View Full Version : Bumpy Recovery

08-30-2011, 12:29 PM
Hi to all. I am 12 weeks post-op today. I know many of you have expressed a desire to hear all stories, good and bad, so even though I have been reluctant to post- here goes. At approx 8 wks. post-op i developed chest pain, shortness of breath(which I had initially in the hospital). I went to a local ER, who did a CT scan to rul out pulmonary embolism, which was negative. The radiologist noticed a pedicle screw at T7 was partially out of the vertebral body, leaving the threads exposed, and it was 1mm from my aorta. They were unable to reach my surgeon, but the Dr on call said it was fine, send me home! I went to see my surgeons assoc. several days later(surgeon was out of country) and he said the screw was not loose, even though it pulled out of the bone partially, and recommended no treatment. My surgeon called when he returned, and agreed. My physical therapist, at that point, refused to do therapy, since I continued to be symptomatic. After speaking with Dr.B., we agreed it made sense to see a cardiologist, whom I saw yesterday. Turns out I had an undiagnosed pericarditis, and now have a pericardial effusion. He was not comfortable with the screws proximity to the aorta, and is sending my films to a cardiothoracic surgeon. I was told by my surgeon, that although it is rare, this can happen when they apply the torque to derotate the spine, but they really don't know how often it happens, since X-ray will not pick it up, only CT scans. I found quite a few articles on PubMed, through the NIH, documenting such cases. My question remains: If it is known the close proximity of the aorta to the spine, esp. in the thoracic region, why are CT scans not done routinely to verify placement? Interestingly enough, I did have one at HSS post-op, due to the chest pain, and they missed it! I am praying I do not need more surgery. Sorry to be a downer, but I feel it is important to share all information.

08-30-2011, 05:14 PM
Oh Lori!

So sorry to hear that. It must be so scary and frustrating. I hope they will be able to figure out the best way to treat you, and hopefully avoid further surgery. Gosh, I can't imagine going through that so soon post-op.

I'm glad you shared your story, it's always good to know the things that can happen post-op.

Keep us posted!


08-30-2011, 08:13 PM
I'm sorry to hear you had this problem. Hopefully, it can be taken care of quickly so you can get on with recovery.

08-30-2011, 10:37 PM

Oh boy. Iím so sorry to hear this.

Someone I work with had a pericarditis procedure just 2 months ago and he is doing pretty good. He didnít have to leave little old Reno, we have one of the best specialists here in that field. They went through his right side laparoscopically to access the heart on the left side, hard to believe but true.

CTís emit quite a bit of radiation and doing them usually needs a good reason. Missing something can happen.....radiologists are human.

Its good that you posted...as always we are here for support.

08-31-2011, 03:31 PM

I'm so sorry to hear of these complications. It must be frightening, but it sounds like you've got a team of doctors
working on the situation. I really hope you don't need more surgery.

I know what you mean about not wanting to post bad news about our surgeries. I feel like my story might be scaring
anyone thinking of surgery. But I guess people need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly, as they say. If my upcoming second surgery fixes things I'll think it was all worth it.

Good luck with everything.

Mary, Age 54
Surgery with Dr. Boachie 7/5/11, fused T2-T12
Pre-surgery T60, L52
Post-surgery T26, L33
Next surgery scheduled 9/21/11

08-31-2011, 05:22 PM
So sorry to hear you are having problems. It is important to be pro-active and when something is not right, you have to keep letting people know until someone listens. It's a shame that it took this long, but it sounds like you're on the right track now. Hope you can get this taken care of soon and get back to recovery. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

08-31-2011, 07:09 PM
Awh Lori, I am so sorry to hear this. Hopefully they can get you fixed up good as new. You are in my prayers.

08-31-2011, 08:31 PM
I am sorry to hear this .Please keep us posted


09-01-2011, 11:15 AM
Thank you everyone for your concern and well wishes. The latest word from Dr. Boachie is no screw removal at this point, and repeat CT scan in 6 months. Although I am very relieved to not be having more surgery this soon, I am concerned about all the radiation exposure from all the x-rays and CT scans, and knowing the screw is 1 mm from the aorta is pretty unsettling. I just hope I can forget about it for a while.
Mary- I know how you must be feeling. Having surgery again this soon is frightening. I hope you do well, and will be watching for your posts, post-op. You are right, we do have to post all information. It is important for people to know this surgery is not a walk in the park, and even going to the best surgeons offers no guarantees. Good Luck to you, hopefully this surgery will fix the problem.

09-01-2011, 11:38 AM
Lori, thanks for these last news, I hope everything will be allright. But I guess it will not be easy to forget about this aorta proximity from the screw... Anyway, thanks for sharing your story, it's important to gather all information possible, nice and less nice, about this surgery. We will be there for you anytime.

09-06-2011, 12:38 PM
So sorry that you are going through this. There are so many complications that can occur from this surgery. Hope you get better soon.

09-06-2011, 02:23 PM
What a scary experience, and I don't blame you for continuing to feel unsettled. Best wishes for a worry-free six months as you continue to recover.

09-06-2011, 09:30 PM
Lori, I'm so sorry to hear about your complications here-- just wanted to comment that you and I had surgery the same day, so I guess we're kind of surgical twins. I was at UC San Diego and had mine in two phases. The lower three vertebrae were fused on June 7th, coming in from my right hip. Another two vertebrae were already fused by arthritis. The rest of the surgery was posterior, on June 9th.

09-07-2011, 06:59 AM
Again, thank you so much for all of your concern. It has been a very upsetting development for me. Dr. Boachie did call me after my cardiology consult, and he strongly feels that the screw does not need to be removed at this point. I am to have a repeat CT scan in 6 months. I need to make sure the pericarditis is resolved completely before any intervention could be done, if ever needed. So, I am just going to try to relax, put it out of my mind, and focus on recovery.
Paula- How is your recovery going? Are you experiencing a lot of tightness in your back? Are you going to PT? I wish you well in your recovery, as I know how difficult it can be!

loves to skate
09-07-2011, 09:53 AM
So sorry to hear of this complication. I hope you can relax about it. Apparently the Doc's don't consider it an immediate threat, so hang in there. Thinking the best for you.