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Rod Removal After Spinal Fusion Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Scoliosis
My daughter had spinal fusion surgery 2 years ago Nov 2007 she was 12 years old at the time now 14.
Her curve was at 58 degrees. Her titanium rod is about 10 inches long on her lumbar spine. She has been experiencing pain over the last year. Her doctor has told us that rod removal may be an option after further test are ran and she is 100% that the spine is fused. My daughter is extremly upset with the thought of another surgery as am I.

Has anyone had this done? Can you please offer any advice or experience with this pain.




  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi Bernadette,
    I can't speak from experience but I have read here where people have had the rods removed for one reason or another. I would be certain someone with that type of surgery will respond. In the mean time check the archives of this thread, you may find what you are looking for.
  • I cannot speak from experience but I have read that the rod removal surgery is not nearly the huge surgery that the original surgery was. If she is fully fused, there is no need to have the rod there, because her spine will be stronger than the rod.

    Have they been able to tell you why she's getting pain? Did they use BMP in the first surgery? Are they going to run an MRI?

    There are surgeons who specialise in revision surgery, I hope you can find one.
  • During one of my surgery's I had to have about four levels of hardware removed and replaced with new stuff. The part ware they removed the hardware didn't hurt at all. What hurt me is they had to extend it up into my neck and that of course really caused a lot of pain but the area ware it was removed and replaced did not cause any.
  • hi i had a fusion a few years ago l1/l2 and having the rods removed was the best thing i ever did, i was up and about and home in less than 24 hours and I had it done about 8 weeks ago, even the operation pain was not half as bad as the fusion operations I had before. i am still recovering but feel better for having that out of my body stopping my muscles from moving properly.

  • hi, it's good to hear that you feel a lot better after removing all those rods. i am with you. i got a spinal fusion on august 2007 when i was 17 and it was frm L to T (i forgot the number) so basically my whole back. and I don't feel good about myself at all. I feel like a robot. it's so hard to not have the natural body muscle movement on my back. and my upper back hurts a lot. lower back, it's manageable because thats where i had the 50 degree curvature. but i really wish to remove rods on my upper back. so i deserve at least some FREEDOM!

    when they removed ur hardware, did they take out the screws as well? is that mean you have holes on your vertebrae?

    do you feel better after the removal? please respond to me.

    - J
  • Hey just in my experience,had scoliosis and had a spinal fusion done 3 years ago now. Last year i had surgery to remove aa piece of one of my lower rods as it came loose, the operation was fine, i was out in 2 days of hospital,quick recovery!. I have to go for another operation now to get another bit of a rod removed as that came loose now!(so fustrating!).

    I did ask my surgeon about getting it all removed as i didnt want anymore surgery after this one coming up. He said it would be best not to get it entirely removed..the first reason was that my spine might bend or buckle under pressure from removal..even though my spine is fully fused.He told me that since my spine was fully fused, the bone that is fused in my spine is around the rods and that it would be a tricky surgery to remove the rods. Hope that helps a little..ask your daughters surgeon many questions anyway. Hope it all works out.- Heff
  • tableonettableone Posts: 12
    edited 07/26/2014 - 2:15 PM
    Yes it took eight hours to have my metal/hardware removed because the bone had grown over the metal.But, it can totally be done, you just need a surgeon who is willing to do it. Be persistent; it's not the surgeon who has to live with metal in his back, it's you!
  • Long can the rods be in before being removed? Mine have been in for 10 years and I am thinking I would like to have them removed.
  • Welcome to Spine Health.......http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-message-resource

    Having the rods removed is not normally done, unless there is some medical reason for removing them. An allergy to the metal, or a proven pain generator. Why would you want to see about getting them removed?
    You would need to discuss that with a surgeon, and see what he or she recommends based on your reasons for wanting them removed.
  • Babette123BBabette123 Posts: 7
    edited 08/08/2014 - 7:48 PM
    Hi, I'm new here and have been totally miserable with the hardware. It is more than 1 1/2 yrs and it seemed fine at first but now feels like I am carrying so much weight, I feel it moving all around and hate it. I can eel it pinching me, and it feels like it lowered. I was given a fracture on my neck, I believe from the position and weight of it. I am small and no matter what he says, I think it's too much. I can't walk like I used to, not even close and it is so sad to me. I feel I lost a lot of what I loved, exercise and walking. I would love to get the ok and feel confident I would be ok. I was given scoliosis from a doc who cut off too much lamina bone. He was on probation for using drugs! I asked for this surgery and was told I was "normal for my age"!! I worked out or 26 yrs daily and walked miles. I am getting worse not better. I would appreciate any comment. I have been on a few boards and ignored which hurt a person already depressed from chronic pain. Thank you if you read this and thanks for any replies

