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Thread: Scheuermann's disease fusion surgery concern

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Scheuermann's disease fusion surgery concern

    I had my spine fused from t2-t12 back in Jan 2008 using only a posterior procedure. I assumed the discs were to be removed, as that's what occurs in a usual surgery (the doc removes the disks and then fuses the spine). Then a few days ago I went for a follow-up, and was inquring about how to remove the metal from my back, and he told me that my discs were not taken out, but that my spine was fused properly nonetheless. I really would like to have the metal removed no matter what, as its truly disruptive during cold weather (although its titanium with vitallium screws) and because it would limit future employment prospects, but what I am curious about is, if the discs were never removed, can the surgery still be reversed? And, if so, would my back return to its previous hunched position or would it keep this "fixed" position? I would assume that, after living for nearly 4 years with a normal curve, all of the muscles and other tissue would have become used to this position and not return to an abnormal curvature even if the additional bone is removed. Another concern is are the discs still operational or are they already damaged to the point where reversal is not feasible?

    I would appreciate any opinions on both removing the metal and on the prospects of reversing the fusion but still being left with a normal curvature.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Florida
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    If you are fused, you are fused, and the hardware is no longer necessary. What do you mean by "reversing the surgery"? You can't be un-fused, and why would you want to be? The vertebra are fused together, bone melded to bone, around the disc. If you are successfully fused, you can have the hardware out if you don't mind another surgery to do it.

    I'm just curious, how does the hardware limit employment opportunities?
    Stephanie, age 56
    Diagnosed age 8
    Milwaukee brace 9 years, no further treatment, symptom free and clueless until my 40s that curves could progress.
    Thoracolumbar curve 39 degrees at age 17
    Now somewhere around 58 degrees thoracic, 70 degrees thoracolumbar
    Surgeon Dr. Michael S. O'Brien, Baylor's Southwest Scoliosis Center, Dallas TX
    Bilateral laminectomies at L3 to L4, L4 to L5 and L5 to S1 on April 4, 2012
    Foramenotomies L3 through S1 in August 2014

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    Northern California
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    6,951
    Although rods can usually be removed, there is no way to reverse the surgery if the fusion has been done. Discs are sometimes removed (although usually from an approach from the front instead of the back), and in some cases for Scheuermann's, removal of the discs is appropriate, but it sounds like that did not occur in your case. In posterior fusion surgeries where the discs have not been removed, the discs will calcify over time. While your muscles, tendons, etc. might get acclamated to the new position, they will always continue to want to curve because of the wedging of the vertebrae and discs. Removing the implants might be safe, but there's no way of knowing in advance. You may find some years from now that your kyphosis is increasing.

    I'm not clear why you think your implants might have an effect on your employment possibilities.

    --Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Thanks for the advice. The reason why I want the rods removed is because some jobs for the Government, such as the FBI, frown on metal implants. Although I am not definitely sure I want a job like that, I don't want to limit my options. I am going to law school and want to be free to obtain any job I would like. Besides, when the temperature changes quickly, the metal hurts. Would removing the metal be an especially difficult operation and would recovery be strenuous?

    Another of my concerns about the metal is that I am only 23 years old right now and there have been few, if any, long-term studies of the complications stemming from the metal implants over a prolonged timeframe. But, would removing the metal somehow cause more harm than good?

    In regards to reversing the surgery... So, there's absolutely no way to reverse fusion after its done? Can the discs be repaired and the bone cut out? I am not saying I am going to do it; I just want to know whether what I did was permanent. Its possible that in a decade doctors will develop an alternative surgery for kyphosis that does not revolve around fusion.

    For my final question.. does anyone know if thoracic fusion (from t2-t12) can damage the discs and verebres under the fused area? Lately Ive been having immense lower back pain that is only mitigated by pain killers. Is this a permanent development or just a temporary one that occurs while the body adjusts (its been nearly 4 years though)?

    I appreciate the assistance.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    NC
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    9,174
    Quote Originally Posted by maks898 View Post
    The reason why I want the rods removed is because some jobs for the Government, such as the FBI, frown on metal implants.
    Can you please tell me where you go this information? Is it just a random rumor? What exact position within FBI do you think would make them frown on implants? The FBI has many, many, many, positions and I can't think of a single one where having spine implants would disqualify you. I seriously doubt they are even allowed to ask that question at the interview.

    For my final question.. does anyone know if thoracic fusion (from t2-t12) can damage the discs and verebres under the fused area? Lately Ive been having immense lower back pain that is only mitigated by pain killers. Is this a permanent development or just a temporary one that occurs while the body adjusts (its been nearly 4 years though)?
    You would need a radiograph to begin to answer that question. Are you tipping forward starting at the T12-L1 junction or does your whole lower back hurt?
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    3,745
    i am afraid you did not research the surgery very much before you had it...
    or you would not ask if it can be "reversed"
    no, fused is fused....it CAN NOT be undone...it is permanent, with the rods, or after the rods are removed....
    i feel really bad for you if no one explained the surgery to you clearly enough for you to understand it...

    maybe you should consider seeing a new scoliosis surgeon for an opinion
    about whether or not anything can be done to address what was not done with your
    discs....
    discs can cause a great deal of pain....

    i agree with Sharon....i cannot imagine what job you are speaking of that
    would rule you out due to rods...unless it involves some kind of physical bending
    that rods would prevent you from doing.....????

    jess

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