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Thread: Causes of broken hardware?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    459

    Causes of broken hardware?

    I'm 7 months post-op and have been on this board since last Summer. I've seen a few posts on the "1st time surgical" board about broken hardware and people having to go back in for surgery due to it. What have been some of the causes of hardware breaking? My surgeon has told me to basically resume my normal pre-op life with cautions of course, but I'd like to know if there are things I should look out for that could cause breakage to my hardware.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    97
    Hi there - Not really sure what causes it, but I thought I would tell you I had surgery 21 years ago and recent xrays show no sign of wear and tear!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    166
    I think the big cause is due to a bone graft not forming solidly in an area. If the graft doesn't fuse that area, the only thing holding the spine straight is the hardware. And over time, the hardware will be under stress pehaps enough to break it.
    Blair

    Dec 15th, 2003 @ age of 20
    Posterior Fusion and CD Horizon instrumentation T2-L1.
    Surgery by Dr. Herkowitz- Beaumont Hospital of Royal Oak, Michigan
    Excellent correction of 52 degree single left thoracolumbar curve. Slight curve remains in unfused lumbar region but seems stable.
    February 5, 2005- Failed Scar Revision Surgery
    September 17, 2005- 2nd Failed Scar Revision.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    6,797
    Hi Heidi...

    I think that hardware can be implanted in such a way that there's too much stress put on the rods, and they break. But, I think they mostly break because there's too much movement in one spot before fusion takes hold, or because fusion never takes in that spot. I've had several surgeons describe it as "like a paperclip" in that if the rods are bent (however slightly) over and over again at the same spot, they will eventually break.

    Regards,
    Linda

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    459
    Are there any figures out there on hardware breaking or not breaking?

    I guess I'm feeling so good now and I'm only at 7 months post-op, that the next thing for me to keep in mind is not to do anything that might put me in jeopardy of hurting myself or breaking the hardware.

    I didn't have any x-rays at my 6 month check-up and won't have any again until 1 year (to the day) after my surgery, so I'm assuming that all was well at my 4-month check-up and that there was nothing (no issues with the fusion not taking hold) that my surgeon saw that would have made him want to see more x-rays at the 6-month mark.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    Hi Heidi...

    Just so you know, it's perfectly normal to wonder about your implants. I thought I was long past worrying about whether there was something wrong with my implants, but was convinced earlier this year that I had broken something. (So far, it doesn't look like I was correct.)

    Here's an abstract from a study on pseudarthrosis in adults with scoliosis implants:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q...346&query_hl=1

    The abstract doesn't mention it, but I'm guessing that a significant number of the 17% of patients who have an area of non-fusion will go on to have their rods break if they don't do anything about it.

    Regards,
    Linda

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    I want to mention a few things about broken rods and screws that may come loose. It took at least a year to even see that my rod had a crack in it and now 6 months later we see that the rod is completely broken, well pain itself does indicate that as well Also, scews coming loose may not show on X rays as well, as I will be checked out during surgery if some are and if the fusion is weak in some areas.

    I also have read a lot of posts where some people had their broken rods taken out and only added fusion without putting new instrumentation. That is not a good way to go about it as the fusion will not take if there is not a new rod holding it for the first year at least. Just a thought.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    1

    Rod Broke After 25 Good Years

    I have found out recently, while getting a chest x-ray, that the top inch to inch and 1/2 (right at thumb screw) has broken off. I believe I know when it happened(back in June while trimming high bushed w/ prunning shears).I felt the snap followed by some pain and swelling but nothing to indicate a major problem. I had the surgery 25 years ago this year and have had very little pain or problems during those years.I had the Harrington rod installed. Now at 38 with no insurance and no job, I wonder If I need to be concerned about the breakage now. Can the broken pieces cause nerve or muscle damage?
    Also, I know that the rod may have stopped the scoliosis curve, but my spine has continued to twist over the years and I believe that that may have contributed to the breakage also. At this time there is no "pain", only a "pinch"sensation b/w my shoulders at the point of the break.
    Can anyone offer any advise?

    Sincerely,
    GaPeach:-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    Hi GaPeach...

    I was told by two orthos that only pain from any broken hardware can make you decide if you want revision surgery. My pain increased over the last year and a half since I broke my rod and still is, with possibilitites of other screws coming loose, as it destabalizes the hardware. I also felt it a big snap when the rod broke. Now the only way to find out if a fusion is failing and needs to be reinforced is by having surgery. A visit to the ortho would be advised, and time will tell if your pain increases or goes away, everybody's different.

    Good luck.

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