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Thread: Removal due to degrading HRs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    14

    Removal due to degrading HRs?

    Hello,
    This is my first post, and the first time I have ever explored a scoliosis forum. The stories and info is kinda overwhelming.

    I had my surgery in 1974 at the age of 17 (at HSS, Dr. David Levine). I had a 95 degree curve. Since then I have not paid much attention to my scoliosis. I have been lucky to have little pain and relatively minor limitations. I have a son, work I love, and an active life, including studying karate for years and teaching self-defense.

    Anyway about 6 months ago I noticed a small draining lesion on my mid-lower back, right on the scar line. Long story short, an MRI showed a track leading to the hardware, so now the rods are due to be removed on 2/24 by Dr. Matt Cunningham, (at HSS, colleague of Dr. Boachie).

    I'm still not clear what the track and lesion are or how/why it happened vafter all these years problem-free. Has anyone experienced this? Is the rod degrading? Is it an infection? I am not currently on antibiotics, nor am I ill, no fevers, no pain. It's hard to go under the knife when I don't feel bad at all, knowing I'll wake up in pain and need time to heal...

    I see my surgeon next week for a final consultation and will prepare questions, but wanted to see if anyone here has been through this.
    If so, how was the removal surgery? How long did it take you to get on your feet and back to work? Were you on antibiotics post-surgery? Physical therapy? Pain management? There's no plan to replace the hardware and though my fusion is strong, I worry about the future without rods. They've been a part of me for so long...

    Thanks ahead of time for any responses.
    Brooklyn

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    213
    Hi Brooklyn,

    I've never been through what you're experiencing, but just wanted to say welcome to NSF I hope you find some good info here to help you prepare for surgery.

    I'm certainly no doctor, but my thinking is that if you've not been put on antibiotics & you feel well, you don't currently have an infection. But the worry might be that this drainage point seems to go deep & lead directly to your rods, bone, & spinal cord. And any access point to such deep tissues is a big worry - if any infection did get in (& it can be difficult to keep infection out of a deep wound), it could get into your fused bone & start "eating" into it. This would not only destabilise your fusion, but also give the infection easier access to your spinal cord, where you definitely don't want an infection.

    I can understand not wanting to have such major surgery when you feel well - & by all means, get a second opinion if you don't feel comfy with your surgeon...but having this fixed now could head off some serious, debilitating problems in the future. For sure it's a concern to raise with your surgeon, but I think if your fusion has been solid for so many years, removing the metal is unlikely to compromise its stability. The whole purpose of inserting rods is to provide something of a "trainer" to hold the spine straight while bone fuses around/over it. The bone is much stronger than the metal even!

    Re. pain management - my experiences only go back to about 1990, but I can tell you that the meds have come such a long way. Post-op, if you're in uncontrolled pain, please Tell Your Doctor (or nurse, or anybody & everybody who will listen). Yes, recovery is painful, but there's no reason for your pain to be excruciating. Many people (esp. in America) do have physiotherapy post-op, I think starting at about the 6-8wk mark, to improve muscle strength, balance, etc. - but that's prescribed on an "as needed" basis. Certainly in hospital, you should be seen by a physio to assess/improve your breathing & help you get up & about walking. You should be walking very soon post-op - as in, within the first couple of days! This is painful, but encourages healing massively.

    Recovery time is a very individual thing. Personally, I've found my last fusion (much more extensive surgery than the previous two) to be much easier to recover from - strange but true! Just goes to show you can't predict! I'm sure others will come chip in about their experiences - though I'm not sure how your upcoming surgery compares to a fusion surgery. I guess it's a question best thrown at your surgeon.

    Anyhow, sorry to ramble. Just wanted to say welcome, & best wishes for your surgery.

    Thinking of you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    14
    Thank you for replying discombob. The docs do think I have some infection, although it seems that my immune system is handling it thus far. They will be doing cultures. I expect I may be on up to 8 weeks of antibiotics (thru a PIC line) post surgery - depends upon what/where the infection is.

    Doc promised I will be up and walking the next day - which pleases me! I hope to be back at work in two weeks. We'll see.

    Best,
    Brooklyn

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,978

    Thinking of you!

    Brooklyn-- your surgery is in just three days, and I just wanted to let you know you'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Let us know how it all goes-- and hopefully you'll have a relatively short recovery time. Hugs, Susie
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    14
    Thank you Susie - that's really sweet.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    14

    Update

    The surgery went very well and I am healing rapidly. Home and walking, sitting, moving quite easily. Using only Tylenol for pain. Back to work in 2 weeks.

    The antibiotic IV infusion I am on for the next five weeks is a pain though.

    Of course I have follow-up jitters. Will my fusion and curve hold steady or degenerate over the next year? Will I need to replace the hardware or can I live without it?

    More concerning to me though is the actual staph infection that resulted in this removal. How did I get it 35 years post surgery??? Will the antibiotics knock it out completely?

    I see my doc again next week.

    Brooklyn

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,978
    Wow! That sounds like a fantastic recovery! You are doing soooo well! Let us know what your surgeon says when you go. I'm assuming you'll share those concerns with him when you go. Yes, that is terribly perplexing (and unsettling for lots of us!) how you could get an infection that long after your surgery. Take care-- and please keep us updated. Hugs, Susie
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

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