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Thread: My Revision Experience/ Picture of Broken Rod

  1. #1
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    Apr 2005
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    My Revision Experience/ Picture of Broken Rod

    Hello all-

    My name is Anna, and I'm 18 years old, and I recently had revision surgery to remove a Harrington rod I had put in place five years ago. About a year ago, I discovered that my rod had actually broken, and I started having really sharp, constant pain around the area of the fracture.

    On June 3rd, I went into the hospital for revision surgery. The pain/recovery was NOTHING like the original. I was up walking the day of the surgery, and I went home the day after. I was much more alert right after the surgery than I had been for the first. The pain lasted for about a week, but then I started gaining more and more mobility and feeling increasingly better and stronger every day. I took myself off of percocet and started taking Tylenol about the 5th day, the percocet made me very nautious and sick.

    I'm so, so grateful that I had the revision surgery done. I now have no more pain, and it's helped me feel better about my back now that I have all that metal out. Who wants something broken in them anyway?

    During the surgery, my doctor determined that the rod broke because of a pseudoarthrosis (failure of fusion) in that specific area. Apparently, micro-movement of the spine in that area eventually built up stress on the rod and broke the metal. Go figure! He removed the rod and added some extra bone graft to that spot, so hopefully I'll be home free from here.

    A month has passed, and the only complications I have developed have been a hematoma (pocket filled with blood that's common after surgery) that re-absorbed into my body in about a week, allergies to the adhesive used on the dressings, and some difficult emotional problems -- feeling sad, tired, having bad thoughts and fears about the surgery in general. I'm hopping that the stress/emotional problems I'm having will eventually get better once all the medicine has left my body.

    My doctor used the same incision as before, and my scar healed much better and faster than the previous surgery. So, I would definately recommend it to all those who are questioning having revision done. It's made my life so much better.

    I was able to keep all the metal my doctor took out of my back, and I thought you all might like to see a variation of what's inside your body. The picture linked below is of a titanium Harrington rod, measuring about 11 inches long when fitted together. The various clamps and wires were used to bolt the rod to my spine. Sorry I couldn't just attatch it, it was too big Enjoy!

    Picture of Broken Harrington Rod and Other Hardware

    ~Anna
    Last edited by guacamoleoly; 07-07-2005 at 01:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi Anna...

    For the record, that's not a Harrington rod. (Harrington rods had areas at the top and bottom of the rod to ratchet the hooks.)

    I'd like to encourage you to continue to get checked every year or so for awhile, to be sure that your curves aren't increasing.

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
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    Apr 2005
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    Ha! My apologies. That's what my doctor told me it was...Now I feel stupid *grins*.

  4. #4
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    Hi...

    No need to feel stupid! Some people use the term "Harrington Rod" in the generic sense (like Kleenix).

    --Linda

  5. #5
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    By the way, Anna, who was your surgeon and where are you located?

    --Linda

  6. #6
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    Apr 2005
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    I'm happy that you feel better Anna, I was wondering about you

    I am seeing my second opinion tomorrow(Friday), and will see what he has to say about my broken rod. I have a big list of questions! I have read here and weighed a few of my options, that I don't really like for now but will see. My ortho that I have been seeing still thinks that unless the pain increases, to wait for now b/c of what could happen in the future if I take it out, etc.

    I was supposed to have an appointment in October for this second opinion, but this lady who is head of secretaries in that hospital went to my dad's shoe store and helped me out, It's good but makes me wonder why they didn't have any space before What clout will do...

    I would have liked to see a pic of your X Rays with the broken rod before you got the surgery, would have been nice to compare it with mine... The hardware they took out must weigh some, right?

    Anyway, keep on the good attitude and hopefully getting healthier and stronger
    Last edited by sweetness514; 07-07-2005 at 02:01 PM.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2005
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    Linda, my doctor was Fred Warren over at Ocshner Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana . Excellent, excellent doctor. Very caring, attentive, informative and reassuring. He's been my doctor since I was 13 and I've never thought once of switching.

    Sweetness! I'm going to go back and try to get copies of my x-rays before and after the rods were broken, and also after my revision surgery. Believe it or not, I actually haven't had a post-op x-ray yet, I'm going to get one for my 3rd post op appt. in August.

    The hardware actually doesn't weigh very much. I don't have a scale, so I can't really weigh it, but it's not significantly heavy. Probably not even a pound. Not sure. It IS heavy for being a thin peice of metal, though. And those clamps also weigh a lot.

