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Thread: Infection, non-union??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    311

    Infection, non-union??

    Hi all again,

    I saw my surgeon yesterday about my upper back pain. Again, I have very sharp pain around T7, T8 and have had it for a little over a month. It hurts everytime I move and the muscles in between my shoulder blades burn. It also feels like someone is putting pressure on my spine even when there is nothing there. I'm using Lidocaine patches, which aren't helping much.

    My surgeon said that there is a 40-50% chance it is a muscular issue. Otherwise he said it is an infection or a non-union (he saw two suspicious places on the CT scan). We're giving it another 6 weeks to see what happens.

    My question for you all is: if you have had an infection or non-union issue, what were your symptoms and can you tell me anything else about it?

    Thanks,
    Anya
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

    Previously 55 degree thoracolumbar curve
    Surgery June 5, 2007 - Dr. Clifford Tribus, University of Wisconsin Hospital
    19 degrees post-op!

    http://abhbarry.blogspot.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    bucks county PA
    Posts
    156
    Hi Anya,
    Sorry to hear things aren't going so well. Don't know about non-union but sure do know about infection. Being so far out from surgery I don't know if symptoms would be very similar. But I was only home a few days when I couldn't even lift my foot enough to step onto the scale (I had wanted to see if I had lost any weight after surgery). I was also running an extremely high fever. By the next day couldn't walk at all even with the walker. The pain was the worst I ever experienced. After 6 weeks of IV antibiotics they thought it safe to take me off. It wasn't, and I was back in with infection returning in the upper back and not able to move arms but no fever. I am now off antibiotics 6 months and every time the pain is worse or different I worry its infection returning. The 2nd time they were able to see it on the MRI I don't know how well it shows up on the CT. Did they do any blood work? They can often see if its an infection that way.
    I liked the picture of you at the Grand canyon. We took our grand-daughter there last spring. It was my 3rd time and its still amazing.
    2 60* curves, DDD, left trunk shift, some rotation, rib and lumbar humps, annular tear at L5-S1
    surgery 5/08 planning fusion T3 or T4 to sacrum with iliac fixation
    Dr. Anderson at Rothman Institute
    5/16/08 ALIF L1-L5
    5/23/08 fused T2-sacrum w/fixation and I'm all Titanium
    6/4/08 open all back up to clean out for Staph infection
    (left open with just clear dressing)
    6/6/08 recleaned and closed
    3/30/2012 revision planned, broken rod and removal of iliac bolts

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Huxley, Iowa
    Posts
    190
    I am the opposite, I don't have any experience with infection, but I do with a non-union. Unfortunately I didn't have any real signs of a non-union until the first rod broke. Granted, you are a lot further out than I was, so any pain that I was having I assumed was just healing. I was nearly 7 months out when it broke, then about 10 months out when the second one broke. I hope that is not it! Then again, I hope its not an infection either! Agh! I wish you the best of luck, please keep us posted!
    25 years old
    double 70+ degree curves before surgery
    Anterior on 11/11/08
    Posterior on 12/2/08 with titanium rods
    nearly perfect correction
    fused t-10 to pelvis
    with a hemi-vertebral osteotomy at L4

    Broke right rod at L4-L5 on 06/26/09
    Broke left rod on 10/24/09
    Revision surgery on 11/5/09 with vitallium rods
    Broke both rods again

    Had posterior than anterior revisions on 03/11 at the Twin Cities Spine Center
    Declared "FUSED" on 12/6/11

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Staten Island New York
    Posts
    298

    Infection

    I know about infection, I had the MRSA staph infection for two years, it spread from my lower back to my upper back during the 2 years. I had to be on meds for two years to keep the infection from getting worse so I could fuse and the rods can be taken out. Last March I had them removed and the staph looks to be finally gone. Once the infection is in your back it is not going to leave until all of the hardware is gone because the infection sticks to the hardware and all the medicine in the world will not help Doctors donít want to tell you but mine finally did once I did research the infection on the internet and pushed him for more answers - he said most of the people with infection donít get better until hardware is removed and it could take years of repeated surgeries before they can replace hardware until the bone has fused - (usually the infection prevents the fusion from taking place) . My doctor tried to tell me he will replace the hardware and clean out my back and it may go away but there are cells and spores that you canít see so it comes back. So they send you for many surgeries to replace hardware and clean you out until they are pretty sure you are fused (which is usually 2 years) and then they take the hardware out. I was able to handle the all meds and pain and return to work and wait 2 years to get the hardware and avoid surgery until a year ago but many people canít they canít find meds that are strong for them and canít put off the repeated surgeries and procedures until doctors feel it should be safe enough to remove the hardware. I donít want to scare you but not knowing the truth scared me and too many people that get infection s arenít told the truth about how hard it is going to be to get rid of this infection. God Bless you and be strong. Sue

