Spinal instrumentation





Definition

Spinal instrumentation is a method of keeping the spine rigid after spinal fusion surgery by surgically attaching hooks, rods, and wire to the spine in a way that redistributes the stresses on the bones and keeps them in proper alignment while the bones of the spine fuse.


Purpose

Spinal instrumentation is used to treat instability and deformity of the spine. Instability occurs when the spine no longer maintains its normal shape during movement. Such instability results in nerve damage, spinal deformities, and disabling pain. Scoliosis (scoliosis) is a side-to-side spinal curvature. Kyphosis is a front-to-back curvature of the upper spine, while lordosis is an excessive curve of the lower spine. More than one type of curve may be present.


Demographics

Spinal deformities may be caused by:

  • birth defects
  • fractures
  • Marfan syndrome
  • neurofibromatosis
  • neuromuscular diseases
  • severe injuries
  • tumors
  • idiopathic scoliosis (Idiopathic scoliosis is scoliosis of unknown origin. About 85% of cases occur in girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who are experiencing adolescent growth spurt.)

Description

Spinal instrumentation provides a stable, rigid column that encourages bones to fuse after spinal fusion surgery. Its purpose is to aid fusion. Without fusion, the metal will eventually fatigue and break, and so instrumentation is not itself a treatment for spine deformity.

Different types of spinal instrumentation are used to treat different spinal problems. Although the details of the insertion of rods, wires, screws, and hooks vary, the purpose of all spinal instrumentation is the same—to correct and stabilize the backbone while the bones of the spine fuse. The various instruments are all made of stainless steel, titanium, or titanium alloy.

The oldest form of spinal instrumentation is the Harrington rod. While it was simple in design, it required a long period of brace wearing after the operation, and did not allow segmental adjustment of correction. The Luque rod was developed to avoid the long postoperative bracing period. This system threads wires into the space within each vertebra. The risk of injury to the nerves and spinal cord is higher than with some other forms of instrumentation. Cotrel-Dubousset instrumentation uses hooks and rods in a cross-linked pattern to realign the spine and redistribute the biomechanical stress. The main advantage of Cotrel-Dubousset instrumentation is that because of the extensive cross-linking, the patient may not have to wear a cast or brace after surgery. The disadvantage is the complexity of the operation and the number of hooks and cross-links that may fail.

Several newer systems use screws that are embedded into the portion of the vertebra called the pedicle. Pedicle screws avoid the need for threading wires, but carry the risk of migrating out of the bone and contacting the spinal cord or the aorta (the major blood vessel exiting the heart). During the late 1990s, pedicle screws were the subject of several high-profile lawsuits. The controversies have since subsided, and pedicle screws remain an indispensible part of the spinal instrumentation. Many operations today are performed with a mix of techniques, such as Luque rods in the lower back and hooks and screws up higher. A physician chooses the proper type of instrumentation based on the type of disorder, the age and health of the patient, and the physician's experience.

The surgeon strips the tissue away from the area to be fused. The surface of the bone is peeled away. A piece of bone is removed from the hip and placed along side the area to be fused. The stripping of the bone helps the bone graft to fuse.

After the fusion site is prepared, the rods, hooks, screws, and wires are inserted. There is much variation in how this is done based on the spinal instrumentation chosen. Once the rods are in place, the incision is closed.


Diagnosis/Preparation

Spinal fusion with spinal instrumentation is major surgery. The patient will undergo many tests to determine the nature and exact location of the back problem. These tests are likely to include

  • x rays
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • computed tomography scans (CT scans)
  • myleograms

In addition, the patient will undergo a battery of blood and urine tests, and possibly an electrocardiogram to provide the surgeon and anesthesiologist with information that will allow the operation to be performed safely. In Harrington rod instrumentation, the patient may be placed in traction or an upper body cast to stretch contracted muscles before surgery.


Aftercare

After surgery, the patient will be confined to bed. A catheter is inserted so that the patient can urinate without getting up. Vital signs are monitored, and the patient's position is changed frequently so that bedsores do not develop.

Recovery from spinal instrumentation can be a long arduous process. Movement is severely limited for a period of time. In certain types of instrumentation, the patient is put in a cast to allow the realigned bones to stay in position until healing takes place. This can be as long as six to eight months. Many patients will need to wear a brace after the cast is removed.

During the recovery period, the patient is taught respiratory exercises to help maintain respiratory function during the time of limited mobility. Physical therapists assist the patient in learning self-care and in performing strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. Length of hospital stay depends on the age and health of the patient, as well as the specific problem that was corrected. The patient can expect to remain under a physician's care for many months.


