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Thread: Recovery Period

  1. #1
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    May 2005
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    Buffalo, NY
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    Recovery Period

    I am trying to schedule my daughter for full removal of all her hardware (anterior approach/T11-L3). If anyone has had all their hardware removed, can you please let me know about your recovery period: how long in the hospital, how long were you laid up at home, when did you resume "normal" activity, was the surgery easier than putting the hardware in? Anything you can think of to help me. My daughter, Kate (obviously! ) is starting college this fall and I am trying to schedule the surgery so it has the least impact on her. The Doc would like it scheduled this summer but I hate to cheat her out of her "Senior Summer"-all the grad parties and such. Next summer would be the best for her, but I don't think she can put up with this pain that long. So I am looking at her Winter break 12/17/05 till 1/17/06. Is that enough time? I can use all the help I can get!

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Hi Kates Mom,

    I had my rods put implanted in October 1998 (T5-L1). I was in the hospital (Johns Hopkins) for two weeks. (I expected one week, but a post-op infection kept me there for an extra week.) It took me 3-1/2 months to get back to work part-time and and by 4-1/2 months I was traveling overseas. I was still on some pain meds for another month or two, but not very much.

    I had my rods -- all of them -- removed in September 2000. I was in the hospital for ONE NIGHT, and back to work after three weeks. I still took some pain meds for a few weeks, but believe me, the removal surgery was a cakewalk compared to the first surgery.

    Removal really doesn't have to be a big deal, and that said by someone a lot older than your daughter.

    I wish you and Kate all the best.
    bonniep

  4. #4
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    Thanks Bonnie P!
    It was nice that when I was reading your post last nite my daughter happened to walk into the room and read it over my shoulder! I think it helped her as much as me to read your reply!
    If you don't mind, can I ask why you had to have your hardware removed?
    Again, THANK YOU so much for your reply!!

    Thank you too Linda!
    I just found this forum and haven't been able to get to all the articles you referenced...they were all very helpful and informative! It's so nice to have a support group of people who know exactly what you are going through!

  5. #5
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    Hi Kate's Mom,

    Like a lot of people who have written in to this site, I had my rods removed because they were iritating the surrounding tissues and muscles, and protruding enough to be very, very uncomfortable when I sat in a hard-backed chair, etc.. It felt wonderful to get them out !!!!

    Quick question: I'm not certain why Kate is having her rods removed, but has her doc taken any kind of CT scan, or nuclear bone scan, to try to determine whether or not her fusions are solid? Even though these tests don't guarantee anything, it may be worthwhile to get "some" idea of what is going on inside before the surgery.

    Again, best of luck,
    bonniep

  6. #6
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    May 2005
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    Buffalo, NY
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    Hi Bobbie P
    Like you, Kate is having her hardware removed because of the pain it is causing her. You can feel the rod through her skin and there are times that it is more pronounced than others. She also has severe lower back pain as well as the "rod pain".
    She did have a CT scan a couple of months ago. Like the X-Rays, it was inconclusive as to whether all her fusions are solid. Are the nuclear bone scans more conclusive? Her doctor says there is one that is "questionable" but can't be sure. He says if he scrapes it while he's in there removing the hardware it should finish fusing if it hasn't already.
    If he takes the rod out without her spine being completely fused I am worried about the long term stability of her back.
    Thanks again!
    Kate's Mom

  7. #7
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    Hi Kate's Mom...

    Dr. David Bradford of UCSF told me that the most definitive test for checking for non-fusions is a tomogram, but not even it is 100%.

    Regards,
    Linda

  8. #8
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    Hi again,

    I'm not sure when a nuclear bone scan is appropriate, or whether it can even be performed while the hardware is still in place. I, unfortuanately, did have some problems starting about six months afetr my rods were removed. At that time, my doc did a nuclear bone scan and was able to tell that I had developed two areas of failed fusion. Now, it probably wouldn't have mattered if he had done the test before the surgery because according to my operative reports, the doctor thoroghly examined my spine during the surgery to remove the rods and found absolutely no failed fusions or problems at that time. If that is acurate, my fusions were fine at the time of the surgery, and I still developed a problem later on. So, I am sad to say, a test ahead of time may not be any guarantee anyway, but it may lead to a more informed decision, and perhaps, some idea of what to expect.

    Sounds to me like you're doing all the right stuff.

    Best of luck,
    bonniep

  9. #9
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    Hi Linda,

    I always thought that a CT Scan is a form of tomogram. Is there actually a difference between the two?

    bonniep

  10. #10
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    Hi...

    They are different, but I'm not positive about how. I think the difference is that the regular tomogram is not computer-enhanced. You can read a description of both tests here:

    http://www.drdillin.com/education/ba...t_tomogram.htm

    Regrds,
    Linda

  11. #11
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    Apr 2005
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    Just to share my experiences,

    I had a tomogram ONLY when my rod broke, and that is the easiest way to see if the fusion is intact. Hearing stories about failed fusions after the rod is taken out is the reason I will wait for now. I hear about progress from many doctors saying that in the future, they will perform laser in spinal surgeries, dunno what that means but I hope progress will happen soon. I honestly thought that when my rod broke, they could just go in there and repair it, just like they do with hardware and that was wishful thinking

    Two days after I had my tomogram, I had another test in nuclear medicine with a Gallum 67 to see if I had an infection.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2003
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    Maryland
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    Thanks, Linda. I see what you mean about technique being computer enhanced and one not, but it beats me as to which approach would be better for determining possible failed fusions. I guess that's one of the reasons why I'm not an M.D., huh? If you ever get a more expansive explanation, would you mind posting it for all of us?

    Many thanks,
    bonniep

  13. #13
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    Hi Bonnie...

    I think CTs are normally considered to be not as useful in seeing pseudarthroses.

    Regards,
    Linda

  14. #14
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    Feb 2005
    Location
    Wales, UK
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    Hi
    I've just had my hardware removed on Tuesday (except for one hook that they couldn't take out). I had my first surgery last year to have the hardware put in but couldn't stand the pain. The surgeon told me that the longer you have the hardware in the harder they are to remove. The operation only took one hour!! Which is nothing in comparison to the seven hours it took to put them in. I was only in hospital for three days and I am feeling a lot better already. Obviously I've got some pain from the operation itself but apart from that things are going well. I am taking very mild painkillers and anti inflamatory tablets, which is alot less than I was taking before the operation. My surgeon and physiotherapist both told me that the recovery should be much less than for the first operation. I hope everything goes well for Kate.

    Laura

  15. #15
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    Thanks Laura!
    I'm sure you'll feel better day by day. I'm glad everything went well for you and it didn't take that long. May I ask whether you had an anterior or posterior approach?
    I had to take Kate to the emergency room over the weekend for her pain. She has Lor-Tab but has been taking it for 2 years already and it's making her sick whenever she takes it now. The Tylenol with codeine they prescribed doesn't even touch her pain. They gave her muscle relaxers in the hospital which helped a bit but put her right to sleep. I talked to her Doc today who said he's going to see if he can schedule surgery ASAP. I just hope I am not jumping into the surgery thing too fast. Like the surgeons always say, there are no guarantees.
    Thanks again!
    Kate's Mom (aka Kathy)

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