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,258
    Quote Originally Posted by suzyjay View Post
    I know about infection, I had the MRSA staph infection for two years, it spread from my lower back to my upper back during the 2 years. I had to be on meds for two years to keep the infection from getting worse so I could fuse and the rods can be taken out. Last March I had them removed and the staph looks to be finally gone. Once the infection is in your back it is not going to leave until all of the hardware is gone because the infection sticks to the hardware and all the medicine in the world will not help Doctors donít want to tell you but mine finally did once I did research the infection on the internet and pushed him for more answers - he said most of the people with infection donít get better until hardware is removed and it could take years of repeated surgeries before they can replace hardware until the bone has fused - (usually the infection prevents the fusion from taking place) . My doctor tried to tell me he will replace the hardware and clean out my back and it may go away but there are cells and spores that you canít see so it comes back. So they send you for many surgeries to replace hardware and clean you out until they are pretty sure you are fused (which is usually 2 years) and then they take the hardware out. I was able to handle the all meds and pain and return to work and wait 2 years to get the hardware and avoid surgery until a year ago but many people canít they canít find meds that are strong for them and canít put off the repeated surgeries and procedures until doctors feel it should be safe enough to remove the hardware. I donít want to scare you but not knowing the truth scared me and too many people that get infection s arenít told the truth about how hard it is going to be to get rid of this infection. God Bless you and be strong. Sue
    Thanks for sharing all this Sue - and I'm glad you're feeling better now. I don't think you scared anyone but you sure provide us all with some information that could prove useful should the same thing happen to others. Blessings to you also & best wishes for continued health & healing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    Quote Originally Posted by suzyjay View Post
    I know about infection, I had the MRSA staph infection for two years, it spread from my lower back to my upper back during the 2 years. I had to be on meds for two years to keep the infection from getting worse so I could fuse and the rods can be taken out. Last March I had them removed and the staph looks to be finally gone. Once the infection is in your back it is not going to leave until all of the hardware is gone because the infection sticks to the hardware and all the medicine in the world will not help Doctors donít want to tell you but mine finally did once I did research the infection on the internet and pushed him for more answers - he said most of the people with infection donít get better until hardware is removed and it could take years of repeated surgeries before they can replace hardware until the bone has fused - (usually the infection prevents the fusion from taking place) . My doctor tried to tell me he will replace the hardware and clean out my back and it may go away but there are cells and spores that you canít see so it comes back. So they send you for many surgeries to replace hardware and clean you out until they are pretty sure you are fused (which is usually 2 years) and then they take the hardware out. I was able to handle the all meds and pain and return to work and wait 2 years to get the hardware and avoid surgery until a year ago but many people canít they canít find meds that are strong for them and canít put off the repeated surgeries and procedures until doctors feel it should be safe enough to remove the hardware. I donít want to scare you but not knowing the truth scared me and too many people that get infection s arenít told the truth about how hard it is going to be to get rid of this infection. God Bless you and be strong. Sue
    Hi Sue...

    While some people end up having to have their implants removed, the majority actually are fine after just 1 or 2 clean outs.

    Regards,
    Linda

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    311
    sue,

    How did you know you had an infection? What were your symptoms?
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

    Previously 55 degree thoracolumbar curve
    Surgery June 5, 2007 - Dr. Clifford Tribus, University of Wisconsin Hospital
    19 degrees post-op!

    http://abhbarry.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Staten Island New York
    Posts
    298
    I havenít heard of anyone completely rid of the infection from just being cleaned out. My doctor said it was possible but low chance. I read many places on the Internet it can appear to be gone but the bug can be in a person body for a while before they get any symptoms and that MRSA staph is very hard to get rid of because it stays in the body dormant, like in the nasal cavity or rectum.
    Sue