    Post edited to remove inappropriate comment...Liz spine-health moderator.. Please read the Forum rules
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 08/09/2014 - 4:28 AM
    Why was the hardware placed and at what location in your spine? What was the purpose for the hardware? Fusion or scoliosis? Removing it may be possible, but first, you need to see a surgeon to find out if the hardware is in fact, moving, or loosened and to check on the stability of your spine.
    When was the last time that you went to physical therapy or had any imaging done ?
    As far as depression , yes, it goes hand in hand for many with living with chronic pain, but what are you doing to help yourself deal with and treat it? Are you seeing a counselor or therapist? Taking any medications?
    While living with any chronic condition is difficult and causes us to make changes to our lifestyles, we also have to continue to work at recovering, for months and sometimes years to hold onto as much of our former lives as we can, while making adjustments to how our bodies work now.
    Unless there is some medical reason for you not being able to excercise, there isn't any reason that you can't find a new excercise program that will help you with mobility and increasing your activity levels.
  • I was given scoliosis as I already stated Sandi, in my post. I posted that a doc cut off too much lamina bone and caused my spine to collapse, giving me scoliosis, with hardware from my neck to pelvic region. I had spinal stenosis and not one doctor wanted to touch me. I tried everything from PT to epidurals and was still able to walk and do more but had the nerve pain that goes with the stenosis. After 6 yrs. of no surgery, I awoke to burning pain in both legs that had me screaming. The doc was on probation for using drugs and stealing them, which was also mentioned in my post. I was rushed to the hospital and thinking, finally a laminectomy and said yes. Of course, in retrospect, I wish I knew the outcome. The surgeon who did the reconstruction already is aware of my problem and has seen my reports. I can barely move at this point and have tried other exercises. I worked out for 26 yrs. I am aware there is a problem. Thanks for replying.
  • You didn't have scoliosis prior to your first surgery, but for some reason had a laminectomy and then somehow developed scoliosis as a result of that first surgery? How many levels was the laminectomy done at? Do you have rods and screws the entire length of your spine? What is the current surgeon recommending now?

  • Babette123BBabette123 Posts: 7
    edited 08/11/2014 - 6:22 AM
    Sandi, I am in tremendous pain and have been for some time and now even more so since I walked this week. I will need to get back to you with exact numbers for the laminectomy. The "some reason" for needing a laminectomy, as I said was due to spinal and foraminal stenosis, accompanied with bulging disks, DDD, herniation, but as with all stenosis, when everything is tried and nothing works, I read repeatedly, a laminectomy was the answer. I was told no to my request, yet ater almost 6 yrs. of nerve pain, I was rushed to er after waking up to unbearable, burning pain in both legs and was given a doctor who was on probation. EDITED I don't know. I know my spine was straight until he did a laminectomy that I believe was L4 to L5, but would have to get my medical records to tell you exactly. And after the reconstructive scoliosis surgery, I got a fracture in my neck, requiring even more surgery. I was told it was probably due to gravity and the weight of the hardware. And yes I have 2 titanium rods and screws and it runs from my neck to pelvic area I have spondyly.(sp?) with compression around L4-L5 and am still waiting for my neck to heal after a scraping down from bumps that appeared on my neck after the last neck surgery, which is hurting terribly. The surgeon was told of my discomfort and has given removal or partial removal thought. I worked out previously for over 26 yrs. straight and felt fine after the surgery (walking the entire hospital, and still fine on post op visits. I fell on my knees, not sure if that has anything to do with it, but have gotten worse over time, not better. Not sure why you phrased "some reason having a laminectomy" and "somehow developed scoliosis" when I believe I mentioned it a few times. I have had a terrible time with the treatment or lack of. I am well aware my surgeon would know best and I need to be totally fused, which I am. I was looking to hear from others with removals, since it has been discussed with my doctor, I had a need to vent and compassion. I thank you for trying to help. You stated I somehow had a laminectomy, is not spinal stenosis the reason anyone has one? I am trying to understand what you have not been understanding from all that I said. I had also previous said I had hardware from my neck to pelvic region. Thanks again. Also, if I am having severe trouble after walking and find the hardware feeling like it weighs 50 lbs., is that really a normal feeling when I was up and about in the hospital and felt pretty good and have progressively felt worse with time? I don't expect an answer to that. I am waiting for an appointment with my surgeon.

