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Hardware block for removal of Hardware?

AnonymousUserAnonymousUser Posts: 51,513
edited 06/11/2012 - 1:25 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello, I am 29 years old and had spinal fusion L4-S1 nine months ago due to DDD and Spondelo. I am currently living in Ecuador and having more pain than before the surgery. My Doctors here and in the states say that the fusion was a success and all my MRIs and X-rays look fine. They have come to the conclusion that my hardware might be causing the problems. They suggested a hardware block where they inject an anesthetic around the hardware and if there is significant pain relief than the hardware is the problem and needs to be removed. Has anyone had this procedure and what is the success of hardware removal. Does it feel different? Will I get more flexibility even though the bones are still fused? I feel pain above my fusion when I bend over, will this go away after the hardware removal?



  • I am not sure about this but as I am about to have the same surgery on Friday and am about your age I would like to know as well. Thanks for the question!!!

    One Love,

  • I asked two different docs(both are interventional anesthesia guys who have done epidurals and selective nerve root blocks on me) that practice in two different states. They both believe that hardware blocks really don't tell you anything. The numbing medicine is just injected(like for an epidural or selective nerve root block) but nothing keeps it directly on the hardware. So, if you get pain relief, how do you know hte lidocaine relieved pain from the hardware? If you don't get pain relief, is it because the medicine didn't stay by the hardware or because the hardware isn't the problem?

    If you are fused, then docs say that your hardware doesn't serve any purpose and can be removed if it could be causing you pain. If it takes a hardware block to convince the doc or your insurance company, then so be it, it's just an injection in your back.

    I had one side of my hardware removed from a two level lumbar fusion(couldn't have both becuz I'm not fused more than 1 year later.) After that surgery, I was back to work in 3 weeks(light duty part time.) I felt really bad for the first week then much better(as compared to really bad for 3 weeks after fusion surgery.) My hardware needs to come out becuz it is too big, causes lots of pain in my butt especially when sitting. The screws have punched through the opposite side of my vertebrae.

    The doc picked that side first becuz my leg pain was worse on that side too(BMP caused bone to grow on nerve roots and caused return of leg pain after surgery.) So, I still have one side of hardware in plus the cages. Find out soon what all we're doing next. Can't answer about more flexibility cuz I'm still half titanium!
  • ER Nurse, did your surgeon say it is a problem for the screw to be punched through the other side of the vertebrae? I have one screw all the way through, just the tip sticks out. My NS says this is fine. I have read the screws are only suppose to go 80% of the way through the vertebrae. It is kinda concerning to me. I am not having problems with my hardware, other than a mostly constant tight feeling in my low-back, that doesn't go away with muscle relaxants or pain meds.

    Dan, sorry to hijack your thread. I know there are members with hardware removal. Look for Bruce the moderator and L-Dogg, they have both had it out. Not sure if they did the injections or not first. Good-luck

    >:D< Cali-Sue

  • Hi Dan,
    I had my fusion hardware removed 4 weeks ago at L4-L5, after testing "glaringly positive" to 2 blind Hardware Block tests. The day following those tests was wonderful --I felt like a regular person! I would be more than happy to answer any questions anyone has regarding this surgery. I'm still post-surgical and swollen, so I don't know yet how successful the surgery was, but I'm healing really well. My biggest piece of advice: Make sure you have a great surgeon! This is not a very common surgery, and the results can vary wildly. Best case scenario, Dan, the surgery will eliminate or greatly reduce your pain. I desperately want off the pain meds and want and need to resume some semblance of a normal life (including working full time), so, even though I was scared and nervous, I felt that I had to take the chance.

    Anyone have any questions? Fire away!

  • Hi Ladybirddeb- curious how you're doing 4 years later- my son has had 2 surgeries (2nd was a revision because the fusion did not take and the screws were loose first time around) L4-S1 He's been miserable and wishes he never did the first surgery. We recently saw a new Orthopedic surgeon who saw something with the screws but did not feel that was what was causing him so much discomfort, but did suggest that a hardware block be tried to determine if the hardware is what is giving him the problem. we are seeing someone today, but I'm just curious to find out if the removal of the hardware has made a difference now that you're 4 years post hardware removal. Thank you.
  • Cole3030Cole3030 Posts: 1
    edited 09/16/2015 - 9:41 AM
    Dan, I could have written this post myself. I am having the EXACT same problem! I had L4-5 fusion in October 2014. Fusion was successful. Had return of SI pain about six months later, so I had an epidural steroid injection (worst pain of my life, but it worked), then a rhizotomy for more permanent pain relief (which did NOT work). Fast forward to beginning of August -- started having this pain in my back, in the middle by my scar, and it shoots down my butt and into the back of my legs. Really BAD pain, like nerve pain. Went to see my surgeon on Monday and he thinks it's the muscle rubbing over the hardware. This doesn't feel muscular to me. He wants me to have a hardware block to see if it's that, then they can remove the hardware if I have pain relief. But like ER Nurse said, how do I know it's relieving the pain from the hardware??

    I'm at a loss and very frustrated, as I initially felt really good after surgery, but am now having new and different pain, worse than before. Having trouble walking and sitting (I'm a secretary, so both of those things don't bode well for me in my job).

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