Risks

Spinal instrumentation carries a significant risk of nerve damage and paralysis. The skill of the surgeon can affect the outcome of the operation, so patients should look for a hospital and surgical team that has a lot of experience doing spinal procedures.

Since the hooks and rods of spinal instrumentation are anchored in the bones of the back, spinal instrumentation should not be performed on people with serious osteoporosis. To overcome this limitation, techniques are being explored that help anchor instrumentation in fragile bones.

After surgery there is a risk of infection or an inflammatory reaction due to the presence of the foreign material in the body. Serious infection of the membranes covering the spinal cord and brain can occur. In the long term, the instrumentation may move or break, causing nerve damage and requiring a second surgery. Some bone grafts do not heal well, lengthening the time the patient must spend in a cast or brace or necessitating additional surgery. Casting and wearing a brace may take an emotional toll, especially on young people. Patients who have had spinal instrumentation must avoid contact sports, and, for the rest of their lives, eliminate situations that will abnormally put stress on their spines.

Normal results

Many young people with scoliosis heal with significantly improved alignment of the spine. Results of spinal instrumentation done for other conditions vary widely.


Morbidity and mortality rates

Mortality rate for spinal fusion surgery is less than 1%. Neurologic injury may occur in 1–5% of cases. Delayed paralysis is possible but rare.


Alternatives

Not all patients require instrumentation with their spinal fusion. For some patients, a rigid external brace can provide the required rigidity to allow the bones to fuse.


Resources

BOOKS

"Cotrel-Dubousset Spinal Instrumentation." In Everything You Need to Know About Medical Treatments. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1996.

"Harrington Rod." In Everything You Need to Know About Medical Treatments. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1996.

ORGANIZATIONS

National Scoliosis Foundation. 5 Cabot Place, Stoughton, MA 020724. (800) 673-6922. http://www.scoliosis.org

OTHER

Orthogate [cited July 1, 2003]. http://owl.orthogate.org/ .


Tish Davidson, A.M. Richard Robinson

WHO PERFORMS THE PROCEDURE AND WHERE IS IT PERFORMED?



Spinal instrumentation is performed by a neurosurgical and/or orthopedic surgical team with special experience in spinal operations. The surgery is done in a hospital under general anesthesia. It is done at the same time as spinal fusion.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR



  • What types of instrumentation will I be receiving?
  • Why is this the best choice for my condition?
  • How long will I be immobilized?
  • Should I receive physical therapy to help me regain lost strength and mobility?

User Contributions:

arlene Ligotti
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 30, 2008 @ 4:16 pm
I HAD 3 titanium rods inserted-and held in place with nuts,bolts and screws over 5 levels ending in L2, about 5 or 6 years ago. Also my own bone was used as stabelization. One of the rods have 'cracked' and i have uncomfortable popping and pain especially when taking a step. I discussed this with my physician and other than removing the rod and replacing it, which he did not recommend, he said I just had to put up with it. I also have 3 ulcers that I'm dealing with so pain management is difficult. I am a very active 73 year old and am not ready to give up.
Do you have any suggestions for me?
gina Schrader
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 31, 2009 @ 10:10 am
I also have a titanium rod that cleanly cracked in half and my doctors says I can leave it in because it is stablized and not going anywhere? This april would of been 3 yrs. for me and I am so upset and cannot understand why this happened. I have other noises going on in my back and lots of pain. They are treated it as a back fracture. Need advice of what to do?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 10, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
I am 3 months shy of two years since my lumbar laminectomy , posteriorfusion with intrapedicular pins (screws) and posterior Harrington Rods. Post operatively I had respiratory complications after the nurses pushed me to walk the next day- which is fine- but refused to listen when I told them I couldn't breathe-I was in a stiff corset- I was re-intubated and stayed under "concious sedation" and was immobilised for a few days with the "milk of amnesia"= propofol. Iended up in a nursing home because I needed to learn to walk again;(humiliation from nurses'aides but rejoiced in the physical therapy personnel). I now have had for several months severe pain (ice-Pick) at one of the screw sites and constant pain in the OTHER leg with numbness. The surgeon says maybe to remove the "moving screw". I am Terrified at the thought. Are there any options? Any one have any thoughts, insights? Any hope?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 27, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
I have had rods as well, put in 7 yrs ago. T4 to T12 were stabilzed due to a bad roll-over accident I had. After the surgury I lived throw two years of unbelievable pain. I had to get on a pain patch for the second year of my recovery. I will tell you today I have some nerve damage that feels like a continues fire on my back, due to the accident not the surgury, and I have discovered cymbolta the anti depression medicine helps me with this. My advice is have your spin repaired and then get on your process of recovery. During my surgury they had to undo and reapply the screws for a better fit. I recommend having the surgury and being prepaired for a long and painful recovery that will come - mine took almost 2 yrs. to be pain free.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 17, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
I had a fusion done ten years ago..everything has been great the other day I felt this ripple go up my spine...and I now have pain in the L4 and L5 area. Sometimes it is so painful I want to scream. Could my fusion have cracked? Worried and started wearing a back brace it has helped alot.
Rosa Schneider
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 18, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
I had scoliosis surgery in Oct, 1992. It was anterior/posterior fusion using moduloc instrumentation with Cotrel-Dubousset Instrumentation. I had no problem with recovery, doing great up to the present time. I would like to know if Cotrel-Dubousset Spinal Instrumentation is made up of titanium or stainless steel. Thank you in advance.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 18, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
I had a fusion done ten years ago..everything has been great the other day I felt this ripple go up my spine...and I now have pain in the L4 and L5 area. Sometimes it is so painful I want to scream. Could my fusion have cracked? Worried and started wearing a back brace it has helped alot.
jennifer
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 28, 2011 @ 10:10 am
I had corrective surgery in 1986 using the Cotrel-Dubousset procedure. All is well with that, but I need an MRI for my shoulder. I need to know what kind of metal my rods are. I spoke with the hospital where i had surgery and those records have already been destroyed. It seems my doctor has retired. I don't know what else to do. Everything I've read online doesn't say what kind of metal rods were used. Help!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 12, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
My son had spinal fusion performed 10/8/10. He has an extea vertebrae (which the doctor had knowledge of.) Doctor started basic chat flexing exercises at home. Fusion literally "popped"and "micromovements" were noted. He was given a Bone Growth Stimulator and vague (..."rated for up to 24 hrs") and a few days later he was in so much pain we took him to the ER immediately. The inside of his back was so inflamed it required prescription treatment.

