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Thread: Can you curve more after metal work is removed??

  1. #1
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    Can you curve more after metal work is removed??

    Hi
    I am 26 years old and from the UK. In 1994 i had a spinal fusion for idiopathic scoliosis. Pre op i was 74 degrees curved, post op 54 degrees. I also had an anteria release ( rib reduction forthe hump on my back) the fusion was high sorry cant give exact levels as don't know.
    In 1996 i bagan to get a lot of pain and the harrington rod was removed as it was "taught" they never gave a proper reason that was all they said. Since then i led a normal ish life, unableto work full time as my backwas so unpredictable. Three years ago i had a little boy by c section and all has beengoing ok, up untill the last few months. I have been getting bad pains again that are not really in "a" specific area. I have also noticed that my tops keeps shifting to one side and i have never really noticed that before. I was told that once your spine is fused is cannot curve any more as it is solid bone. I have a lost some weight and have been walking and it has not improved the pain at all.
    If anyone is out there in the same boat i would really like to talk as i really don't know whats goign on? Is this it for the rest of my life? I have been to my Gp and all he has done is prescibed me with painkillers, anti inflamaty and muscle relaxants, surley i can't keep popping pills can i?
    I look forward to hearing from anyone as i don't know anyone else with my condition and could really do with a talk.
    thanks for reading this
    jo

  2. #2
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    Hi Jo!
    I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you but I would like to add to your post. My daughter is having her hardware removed 7/15/05 and we were told by her Ortho. surgeon that her spine is fused now and won't "recurve" after the hardware is removed. I have my reservations about that as well.
    After numerous x-rays (I'm surprised she doesn't glow in the dark now! ) her doc is still undecided about whether or not one of the fusions is fully solid. He said he will check it when he removes the hardware. If it is not fully fused he will actually fracture it so that her body fixes it like a broken bone. Like you, I wonder if she can "recurve" after removal, especially seeing as her fusion might already be weak and she still has a 35 degree curve in her upper back that was supposed to adjust after the 1st surgery. It has a little but you can still see quite a curve and her shoulder blades are still very uneven.
    In my daughters case I guess time will tell. In your case I guess I would go see a spine doctor to get your curves remeasured. I am fairly new at this so that is just my opinion, nothing based in fact.
    I hope everything goes well for you!
    Kathy (kate's mom)

  3. #3
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    Hi Jo...

    It's next to impossible to tell if a fusion is solid. If it isn't solid, and the implants are removed, you can indeed re-curve. You should try to get referred back to a surgeon.

    Regards,
    Linda

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine
    Hi Jo...

    It's next to impossible to tell if a fusion is solid. If it isn't solid, and the implants are removed, you can indeed re-curve. You should try to get referred back to a surgeon.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Hi Linda,
    When you say it is almost impossible to tell, did you mean with the tests or when they are actually looking at the fusion during surgery? Kate's surgeon is the one who told us about fracturing the fusion during surgery if it is not solid.
    Thanks,
    Kathy

  5. #5
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    Hi Kathy...

    I think areas of non fusion (pseudarthroses) are USUALLY obvious during surgery. I have, however, known of a few people whose fractures weren't seen during surgery, but who later had rods break because of a non-fusion.

    Regards,
    Linda

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine
    Hi Kathy...

    I think areas of non fusion (pseudarthroses) are USUALLY obvious during surgery. I have, however, known of a few people whose fractures weren't seen during surgery, but who later had rods break because of a non-fusion.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Hi Linda.
    I'm not a doctor by any means, but it just seems to me that if he factures the fusion, making it weaker and then removes the hardware supporting her spine, doesn't she run the risk of breaking her back? Am I way off the mark here?
    Thanks again,
    Kathy

  7. #7
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    Hi Kathy...

    I would hope that your daughter's surgeon is talking about breaking up the old fusion to correct a problem and then re-fusing and reinstrumenting.

    Regards,
    Linda

  8. #8
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    i had an xray in 2000 and the surgon said everything was ok, Do you think that it can just start to curve for no reason? i know you are not a medical advisor, its just nice to here an opinion!

  9. #9
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    Hi Jo...

    You can curve above and below the fusion, but I think that if your curve increases within the fusion area (beyond a small amount of settling that occurs in the early post-operative stage), there's something wrong with the implants and/or the fusion.

    Regards,
    Linda

  10. #10
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    Just wanted to share my personal experience. I recently had x-rays and compared them to my '91 x-rays with a spine surgeon. He pointed out that my curve had progressed after surgery probably due to a growth spurt. I guess it is possible that it happened before I was completely fused, but I don't know if that is true. (btw I still have my hardware in)
    Does most people's curves progress only during puberty or does it continue after one stops growing? or is it just at a slower rate?
    Also, is the only reason for having hardware removed because of complications, or do some people just have them taken out just becuase?
    Just curious...
    Harrington Rods in 1991 at age 15
    Surgery at Scottish Rite in Dallas, TX

    Fused from T-4 to L-3

  11. #11
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    hello,
    i had my rod out in 1996 (no real reasons were given for this, only i was in real pain and removing the rod was their soloution)and have had xrays since then and the surgon never said that it had moved. I am now 26 and just wonderd if at that age it would curve again as i should be fully grown by now!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine
    Hi Kathy...

    I would hope that your daughter's surgeon is talking about breaking up the old fusion to correct a problem and then re-fusing and reinstrumenting.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Hi Linda,
    According to Kate's surgeon, he has to fracture the fusion that isn't solid (if there is one) so that her body treats it like a broken bone and fixes it. He is taking all her hardware out, except for the cages where the fusions are. That is what has me worried. If he weakens her spine and takes her hardware out, can't she recurve again?
    We are going for her pre-op visit on the 11th and I have a page full of questions to ask him. Right now, Kate is basking in the Florida sun while I slave away in Buffalo , but she needs to get away from all of this anyway! She is a basket case - rightfully so, I guess!
    Kathy

  13. #13
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    Hi Kathy...

    I'd certainly trust the surgeon, unless of course, you've got reason to think he might not know what he's doing. I'll be curious to hear how it all goes.

    Regards,
    Linda

  14. #14
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    re-curving

    I am living proof that a fused spine(never had hardware with the original fusion) will recurve.

    In 1956 I had a 2 stage posterior fusion T-4 to L-2. I was 14 at the time. Bone from the bone bank was used. I spent a year in bed, with a series of 3 plaster casts to enable the fusion to heal. I was told that the fusion would maintain the correction.

    Gradually my spine re-curved over 40+ years. At age 35 a cousin said I looked more crooked than before. I insisted it was impossible. At age 52 I visited Dr. Keim who measured my curve at 64 degrees. I was waking up at night with pain at the end of my fusion. He said I wouldn't get worse because my fusion was "solid". At age 59 I went to Dr. Boachie who measured me at 80 deg. I had an old lumbar X-ray from 20 years before. That compensatory curve measured 40 deg; it had doubled in 20 years.

    I want to add that I never smoked and do not have osteoporosis which would have contributed to the weakening.

    I had a successful revision in 2002 with a 50% correction.

    Karen
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  15. #15
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    Hi Karen...

    I think most of the patients who had long fusions prior to Harrington rods have had their curves increase significantly. I know at least half a dozen of "your kind." :-)

    Regards,
    Linda

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