the right side from my spine to my hip. How do you know that your pain is from the screws? Are you planning to get them removed once your fusion is solid?
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replied May 2nd, 2010
operation to remove hardware after decompression and spinal fusi
I had an L4L5 decompression and spinal fusion in July 2007 the fusion has failed and is causing the most severe pain in my back,buttocks,hips,thighs,legs and most of all my feet and toes the specialist that Iam seeing now has informed me that my back is infected and I now have to have the hardware removed as the first part of a further 3 or 4 operations to fused L2L3 L5S1 and of course to get rid of the infection.The surgeon that carried out the first operation should have known this was the case over 18 months ago and saved me from such severe pain for nearly 3 years. I can just barely walk with my tripod walker and have taken thousands of some of the strongest pain killers known in the three years.How easy is it to remove this hardware and is it as painful as the first operation.I am so very very worried about this can anyone give me some advice,my operation is in june2010
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replied May 2nd, 2010
Chase...and audieda1319 how are you doing? I am looking at having my spinal instrumentation removed...your level was the same as mine. I hope you got the relief you wanted. Hoping to hear good news from you.
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replied May 22nd, 2011
I had lumbar hardware removal
Chase and audieda1319, I had my hardware removed 6 days ago. This doc saved all my screws and rods because he couldn't believe how bulky they were for my frame. The right rod was in direct contact with my L4 facet joint and had grown bone in response to that. The right side pain is gone. The muscle pain is more significant since they really had to stretch the left side to get at the correct angle to remove screws. The rep had not seen this prototype used before...interesting. I do have swelling and pain over my drain site...I think the drain was pulled too early. Where is all that bloody fluid going? I pray with another week, I will give this decision a two thumbs up...not quite there yet! All my best to the two of you!
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replied May 27th, 2011
hardware removal
Please keep us posted on your recovery. My husband has his scheduled to come out in late June. We hope we are doing the right thing.
tj
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