There is one other thing I can't explain: his fusion and the surrounding area makes popping, squishy, scraping noises. What causes thi? Is it common?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 16, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
My father who is 73 wants to have the fusion surgery, his doctor thinks its too risky for him. he has diabetes and asthma. But my father thinks he's going in and coming out no pain and back to when he was 40. I just don;t know his doctor does not want to do the surgery. he said he would find another one. for now he's on loratab. his doctor want to give him another paing block the first one was in march epidural, this will be t something for the pain in his legs. but he won;t have unless he can garautee it will work. i told him there is no gurantee on the surgery. any infor will help
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 8, 2011 @ 11:11 am
Mary, I have had a squeaky type noise that started within one month of my S1 to T12 fusion with stainless steel instrumentation which has gotten gradially louder over past 10 months. While it does not hurt and I am very active for my 72 years (3-7 mile/day 7 have started playing golf again).
My surgeon has not given me an explaination. I am interested if you or anyone else has had a similar experience. While i am doing quite well, I do worry that this could lead to a failure of the surgery & more surgery
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 12, 2011 @ 5:05 am
What types of instrumentation will I be receiving and how long the catheter will be i me
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 19, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I have a broken titanium rod in my spine , can it be rejoined with a sleeve rather than removing the rod ?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 12, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
My question is, can Herrington Rods cause polyperipheral neuropathy. The reason I ask, I had Herrington rods put in my back in 1984, and removed in 1991. I felt everything went well. Now it is 2011 and have drop foot. Three months ago I had an electrodiagnostic consultation. Heavy Metals were found in my body. That was said to of caused the drop foot. Is there a chance, that Herrington Rods would cause this polyperipheral neuropathy in ones body? Thank You James Griffis
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 3, 2011 @ 7:07 am
My mother has had 3 spinal fusion operations with rods put in place. With each operation the dr. Had to go higher up the spine due to the vertebrae above the fusion basically crumbling as she has osteoporosis. With each surgery she would be doing pretty well and standing straight but within months she would start curving forward again. About 8 months after the second surgery both rods snapped and the pitch forward increased significantly. The dr. Took all of that hardware out and replaced it and added some additional stabilization in the area that it broke but within 6 months these rods snapped in the very same place. This happened just a few weeks ago and she has gone from standing reasonably straight to almost 90 degrees when standing and can only lift her head to look up by using her hand and is quite a bit of pain. I don't think my mother can go through another surgery of this degree right now, are there any other options. why do her rods keep breaking? We are told by her dr. That this is very uncommon. Are there other options that would not involve the rods?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 13, 2011 @ 11:23 pm
Audrey, I'm so sorry to hear what your mother is going through. It sounds like to me that the pressure that is being put on her spine where naturally, even without any rods is so great that even the rods can't support all the pressure so they snap. Are the fusions also snapping or are they staying in place? After my fusion I continued to have pain because my body's natural weight when bending slightly forward or sitting was putting so much preasure and strain on my rods. So I went back in and they put in what's called a spinal cage. This goes in between the disks and helps to take alot of pressure off the rods. If you can imagine it, it's like putting a wedge in between the disks that helps prevent and supports the spine when going forward. Check out a spinal cage option. Search spinal cage on google to learn more. Good luck to you and your mom.
lorraine
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 24, 2011 @ 9:09 am
I AM 45YEARS OLD AND BEEN SUFFERING WITH MY BACK FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS I AM DUE TO GO FOR MY PRE OP ON THE 1ST NOV TO HAVE INSTRUMENTED FUSION INTER BODY CAGE AND DECOMPRESSION OF THE L5/S1 FORAMENA I AM REALLY SCARED ABOUT THIS OP AND WAS WONDERING IF ANYBODY CAN TELL ME ABIT ABOUT IT, AND HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO REST FOR AFTER OP
chiclette
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 13, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
I am 49 years old...suffered with spondylolethesis for 2 years...tried everything including physio, spinal injections, many different pain meds, chiropractor, accupuncture...nothing worked so decidied to go ahead with the fusion. I am now 3 months post op and am doing pretty good...it was certainly a major operation and the recovery has been long but I am very optimistic for a full recovery. The only problem that I now have is in my right thigh...a burning/ tingling but I was told that this is from the positioning on the operating table (surgery was over 7 hours)...I am walking every day and will begin physio therapy next week and should go back to work soon. I would certainly recomend surgery to anyone in the same situation just make sure that you research the surgeon and hospital.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 16, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
After two back surgeries 1st fusin 2nd one 9 screws now its been 3 years and imback to square one. My back never stops huting especailly bending at the hip getting up out of a chair or out of bed or toes drawing up on the right foot..im so scard that something has gone wrong..it just doesnt feel right especailly on the left side and there is a huge hard knot about the size of an green walnut hdros,trazdone flexrill relafan absoutley nothing help exercsing some heat and ice ..you name it but i try to walk everyday and its just ..when i iwalk if i dont step or pay attention to the way i walk it feels like i loose compltercontrol of movement in the lower back. Please someone give mesome advice onwhat to do...i have had 27 surgeries including neck, abdomen, knees, hands, bladder sometimes i feel like the medical field abuse me or experimented with me...
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 17, 2011 @ 11:23 pm
I have a doughter 12 years old with sever scoliosis of 70 degrees. Few doctors we have seen, tell us that the only way is surgery with pedicle screws and rods. I really don't like the surgery due to a lot of troubles and pains that she has to suffer for the rest of her life. Is there a better treatment?
gina
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 29, 2011 @ 8:08 am
I am 36 and have Sherman's kyphosis! T-7,8,9 and10 are compressed with on vertebra against my spinal cord but not bad!! I've lived in pain management almost 2yrs as my pain has got worse! I can't stand my pain dr.in f-fort,ky. So I found a UK DR. Who wants to put rods up n down my spine! This is a 8hr+ surgery! Since the Pain has got so bad I scheduled this for Dec.16 2011! They say 6mo. Recovery I still work 12hr shifts in a factory and deal with the pain! I'm worried about rods breaking or screws coming out any in put??? Someone my age who has this done?? Please I have time to change my mind!!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 7, 2011 @ 10:10 am
Gina,
DO NOT DO THE SURGERY!!! I am 30 years old. I had a T-2 to L-2 spinal fusion. It was a 13 hour surgery and I ended up with 22 screws and 3 rods. The pain I had before my surgery is nothing compared to the pain I have now. Just yesterday I found out the one of my rods, has indead, broke in half. I was told a 12 month recovery. The surgery was 41 months ago, and I have never been in more pain or more miserable in all my life. I have severe neurological pain throughout my entire back, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and arthritis. I had none of this before the surgery.
Tarun
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 3, 2012 @ 6:06 am
True KD.

