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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    83

    Thoracic rod removal?

    I'm frustrated to be writing in the "Revision" section, but it is what it is....

    I had my surgery in January 2015 (fusion T3-sacrum with pelvic fixation). Overall, I'm doing well, but am having pain in my right scapular area and left SI joint area. The doctor has recommended taking out the iliac screw on the left side (I'm ok with that), as well as taking out 5 inches of the rod on the right side of my spine near the scapula. It is closer to the skin than the rod on the other side (I can feel it through my skin - yuck!) and he says my muscles are basically "catching" on it. With removal of three screws and 5 inches of rod, he thinks that will be resolved and I will have less pain. He would go in through the original incision and open it up by about 5 inches. I guess it's my "zipper" now!

    I am very hesitant to have more surgery!! I had some serious complications, and while he assures me this is a totally different procedure, I'm still worried. I'm also concerned about the recuperation and the possibility that it won't help reduce the pain. I also have to check with him on how it will impact the stability of the thoracic fusion. I think he said it wouldn't be an issue since I have a rod on the left side of the spine. I asked about PT but he said he doesn't think it would help, since it's my muscle rubbing on something. Of course, the muscle spasm from that is what hurts.

    Has anyone experienced anything like this? Thoughts?
    Thanks
    T4-Sacrum fusion, with pelvic fixation in January 2015, Dr. Lonner in NYC
    10 osteotomies, rotation from 25 to 2
    Diagnosed at age 11 with double curve, 36 and 45 degrees, Braced for 2.5 years
    At time of surgery, curves were 45 and 65 degrees
    Chronic back pain, worsening, since age 11
    Tried every pain management procedure, acupuncture, chiropractor, physical therapy ever created
    Mom of 2 cuties!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    758
    Yes I have had experience in this. I did have 4 of my screws removed on my left side and rod cut , the rest of everything remains there. It was not a big deal more like a bug bite. However my right scapula has the one that was catching. It kept snapping and catching for years. PT would make it better but it would happen again. Then finally my right shoulder got trapped down . The shoulder blade would not move on it's own. The end result was it wasn't the hardware at all it was a left over rib deformity from scoliosis. The surgery was to take out 3 ribs but everyone decided it was too risky. So the university upper extremity specialist removed a portion of my shoulder blade and that allowed my scapula to move more normally. It worked for about 5 months and the one of the muscles got weak and a month ago I had a muscle transfer.
    So I would say go see an upper extremity specialist at a larger hospital because it may not be the hardware. I always would tell my Dr that it felt like the muscles were spastic but it was because the scapula was not tracking correctly. So before you do anything have them do a Ct scan and look for a rib deformity. Have them do it soon before the muscle gives up. This spanned about 4 years for me. It took a special person looking in the right spot to find it. The hardware may not be the issue at all.
    Last edited by jackieg412; 04-18-2016 at 01:37 PM.
    T10-pelvis fusion 12/08
    Fractured t-9 six days out of surgery
    C5,6,7 fusion 9/10
    PJK at t-9
    T2--T10 fusion 2/11
    Removal of left side t6-t10. 8/14
    C 4-5 fusion 11/14
    Right scapulectomy 6/15
    Right pectoralis major muscle transfer to scapula
    To replace the action of Serratus Anterior muscle 3/16

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    83
    Thank you so much for your response! I have followed your experiences on here, but wasn't sure about the original cause for you. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. I appreciate you sharing it and will definitely follow up with your suggestions. So the actual removal surgery was ok? It probably feels like that was a small blip with everything else that has happened. Are there things you would do differently, besides seeing a specialist?
    T4-Sacrum fusion, with pelvic fixation in January 2015, Dr. Lonner in NYC
    10 osteotomies, rotation from 25 to 2
    Diagnosed at age 11 with double curve, 36 and 45 degrees, Braced for 2.5 years
    At time of surgery, curves were 45 and 65 degrees
    Chronic back pain, worsening, since age 11
    Tried every pain management procedure, acupuncture, chiropractor, physical therapy ever created
    Mom of 2 cuties!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    758
    Hardware removal is easy in the thoracic. Yes I would have sought the help of the super upper extremity specialist sooner. I kept complaining of the problem of the catching and snapping and kept doing PT off and on for 4 years. It would get the shoulder blade moving better but the it would get caught again. The PT taught me to stop the movement before it would catch. It was like a standing order, if it got caught, I usually could not get it out myself. So the PT would. But then no one could get it uncaught. It is uncomfortable and the arm does work right. Then the muscle just gave up and the shoulder dropped and I couldn't keep my balance well.I threw a fit with my doctor group and then they paid attention to the problem. I was sent to a shoulder specialist within the group and he listened. Otherwise it would have been more PT. He ordered a CT scan of the right side that didn't show any problem. ( that was the trapped side). But we knew it wasn't nerve or muscle related because of an EMG but it was caught. So it had to be bone related. I was sent to a major university specialist in Chicago. He reviewed all tests but said he needed a CT of entire chest. Not just the trouble side. That is when the problem showed up. So make sure the scan is the whole chest. Too much radiation to do two. The upper extremity specialist had my spine team and the one at the university review the problem. It was decided not to remove the 3 rib bumps but part of scapula.
    You asked what I would have done different and that would have been not to just keep doing PT. I think if we would have done the strange scapula partial removal sooner maybe I wouldn't have had to do the muscle transfer. It is the surgery before the salvage surgery. And that would be fusing the scapula to the ribs. It would permanently cause a dysfunction in arm movement.
    If you explore this I can send you a copy of both surgery reports to show your doctor.
    T10-pelvis fusion 12/08
    Fractured t-9 six days out of surgery
    C5,6,7 fusion 9/10
    PJK at t-9
    T2--T10 fusion 2/11
    Removal of left side t6-t10. 8/14
    C 4-5 fusion 11/14
    Right scapulectomy 6/15
    Right pectoralis major muscle transfer to scapula
    To replace the action of Serratus Anterior muscle 3/16

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