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Staten Island New York
    Posts
    298
    abhbarry
    A week after surgery my incision was leaking big time, soaking wet. The doctorís assistant said it was normal. I went in to the office anyway for them to check it and they tested the fluid leaking out and found out it was the MRSA staph. I was given meds and the leaking finally stopped and incision healed but they never did a blood test to make sure it was gone. About 3 Ĺ - 4 months later I developed very very bad pains in my side and in my legs and the doctor said he didnít understand what was wrong. So he it did a blood test and they found out I had an infection and after a very pain test of sticking a needle into my spine to get some fluid from the infection to find out what infection I had they found out it was the MRSA staph again and this time it was all the way down to the bone and implants. I did have any fever but the pain was extremely bad. I know of someone like myself and they went in to fix a screw and when the doctor went in the whole back was infected with staph. My infectious disease doctor said the only way to get rid of this infection was to have the implants removed. For some reason this infection clings to implants.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Fernley, Nevada
    Posts
    352
    Nearly 4 months after my implants my incision opened up (about the size of a dime). Went from the docs office to surgery. After going in 4 times trying to get rid of the MRSA and months of IV antibiotics, my hardware had to be taken out. I never had a fever or pain, just tired and my incision opening up.
    SandyC
    SandyC

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    311
    Does anyone know if you can see an infection on an MRI?
    Was anyone diagnosed with an infection just based on pain symptoms?
    Has anyone had cortisone shots in their upper back and if so, did you get relief?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    Thanks,
    Anya
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

    Previously 55 degree thoracolumbar curve
    Surgery June 5, 2007 - Dr. Clifford Tribus, University of Wisconsin Hospital
    19 degrees post-op!

    http://abhbarry.blogspot.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    131
    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine View Post
    Hi Sue...

    While some people end up having to have their implants removed, the majority actually are fine after just 1 or 2 clean outs.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Be very careful with the infection problem. Two years ago I had MRSA staph infection . They tried to clean me out 3 times and I had daily IV's threw a pic line for 13 months. It just would not go away. With the last option of removing my hardware. They felt that the MRSA was hiding out in the screws or hardware and couldn't be killed. I allowed them to take everything out to stop the infection. It worked, however I am in more trouble now than ever before. Two weeks after removal my spine broke again. I had had the hardware in for almost 3 years and there were areas that still had not fused that didn't show up in the scans. This past October They replaced most of the hardware and fixed the problem. (We thought) Christmas day My spine broke again. This time just below the new hardware. Now I am set for surgery the 18th of this month to have the rods extended all the way down again. Now another problem has cropped up. Somehow the infection attached itself to my large intestine and it perforated. Now I have a colostomy with a bag on my side. The good news is it can be reversed but not until my back has been taken care of and is completely healed. This is just my story but I would only hope you have all the tests and scans and advice you can possibly get.
    Good luck and you will be in my prayers each day.
    Jess
    March 23, 2006 Anterior/posterior Ileum-T2
    15 1/2 Hours
    Dr. Tom Lowe R.I.P.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    360
    Quote Originally Posted by abhbarry View Post
    Does anyone know if you can see an infection on an MRI?
    Was anyone diagnosed with an infection just based on pain symptoms?
    Has anyone had cortisone shots in their upper back and if so, did you get relief?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    Thanks,
    Anya
    Hi Anya,

    Infections can be seen on an MRI, but it can be difficult because the image is usually distorted from the metal. My surgeon was concerned about an infection when I was in the hospital so I had one done. It showed lots of fluid and swelling but no infection.

    I did have a cortisone shot for pain, but I think I mentioned that in your other thread.

    Shell
    Chemist, 30

    1998- 18 degrees
    2003- 33 degrees
    2005- 37 degrees
    2006- 44 degrees
    May 2007- 47 degrees
    December 2007 - 50 degrees X-ray

    Surgery May 27, 2008
    Fused T1 to L2
    Curve corrected to 15 degrees X-ray

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    131
    Just for fun here is a picture of what I am dealing with.
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e2...Cimg1453-1.jpg
    March 23, 2006 Anterior/posterior Ileum-T2
    15 1/2 Hours
    Dr. Tom Lowe R.I.P.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    near Philadelphia
    Posts
    1,260
    Hi Jess, good to see you again. I'm sorry you are still dealing with problems....you are one tough cookie to go through all this. I really hope you get it all sorted out soon.
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

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