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Thread: almost 2 years post op...both rods are broken

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Posts
    59

    almost 2 years post op...both rods are broken

    Hello Scoli friends,

    It has been quite a while since I have posted, but I have been lurking around for some time. Ever since my first surgery I have always had problems with pain.
    Becoming worse in the past 6 months. The end of November I squatted down to put something in the bottom of my refrigerator and felt and heard a POP, the pain was extreme. I could barely walk, sit or lay down. I used ice and took some hydrocodone and a muscle relaxer that I still had lying around and after awhile the pain subsided enough that I could move. The next day I went to see Dr. Chapman (he is a surgeon here in my home town who follows me) and xrays showed no break and he told me that I probably tore a muscle (the pain was in my left sacral joint area mostly). said it would heal in 8-10 weeks. I took a week off of work to try and recover. I did get a little better for a short while and then I started having more pain and pressure in other areas of my back, I was missing work often and spending a lot of time in bed. On Dec 18th I was driving home from work and felt what I can only describe as an electric jolt with another loud POP. Again the pain was extreme, I had to pull over and collect my self before I could continue driving. I called the Dr and asked for some stronger pain meds, he prescribed some and also a medrol dose pack (thought it was inflammation) and a work release. I continued to get worse and on Dec 23rd went back in, he took another set of xrays and told me that I had an area of non-union and BOTH of my rods were broken. I was devastated. He said one rod must have broke in Nov and it just didn't show up on xray. ( I saw the xray also, it wasn't there). I am in constant pain and haven't been able to lay down flat since xmas day. I am bent forward and have resorted back to using a cane to help me walk. My surgeon Dr. Lenke cannot even see me for 3 months. I will not make it that long. I am scheduled to have surgery here in my hometown on Jan 21st. Please keep me in your thoughts. I am living a nightmare and I can't wake up.
    Spring
    42 yrs old
    Milwaukee braced 1983 to 1989
    was told my curves would never progress
    at 19yrs old 1991, T30-L38
    2010, T38-L56--progression in one year 2011, T40-L67
    new diagnosis-kyphoscoliosis, DDD, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, 73 degree Kyphosis
    Surgery 1-09-12....10 hrs all posterior T4-sacrum & 2 cages
    Dr. Lenke-St. Louis Mo.
    Surgery to clean out infection 2-10-12
    Revision for broken rods 1-23-14

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,170
    First of all, I'm shocked to hear of your plight and hope your new surgery goes well. Secondly, I'm surprised that Lenke, who was your original surgeon, can't see you for three months. I would have thought you were still his patient and this is an emergency.

    Please let us know how you get on with your new surgery. You deserve 100% success.
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,032

    my story is nearly identical to yours

    Dear Spring,

    I am so very sorry to hear of your broken rods. Your story is really almost identical to mine. I suffered a loud, painful pop at 15 months post-op but had clear x-rays and bone scan. One month later I had another very loud, painful pop and then both rods were broken. Here is a link to my story:

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...rld&highlight=

    I am now close to two years following my extensive revision. Overall I found the revision surgery to be less painful and less difficult than the original surgery. My revision was 8 hours long, but I went straight to a regular room and avoided the ICU. I returned to work (physically demanding job, but on completely restricted duty--sitting only) at 12 weeks post-op. I am doing very well now as I approach the two year mark, although I am still somewhat haunted by the prospect of more broken rods.

    I am curious what levels are broken? What will your upcoming surgery entail? Do they plan to remove/revise the rods completely? What will they do to ensure you fuse completely this time? I am pretty shocked also that Lenke can not see you for three months nor help you in this situation. I hope you feel complete confidence in the surgeon who will do the revision. That is still a very big surgery.

    Best of luck, and please let us know how you are doing. I can 100% relate to how you feel and remember it well. You will get through this, I promise. Feel free to ask me anything about my revision experiences.
    Last edited by leahdragonfly; 01-16-2014 at 07:06 PM.
    Gayle, age 47
    Boston brace as a teen for AIS
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation, TLIF at L4/5.
    Feb 2012 major A/P revision for broken rods


    mom of Leah, 12 y/o, diagnosed Jan '08 with 26* thoracic JIS (age 6)
    4/08 26 degrees, brace 16 hrs/day
    9/08 17 deg. OOB - brace discontinued
    9/09 30 deg, resuming brace
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/14 stable 4 yrs post-op, 14* T

    also mom of Torrey, 9 y/o son, 12* T, decreasing spontaneously (from 19*)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,337
    Hi Spring...