Operation is not good solution for sure. I also had L4-L5, L5-S1 fusion, with 6 screws. Though there is not much pain, but I can't sit for long. There are many restriction. I can here some noise in back, but surgeon says ignore it. Not sure, if it is sound of loose screw or anything else.
Tarun
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 3, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
True KD.

Operation is not good solution for sure. I also had L4-L5, L5-S1 fusion, with 6 screws. Though there is not much pain, but I can't sit for long. There are many restriction. I can here some noise in back, but surgeon says ignore it. Not sure, if it is sound of loose screw or anything else.
rachel
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 17, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
I broke my back, cracked ribs, punctured lungs after falling down the stairs and had surgery but at the time did not know osteorporosis had developed in my spine, nor did the surgeon test to find out if this was a potential issue. After six months, I was able to remove my brace and a few weeks later started having pain in my new lower back issue if I sat over 3 hours. When i went back to find out why I had this pain, the Dr.orderd an MRI and found out that due to the onset of osteosporousis, the added weight of the titanium rods had caused my vertebrae to crumble causing pain if I sat too long. The Dr said had she know of my problem, she would never have suggested the titanium rods to repair my broken back. Lesson: get tested to make sure you do not have this bone disease!! This has caused me much pain and limitations in my work that can never be reversed.
Lisa
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 18, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
Hi, First thanks to everyone who has taken the time to give info on this topic, your info is much appreciated. My step son has severe scoliosis and sadly has seperate problems which have left him unable to walk or talk since birth. He is now 10yrs old and we have just been informed he will be undergoing a full spinal fusion in the month of June 2012. I would be really grateful If anyone can put his parents and myself in the picture as to what to expect from the surgery. We are all obviously really worried as this is major surgery for someone so young. We are fully aware this is the only option for him as wearing a brace daily has not made any difference and the curve to his spine has continued to deterioate, it is now over 80%. We would like to know how the pain is afterwards following the surgery and what worked best for you while in hospital to ease the discomfort. With my step-son being unable to communicate we want to ensure we are doing the best for him by making sure we are aware of how it has affected other people who have had the same surgery. Any information as to what to expect would be appreciated. How long the op takes for example and how long the hospital stay normally is, and how many days did it take for you to start to feel better? We realise we are all in for a rough few months but we are all doing our best to keep positive.
chris
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 26, 2012 @ 10:10 am
My son had 2 rods and 20 screws fusion just over a month ago and since then had groin pain he been told if no better in 4 weeks there do ct scan I can't understand why thay hav not done any investigaion now not evan a x-ray thay say it could be a loose screw or musle pain why the wait and his pain has not been controled he 21 and its prolonging his progress in recoverery but he has now going to get pt at last I no the nhs has problems every where but come on it the basics that count and do make the difference and a better outcome
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 14, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
I have had 5 back surgeries since 2007 and i was wondering about the risk of one of my screws wa noticed to have gone all the way through my L5 vertabrea. In my MRi you can see the tissue infront of my spine being pushed towards my bowels area .. Now I see my chroni pain managment doctor monday. and will letyall knw what will or doesnt happen.. And why, i do not know if there is much between the front of the spine and the intestinal area. My sister is an RN and she said if it goes though I could become septic and be very veey sickk... Also wondering if the Doctor is responsible for my pain and damages. I will have a new surgeon this time. I am scared and for all of you above I pray for each and everyone of you . believe me if I would have known now wat I know now in 2007 I would of never had sugery. EVERY!!! there are so many other options out there Inest in the research and use surgery as the last resor. I ham completely disabled now. My life has changed in a dramatic way . I loed my career and was going to go o school to futher my education to help people, i was a medical assistat with the dreams of becomeing a drug and alcohol social wrker/ help children. I loe help others. Wish yu all the best of luck and eace. Hold on tightly to those yu love and use any support you can find. Have a peaceful evening and i look forward to heaaring from some of you.
CAROL
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 11, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Dear readers
Not sure if anyone can help me.
Am having spinal fusion of T12 thru L5 next week. Cannot find
References to this on the Internet or anyone who can let
Me know what to expect. Help!
Carol
Carole
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 29, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
Carol,
From one Carole to another Carol: I had the same surgery in Jan. of 2010. Mine was supposed to be 5 or 6 hours long but it was 12 hours long. When I awoke I was in the most horrible pain I can imaginne because they couldn't give me pain meds because my blood pressure was too long. I actually thought I was dying.

