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Thread: To Remove or Not to Remove: A Dilema!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    To Remove or Not Remove?


    I had rods implanted in 1998 (T5-L1).

    I had them removed in 2000 because I was experiencing a lot of pain and discomfit from them and my doctor was pretty confident that my fusions were solid at that time.

    In 2002, I was re-instrumented (T5-L2) because I had two failed fusions that were causing severe pain and increased curve.

    Now, I am once again experienceing a lot of discomfit from the hardware. I went to a new surgeon, (my original surgeon is no longer practicing). He said I should leave well enough alone; that statiistically, 20% of all patients who have their rods removed end up having problems with their fusions.

    I also saw another doctor in NYC. He said the rods should definitely be removed. He was also expressed concern over the fact that I had an infection after my first surgery, and inmplied that the bacteria could still be damaging to my fusions even though I am not experiencing any active infection now.

    He said that when he removes the rods, if he finds any non-fused unions, he could repair them with much smaller, less intrusive hardware than I currently have. However, he did say that if I have more than one failed fusion, [which is a possibility since last time I had 2], he would want to perform an anterior surgery instead of posterior. That sounds pretty scarey to me and I am afraid it could mean yet "another" surgery. I don't know if they do both anterior and posterior at the same time?

    Here is my real dilema: Do I go ahead with another surgery to remove the rods, knowing how risky surgeries are, and that my fusions may fail again once the rods are removed? Or do I keep on doing what I am doing -- experiencing pain and limitations, and possibly having a dormant infection weakening my fusions? I know there are no guarantees either way.

    Does anyone have any good questions I should be asking my doctors to help me get clear? Any advice or insights? Any smart ways to be thinking about this? Any similar experiences?

    Last edited by bonniep; 04-24-2005 at 12:50 PM.

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