    Surgery to replace your rods and refuse the pseudarthrosis is actually a relatively minor surgery. Would it be possible to have someone else do the surgery? It would be great to see Dr. Lenke again, but I can tell you that it really doesn't take someone of his class to fix your problem.

    --Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Dilbert
    I'm sarcastic... what's your super power? --Unknown
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you've signed up and are having trouble posting, please check your spam folder. An email was sent to the email address which you subscribed. You have to follow the instructions in that email. Done that and still having trouble posting? Contact Joe O'Brien at jpobrien@scoliosis.org.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,516
    Spring,
    I can't tell you how bad I feel for you. It seems unbelievable to me that Dr. Lenke can't see you with this painful situation. I had my 3 year check up on the 10th and certainly would have given you my appointment which could have been postponed. I hope you feel a little better about everything after reading Linda's reply. We sure like to think that we're out of the woods after a year post-op and to have broken rods now has to be devastating to you. I'm sure you will do fine after your surgery and feel much relief. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 63
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Posts
    59
    thank you all for your kind words....Gayle, that is crazy that our stories are so similar, I am so glad you are two years post op from this and still doing well, that gives me hope. I'm not sure of the specifics but I think the rods are broken at L2/3, I have cages in L4 and L5 and will be having a couple more put in in the area of the pseudarthrosis. And yes I am having the surgery done by someone else because Lenke can't fit me in, this surgeon is a spine specialist and I feel confident he will be able to fix me. But how can I feel confident that this won't happen again? It is such a long recovery to have to start over and over again. I will post again after I'm fixed
    Spring
    42 yrs old
    Milwaukee braced 1983 to 1989
    was told my curves would never progress
    at 19yrs old 1991, T30-L38
    2010, T38-L56--progression in one year 2011, T40-L67
    new diagnosis-kyphoscoliosis, DDD, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, 73 degree Kyphosis
    Surgery 1-09-12....10 hrs all posterior T4-sacrum & 2 cages
    Dr. Lenke-St. Louis Mo.
    Surgery to clean out infection 2-10-12
    Revision for broken rods 1-23-14

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,032
    Hi Spring,

    I absolutely know how you feel right now…to get so far in recovery and suddenly be put back to square one is devastating. I do think the recovery is easier and less painful because all the rest of your fusion is solid, and the large scoli correction is already done, so all the pain associated with the initial surgical straightening of the spine will not reoccur. I had significantly less pain with the second surgery and came off narcotics pretty easily.

    As far as how to move past the fear of suffering broken rods a second time…I am still struggling with that to some degree. I don't dwell on it constantly or anything, but it is now in the back of my mind that I could break rods again and how awful that would be. Hopefully for you your recovery will be uneventful and you can get back to normal as soon as possible.

    One thing about going through this twice for me was the benefit of learning things from the first surgery. I knew how to manage my bowels to prevent serious constipation, I knew how to gradually increase my walking, I knew how to manage my meds and activity restrictions, and most of all, I knew that while the first weeks or two would suck, I would for sure start to feel better after that.

    Please let us know how you are doing after your surgery.
    Gayle, age 47
    Boston brace as a teen for AIS
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation, TLIF at L4/5.
    Feb 2012 major A/P revision for broken rods


    mom of Leah, 12 y/o, diagnosed Jan '08 with 26* thoracic JIS (age 6)
    4/08 26 degrees, brace 16 hrs/day
    9/08 17 deg. OOB - brace discontinued
    9/09 30 deg, resuming brace
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/14 stable 4 yrs post-op, 14* T

    also mom of Torrey, 9 y/o son, 12* T, decreasing spontaneously (from 19*)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Southwest Florida
    Posts
    101

    Confused about Rods Breaking

    Hi I have read all of your post's and am confused about how your rods have broken. It sounds like from the two stories you were both just doing everyday tasks. Nothing out of the norm. What cased solid rods to break? This is concerning to me since I just had hardware put back into my spine.

    My second question is if you were completely fused, why would they replace the rods? Why wouldn't they just remove the bad hardware?

    I had an infection 2 years after a complete spinal reconstruction. They said since I had a solid fusion at that time they could remove all hardware. My doctor at the time said hardware was just to hold everything until the fusion was solid. I went 16 years without hardware. I just recently had another revision and have hardware again.

    Sorry you had to go through this and sorry you are in so much pain. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,337
    Quote Originally Posted by dixiesmommie View Post
    Hi I have read all of your post's and am confused about how your rods have broken. It sounds like from the two stories you were both just doing everyday tasks. Nothing out of the norm. What cased solid rods to break? This is concerning to me since I just had hardware put back into my spine.