I was in the hospital for one week but so highly sedated that I have very little memory of it. From the hospital I went to rehab for 3 weeks where I got phys. therapy. At home I got home health care for a few months and then physical therapy for a few weeks. When nothing seemed to be helping, I stopped the pt.

Today, almost 1 1/2 years later I am still in a lot of pain, different pain than before my surgery and my back is very unstable. It's very difficult for me to stand up straight. I use either a walker or a cane except for in the house.

Given another chance I would not have the surgery. I hope yours has a better outcome. Mine was to correct scoliosis. Good luck and I hope my tale is not too depressing.
Virginia
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 12, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
I have severe scoliosis with several areas of severe pain. I am on pain med which does help, but I cannot eat large meals becasue it causes my stomach to expand putting pressure on the spine which then causes severe muscle spasms that cause me to vomit from the pain for 8 to 10 hours. Nothing helps the pain. I saw a doctor today who offered to " put rods and screw in my spine to straiten me out" After reading all the comments I really feel too frightened to go this way. Any info would be appreciated.
David
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 13, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
I had 10 screws and two titanium rods put in due to T2 having a burst fracture. Recovery was long a d verypainful. Now just short of a year since the operation all but one of my screws pulled out. I am at a 7 when taking pain pills. My surgeon wants to go back in put larger screws in the existing holes and add screws to more vertebrae with new longer rods. He doesn't feel the damaged vertebrae has healed enough. Has anyone had the same problem. What about the fix... I really don't want my spine looking like Swiss cheese. Has anyone used BPD growth inhibiter? Any other options or ideas. My pain is very intense.
Suzanne
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 24, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
I am 52 yrs old. I had a spinal fusion at L 4-5 with a bone graft taken from my hip (posterior incision) on June 1, 2012. I am allergic to morphine and was told to expect a very difficult recovery due to my allergy. There were literally no pain meds that helped me during those first few weeks. I had no idea how painful the surgery would be. The first 2 weeks were unbearable and I thought the pain would kill me. Then at the 3rd week I felt like I turned a tiny corner and some of the pain meds began to give me some relief. I forced myself to walk as much as I could in small increments. I bought a treadmill for home. I am now 45 days out and walking about 3 miles per day and have started PT twice per week with a therapist. I am still in a lot of pain (and still on meds) but I was told to expect this for quite some time as the bone takes months to fuse. I bought a zero gravity chair for work and home. This has been a huge help in taking the stress off my spine. I cannot stress how much this type of chair has helped me. Especially at work. I know it will be a long road before I know how much pain I will eventually have to live with from this procedure but I can say that walking has done wonders for me. I can do a lot of things most people at my post-op stage cannot do. I still sleep a great deal and was told to expect this. They said that it takes about 1 month for every hour I was under general anesthesia for the drugs to work their way out of my system. So I just sleep as much as I can. I am hoping that in a few months I will feel much less fatigue. I think that a positive attitude and great determination will help anyone who is facing this surgery. You must not give up no matter how hard things get. Just tell yourself to take one more step and eventually you will be mobile again. Walk walk walk. Good luck and don't give up. All the best to anyone who is getting ready to do this or has been thru this procedure.
dee dee
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 1, 2012 @ 11:11 am
to Virginia.I am 43 & was diagnosed w/ scoliosis as a teen.mine is the severe kind where my spine keeps curving.so much so that not only was it horseshoe shaped,but I also had a hump in my back.My surgeon said if I didn't have surgery.my spine would continue to curve until it started to affect my heart & lungs.basically,I had ant. & post. spinal fusion.(harrington rods).the surgery took 2 days w/ 1 day in between spent in ICU.(that's normal)I was my surgeons' longest operation to date @ 28 1/2 hrs total.I was told the pain would be horrendous,but it was much worse.A bloodclot delayed my recovery about 6 months to 18mos.I stopped painkillers on my own before my physical therapy was over,reaching my surgeons goal to be off meds within 12-18mos.warning-everybody will tell u their back surgery nightmares.If it's not scoliosis,theres no comparison NONE.Your primary care dr.,nurses,even the attending after surgery won't have a clue.Mine asked if he could bring his students to look @ my back because they'd likely never see my type of operation again.all I can say is it was terrifying;but I'd do it again in a second.Dr.McNulty was my surgeon-an expert in scoliosis @ nevada orthopedic.he's not cuddly,but he is a genius.this month is my 2yr anniversary,& even though I'll never be able to tie my own shoes,I'm pain free w/ perfect posture & no more hump!!! good luck whatever you decide
msplj
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 21, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
I'm 69 & had fusion back surgery 4 months ago and am still having trouble turning over in bed and getting off the bed. When I get up from bed, I can't walk, take a few baby steps and for the next 10 regular steps I am in terrible pain in my back. After the 10 or so steps I can walk ok without pain. Just wondering if any body else is having this trouble. I still suffer with sciatic nerve damage with numbness/tingling in foot. Taking neurontin
3 times a day (400 mg ea) reason for surgery, I had bulging disc pinching sciatic nerve in 2 places causing me to feel like I was sitting in coals of fire. Operation seems to have been successful other than the above problems.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 19, 2012 @ 8:08 am
looks from what i have read , im the oldest with a Harrington rod been in my back , back in 1978 they put a 20 inch Harrington rod in my back i was 16 year old kid ,thats 34 long years of suffering, i hurt so so freaking bad , i pray to god to die ever nite , im so misurbull , i cant stand it im 51 years old and in 1997 the doctor told me my back was a 85 year old mans back ,that was in 1997 ,this is 2012 can u amagein ,how old my back is now if it was 85 in 1997 its probley 130 or 140 years old by now i have detereateing des dezise,i will be so happy when i go to heaven and get my new body im 6foot but the doctors tell me im sapost to b 6foot and 4 inches cause my spine is shape like a s. please drop me a line to let me know some one cares for me thanks god bless tzarieL1@aol.com
john
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 24, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
greetings, looks like i am the oldest @ 53 , i had surgery when i was 18, they did a good job i guess considering it was a Harrington rod which is lame compared to the new way they do it with clamps on each side of the spine. i think the curve is about 15 degrees or so now, sometimes it feels like the spine is pushing out the side. i have trained hard my whole life to compensate for the weakness in my back. the best thing is lying down at night and taking the pressure off of the back.
Pete from Aus
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 21, 2012 @ 1:01 am
G'day everyone, it's really sobering to read all your stories and questions. I know it's really difficult to speak to doctors and surgeons about some of these problems, and it seems that there are MANY surgeons who are performing fusions who shouldn't be. That's something I would like to change.

