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Thread: Harrington rods causing problems so soon?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2

    Harrington rods causing problems so soon?

    Hi, Iím new here. I do not have scoliosis, but I do have Harrington Rods. At age 16 I broke my back and was partially paralyzed. Right after my accident my back was fused with bone and Harrington Rods were implanted for stability.
    That was 9 years ago, Iím 25 now, and I still have a lot of pain associated with the pulling of the rods.
    For the past few years it hasnít been bad. I just chalked up the pain to being a back injury patient, but lately the pain has been interfering with my life. I canít sit up very long at my work desk without feeling strained, I cant sleep because I turn every half hour due to stiffness, I cant concentrate because of the pain.

    My family doctor always just puts me on a round of anti-inflammatory meds and some vicodin. But now he is suggesting that I might consider having the rods taken out. I was not told this when I got the surgery, but the rods were not meant to be permanent, only semi-permanent. Plus he said I should be able to just rely on the bone fusion to keep my back safe.

    I talked to an orthopedic surgeon and he seemed very concerned that I was given Harrington Rods in the first place. As he said, I had my surgery in 2002, a time when Harrington Rods had fallen out of favor for safer methods of fusion.

    Just now Iím learning that these things can cause cysts, disk rupture, and the metal can even fail!!! I NEVER was told that!

    Iím scared to follow my doctorís advice and have them removed, because Iím pretty sure the recovery will be nearly as intensive as when they were put in. But Iím afraid to let them lurk there in my back just waiting to cause problems. Now they feel like a ticking time bomb.

    So, my question is, who has had their rods removed completely and gone without any implants, just bone fusion? How was the recovery? Does your back feel better or worse? Is it odd to suddenly have a little more movement in the back, or is it scary to not have that constant support? In spinal patients is it possible to gain more movement and feeling when the weight of the rods are taken off the nerves in the back?

    Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    Hi Laura...

    Removal of implants is usually much easier than the initial surgery, but not always. I would be concerned about removing the rods until your specialist is fairly certain that the rods are causing your pain. The pain you describe is not typically what we hear from people whose implants are causing pain.

    I'd encourage you to get a second opinion from a specialist who has a lot of experience in treating patients with prior fusions. Where are you located?

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Houston TX
    Posts
    288
    Quote Originally Posted by laura_huser View Post
    Iím scared to follow my doctorís advice and have them removed, because Iím pretty sure the recovery will be nearly as intensive as when they were put in. But Iím afraid to let them lurk there in my back just waiting to cause problems. Now they feel like a ticking time bomb.
    Laura.

    I would suggest to find out the cause of your pain. No sense removing the rod if it isn't the problem. Its not a time bomb, just a puzzle.

    p

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    389
    Laura, as Linda and P have suggested, you'd be smart to get a second opinion and be absolutely certain that the rods are the problem. If they ARE, however, it's not the end of the world. I had mine removed 2 yrs after the original fusion and it was not nearly as traumatic as the first surgery. If your fusion is solid at all points, most surgeons feel that there really is no further need for the rods. Good luck in your research.

    JoAnn

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