    My second question is if you were completely fused, why would they replace the rods? Why wouldn't they just remove the bad hardware?

    I had an infection 2 years after a complete spinal reconstruction. They said since I had a solid fusion at that time they could remove all hardware. My doctor at the time said hardware was just to hold everything until the fusion was solid. I went 16 years without hardware. I just recently had another revision and have hardware again.

    Sorry you had to go through this and sorry you are in so much pain. I wish you a speedy recovery.
    The activity had nothing to do with the break. The way it works is that because fusion didn't occur at one level, the rods were allowed to move very slightly at the same place over and over again. Eventually, like a paper clip bent too many times, the slightest movement allows the rods to break.

    As to your second question, the fusion at the one level never became solid.

    --Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Dilbert
    I'm sarcastic... what's your super power? --Unknown
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you've signed up and are having trouble posting, please check your spam folder. An email was sent to the email address which you subscribed. You have to follow the instructions in that email. Done that and still having trouble posting? Contact Joe O'Brien at jpobrien@scoliosis.org.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Southwest Florida
    Posts
    101
    Thanks for explaining Linda. That makes sense and sounds pretty scary. Hope all works out !

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,273
    Spring, it amazes me that a titanium metal rod could break! It is even more amazing that your story is identical to Gayle's story. I know that your doctor will be diligent to make sure that everything is secure. I am sending you good, healing thoughts. Keep us posted. Gayle is a strong woman and you must be too. I can't believe that you drove your car with two broken rods! You are amazing! You will do well. You have the strength to to this.
    Susan
    Last edited by susancook; 01-18-2014 at 01:05 AM.
    2011: Degenerative Adult Onset Scoliosis @65
    25* T levoscoliosis/ 36* L dexroscoliosis w/ 11.2 cm coronal & 3.5 cm sagittal balance T kyphosis 90*
    Severe disc degen thoracic & lumbar stenosis
    Surgery: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 2 surgeries
    3/2013, Dr. Hu @ UCSF
    Postop hernia @ ALIF incision repaired 2014
    8/2014: Rev surgery OHSU Dr. Hiratzka hardware removal T3-T5; reinstrument & revision fusion T3-T6
    Proximal Junctional Failure w/ SCI
    Cauda Equina Syndrome

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    532
    I am so sorry, Spring... Hope you have a successful revision and everything fuses this time. I can't even imagine how you feel. Hang in here.
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    2,871
    Spring

    I’m so sorry this had to happen.....we all worry so much about non-unions, I know I walked on eggshells for a long time. Why non-unions happen is not a black and white sort of thing, and can happen with the best surgeons. Our bodies are complicated, there is no doubt about that.

    Try to look and think forward since we all know that complications can happen. It seems that many that have to do their revisions come through quite well.....Since you have been struggling with this pain for months now, after the repair of this level, you will feel so much better in the end....Stay strong.....

    Hang in there, you will get past this bump in the road.

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 55, the new 45...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    A/P T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Posts
    59
    Linda's explanation is great....I will have to remember that way to explain this to people because breaking cobalt is hard to wrap ones head around. Susan, I'd like to believe you when you say that I'm strong enough to do this, but then again this isn't my first rodeo. Yes Ed, even the best surgeons....and I had one, I am very fortunate in that and I blame no one for this outcome....not even myself (shockingly). Thank you to everyone who has cared enough to send me well wishes and support, even though I have fallen off the radar for quite some time it is nice to feel welcomed back. Surgery is in....73 1/2 hours, but who's counting?
    Spring
    42 yrs old
    Milwaukee braced 1983 to 1989
    was told my curves would never progress
    at 19yrs old 1991, T30-L38
    2010, T38-L56--progression in one year 2011, T40-L67
    new diagnosis-kyphoscoliosis, DDD, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, 73 degree Kyphosis
    Surgery 1-09-12....10 hrs all posterior T4-sacrum & 2 cages
    Dr. Lenke-St. Louis Mo.
    Surgery to clean out infection 2-10-12
    Revision for broken rods 1-23-14

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    8,148
    As to titanium rods breakng, the key differnce is between hardness and brittleness.

    For example, you can't scratch a diamond (except with another diamond) because it is hard. But if you tap it correctly, you can shatter the diamond.

    The failure of spinal hardware is due to the brittleness, not the hardness. This is what Linda siad about metal fatigue as exemplified by the paperclip.
    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."

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