    How long ago was your original surgery? It took about a year from finding the break in my rod for me to decide to go ahead and get the revision done. I'm headed to college in August so I wanted to make sure everything was taken care of, aaand I got tired of being in pain all the time and everyone telling me it was all in my head lol. You should definitely ask your doctor about the expected operation time, recovery time, exactly what he'll be taking out, if you'll be in ICU after (I wasn't, just went from recovery into my own private room) that sort of thing. Just make sure you make the right decision for *you*.

  8. #8
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    I sure will ask all these questions and more. Right now one ortho says no surgery for mow and tomorrow we'll see what the second ortho says. His secretary says to take it out but put a new one, wich I'm not too thrilled to do at this time.

    I had my first surgery in '97, almost 8 years ago. I had a second one in '99, to take out one hook on the upper right side. It went well.

    I discovered my broken rod this past March, a year after it broke and they said it couldn't

  9. #9
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    Sweetness...

    If your surgeon told you that your rod couldn't break, I'd like to encourage you to get a second opinion about revision surgery.

    --Linda

  10. #10
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    Austin, TX
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    That's a really cool picture of the hardware. I've often wondered what mine looks like. Thanks for posting that!
    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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    Apr 2005
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    Sweetness--

    Just curious, has your spine curved any more since your rod broke? Mine...didn't. At all. Which I'm very glad about, of course lol. Just wondering.

  12. #12
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    Hey Anna...from what they know, the curve didn't progress but they didn't calculate it. My two orthos told me that as long as I have hardware and my bone graft is intact, they think it is fused and won't move. I wanted to know if you had all your hardware taken out or just that broken rod? Also, be sure to check your iron level, as it can make you tired and emotional, who knows...

    Linda, my ortho told me that the rod couldn't break, THEN after me pressing him since I felt clicking he said that it could break but not easily at all, and THEN after he saw the X rays and had proof, well he explained to me all the reasons why it could break and I think a lot of doctors say all these things to not alarm patients, although it can be frustrating

    Well today I just went to see the best ortho in my town(considered), my second opinion. He gave me three options:

    1)To not do anything, if I don't have too much pain, as some people live with their broken rods.

    2)To get surgery, and then they can see if I have pseudo arthritis and if there are loose screws as well as the broken rod, so they can reconstruct with a new piece of rod, bigger screws(don't like that ), and add bone graft. All this is risky and has no guarantees that I won't be in more pain than I am now.

    3)If the bone graft is all fine, to remove all hardware or just the broken rod but that is no guarantee that it won't curve later on.

    He says that even if my tomogram shows that I don't have pseudoarthritis, I can have some and they can see it if they operate, wich is frustrating as hell since I don't know what causes it and I don't know why they made me pass a tomogram if they can't see it 100%. Sorry for the rambling but I didn't sleep a wink as I was nervous and am bummed out

    Well, for now I will take some antiflammatory pills for a sharp pain that I have on the upper right side, as it is not due to the broken rod according to them and due to my neck, as well as go to acupuncture to try to at least take care of that problem.

    I will see after if I get surgery or not.

  13. #13
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    Jun 2005
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
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    Oh ouch!

    That doesn't sound good. *gives virtual hug*
    Age 28
    diagnosed at age 12
    wore a boston brace until age 14
    No surgery, was on "wait and watch" till recently. Got a SpineCor (Jan 27th) to help ease the pain.
    T-curve 73 degrees with severe rotation (curves to the right)
    L-curve 45 degrees with slightly less severe rotation than my T-curve (curves to the left)

    1994 - 5'10" - T-?/L-? (i forget what they really were)
    2006 - 5' 4" - T-56/L-40
    2008/09 - 5' 4" - T-73/L-45

  14. #14
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    Hi Sweetness...

    Dr. David Bradford once told me that rods don't break unless there's a pseudarthrosis. I trust him, so I think there's a reasonably good chance that you've got at least one non-fusion. Do you have pain? Who are the surgeons that you're seeing?

    Regards,
    Linda

  15. #15
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    Apr 2005
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    I have some pain, with the crunching and clicking. I'm seeing the best team here in Montreal, Dr. Ouellette who is in charg of four hospitals He's very nice, attentive and good since my original surgeon who left town to open his own hospital in Switzerland(Dr. Max Aebi) has put him in charge. He does pediatrics and revision, that's all he does all the time.

    I'm probably going to have surgery, but for now I'm taking care of another pain that has not much to do with the broken rod and when I do decide to get surgery, we will discuss what to do, as there are many options.

    As for pseudoarthritis, he did mention that it can break without having it, but usually does break when there is some and if there is some the other rod could break too My question to you Linda, is it lack of calcium or people other than smokers who get it? I don't drink, eat well, don't smoke and take calcium.

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