I was fused (t5-T9) in 1991, and it didn't help much. I now have an intrathecal drug pump (I'm on my 5th pump in a row) and that does help some. I also have a neurostimulator, which doesn't help with pain, but DOES help to keep me mobile (I swapped one pain for two - but it's worth it!)

If you're interested, please head over to my new weblog, cephasatheos.wordpress.com. I've taught myself neurology, neurophysiology, and I constantly read scientific journal articles and papers - and I ask them questions! And they answer me! So I might be able to help explain some things. I'm not a doctor, but I've been struggling with pain and depression since 1995, and this is my chance to help other people.

It's your body, it's your decision, and if you're intimidated or ignored, you have every right to scream at your doctor or surgeon. DON'T sue them, unless they're idiots. THat just makes it harder for everyone else.

Head over, talk, ask questions, I'll try to help in any way I can.
Cheers,
Pete (Cephas Atheos)
Pete from Aus
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 22, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
G'day everyone, it's really sobering to read all your stories and questions. I know it's really difficult to speak to doctors and surgeons about some of these problems, and it seems that there are MANY surgeons who are performing fusions who shouldn't be. That's something I would like to change.

I was fused (t5-T9) in 1991, and it didn't help much. I now have an intrathecal drug pump (I'm on my 5th pump in a row) and that does help some. I also have a neurostimulator, which doesn't help with pain, but DOES help to keep me mobile (I swapped one pain for two - but it's worth it!)

If you're interested, please head over to my new weblog, cephasatheos.wordpress.com. I've taught myself neurology, neurophysiology, and I constantly read scientific journal articles and papers - and I ask them questions! And they answer me! So I might be able to help explain some things. I'm not a doctor, but I've been struggling with pain and depression since 1995, and this is my chance to help other people.

It's your body, it's your decision, and if you're intimidated or ignored, you have every right to scream at your doctor or surgeon. DON'T sue them, unless they're idiots. THat just makes it harder for everyone else.

Head over, talk, ask questions, I'll try to help in any way I can.
Cheers,
Pete (Cephas Atheos)
Rajpal singh
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 12, 2012 @ 6:06 am
Sir I am 29 years old in an accident in 2010 my spinal cod l1 is broked after that doctor operate me doctor put titanium rod and screw luckily I am not paralysed now it's two years gone but due to screw and rode its little painting every time now I want to remove this rod and screw from my body so that I live normally suggest me is it possible because at the time of surgery doctor told me if you wanna remove after one year we can remove suggest me what I should do thanks
lee
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 5, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
doesn't anyone have a good experience with their rod or fusion surgery? Please write a comment.
john brereton
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 4, 2013 @ 12:00 am
hi,i had my spinal surgery in 1998.the surgery i had was called,anterior decompression and fusion of the c5/6 c6/7 discs.this operation did nothing for me to relieve the pain,in fact i now have to take a drug called FENTANYL patches that need to change every three days.i am sorry i had this operation done now because it has left me with nerve damage and in more pain than before the operation.i know have a great deal of pain in my lower back,but i will not have anymore operations incase that does not work.i am now 58 years of age but walk and feel like a 98 year old.
Rhonda
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 10, 2013 @ 10:22 pm
I had to have emergency surgery because my T7 vertebrae was destroyed by infection and collapsed sending a piece of bone into my spinal cord. I now have a bone fusion of T7 & T8, a bar and 2 titanium rods with 8 screws from T5-T10 in my mid-back. I am wondering if anyone else has gone through this type of situation. If so, how long was your recovery time, can you feel the rods in your back, did you have a full recovery? I am almost 4 months out of surgery and have gone from bed ridden to up and walking with a walker. It would just be helpful to know what to expect from someone who has actually experienced the situation, rather than being told what should eventually happen.
Csryn
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 12, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
11 years ago I had spinal fusion, bone graft and rods and screws on S-1, L-4 &5. At the time Neurosurgeon told me I would be back in
10 years as I will need surgery on L-3 and L-2. Sure enough he was right as I have been in terrible pain in my buttocks, hips and legs.
1 1/2 years ago I had a Neurostimulator implanted to deal with the pain. It has been of some help. Dr. considers 40% relief is the best
it will do. My pain has now moved over to the left side and is worse than ever. I have had numerous steroid and epidural injections
with no relief. I am now considering to fix the L-2 and L-3, but with the Orthopedic Surgeon who put in my stimulator. They seem to
think differently from Neurosurgeons regarding surgical techniques. I feel I have no other choice at this time but to do more surgery
again as my quality of life has gone down considerately. That is what the Dr asked about. I have to take so much pain medicine to
just walk.I am 70 and was active. I have degenerative disc disease and so do my 2 sisters who have been going through this also.
There was no history of any family members having DDD. The doctors told us that we all have the same weak gene. My question is about
having the surgery again as I need to tell the Dr.when I see him in 3 weeks.
Suzi
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 19, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
Hi To everyone out there who has Scoliosis. I had idiopathic Scoloisis at 11. In 1971 I had a 13" titanium Harrington rod inserted and bone grafted from my hip into the bottom vertabraes. I am now 55 and the rod has been in place for 42years, I have had no problems after surgery. Total treatment lasted over 4 years. I had a brilliant surgeon Prof Robert Owen at Gobowen in England. I have two children normal deliveries and have lived life to the full. Playing hockey at club level, Road Time trialing on a racing bike, and lots of swimming. I have my own business as a Landscape Gardener. Sure I get bad back pain but because the curves were so bad I would not have survived beyond 17, so being active is the best way to go.
My surgeon once told me "THE ONLY LIMITATIONS IN LIFE ARE WHAT WE PLACE ON OURSELVES". Hope this gives a little help to others.
Ger
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 6, 2013 @ 5:05 am
My son 32 broke his T12 and was in brace and not able to move but lie flat on his back and not move. He had his surgery rod etc. but now 4 weeks after surgery his wound is still oozing pus. They think he may have an allergy to rods and MRI did not show a fluid build up is as if my son is producing it daily. If they remove these rods can they put in other ones or is he going to be left paralysed if they remove them at this stage. Please help me Ger
pam
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 20, 2014 @ 2:14 pm
I was eleven years old. My doctor said i was born with the curve in my spine. My curve is in between my shoulder blades so no rod just infusion body cast for 9 months but i was tottally bed redden for three and ahalf months. I got to have it removed 2 weeks before my 12th birthday. I'm now 48 and have 2 boys.Ages 28 and 26 years old. Had complections having my first child my pelvic bone had shifted and he got hung and caught an blood infection from the birth canel and had to do an emergency c-section. My second child they schduled my c-section and he was fine. But now im having chronic back pain that goes down my legs and can't do anything. My nerves are coming thru my spinal cord and that is what is causing my pain. My disk and vertabraes are disappearing.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA


Spinal Instrumentation forum