    You agree not to submit or post material that is harassing, libelous, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene or otherwise objectionable in any manner or nature to forums on Spine-health.com. This includes the bashing and/or name calling of physicians.


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 08/11/2014 - 6:20 AM
    is what levels of your spine were involved? Is the entire spine, all levels fused or it is specific levels in different areas of the spine that are involved? If it is different levels in different areas of the spine, what are those levels? It does make a difference in what surgeons might offer as far as ongoing treatment or interventions go, and whether or not a surgeon might be willing to consider removal of the hardware or not.
    The issues that you state with your previous surgeon are not relevant to the questions you had regarding removing hardware. Doctor bashing is not permitted on Spine Health forums.

    You agree not to submit or post material that is harassing, libelous, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene or otherwise objectionable in any manner or nature to forums on Spine-health.com. This includes the bashing and/or name calling of physicians.


    Your posts are not very clear, and are a bit confusing.
  • The other doctor was spoken of only b/c of questions you asked and it involved him, He caused my spine to collapse and caused the scoliosis. I almost died, b/c it was about to puncture my liver. Your questions made it necessary to bring up this other doctor. His records are on the internet and I will not mention him again. I have no more to say. I have repeated it was my entire spine every time. I will be seeing my doctor.
  • Hi There,

    I m totally new here.. I had a car accident on 25/12/13.. Next morning I had a spinal fusion surgery T10 L2 with 2 rods and 8 screws.. I had 3 bones misplaced at the time accident. After the surgery I have started to recover moderately, but last 1 month I m in so much pain.. I can not wear a bra.. It is so painful and sore.. I feel a heavy back and feel the screw all the time.. Dr advised to take screws off when went to him first time in August,14.. At that time he dis not see the CT scan.. Now last month he saw the CT scan and asked if I want to leave the screws... I got so confused... He told me my spine is fused now if I want I can do it.. I really want to live a normal life.. I have no children yet.. I m 31.. Is hardware removal is a solution to get rid of pain and to get some more movements? Thanks

  • I recently saw a surgeon that suggested..after 25 years of having rods in my back, that my pain would decrease greatly by having them removed. I know no amount of medication or the surgery will take away the pain that i have learned to deal with , but I hope that having them removed will help. I am wondering , thanks to the fears that my family has now put in my head, if I should get a second opinion. My surgery is set for November 11.
    tanya bielak
  • Hi there! I had my rods removed 7 years after my surgery. The doctor told me that my pain was caused because I was thin and active and didn't have enough soft tissue to cushion the hardware from my muscles. After my surgery the doctor commented that I must have been in a lot of pain because he had to remove a lot of scar tissue. If the doctor does a bone scan and determines that the fusion is complete, do not hesitate to take out the hardware if it is causing you pain! I did, and am very glad I did! Please don't wait as long as I did and injure your muscles in the process!! If you have any other specific questions, feel free to private message me! We can all get through this together! All us twisted folk have to stick together!!
  • Hi, I had my rods removed 7 years after my spinal fusion surgery. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made! My muscles and ligaments weren't moving around the hardware properly due to my small frame and active lifestyle (I am a dancer). I only wish I had had them removed sooner because I had developed a lot of scar tissue around the hardware. If your daughter is having trouble with the hardware, and the doctor determines that the spinal fusion is solid, I say go ahead and have them removed. Please don't wait so long that it causes her more pain. I hope this helps! Good luck!
  • I am 45 yrs old and had the Harrington rods put in my back for a 56 degree curve in upper back in 1982. In 2000 I started to get severe pain in back. Surgeon told me that in some cases as long as fusions are strong they take rods out to help pain. When he went in to remove mine he saw that they had broke while inside. Since then I have heard of many people having the same problem that the rods break, especially the older Harrington style, or that they start to shift with age. Women naturally start leaning forward in the upper back and shoulders as they age which also affects the rods. Now my lower back has curved to a 40 degree curve which is messing up the balance of my hips and severe pain in lower back. Does anyone out there have a similar problem with a second curve later in life?
  • I also had the rods and screws removed and it helped a lot! The screw was right between my shoulder blades and would get irritated if I sat in a metal chair or some car seats because it would rub and pinch. My original scoliosis surgery was in 1982 and after three years the doctor said he could make a 3 inch incision to remove the screw if it bothered me. I never did it but move ahead to 2000 I started having severe pain in back. Went to surgeon and he said a lot of people have them removed because of pain, especially the old Harrington rods like I had. In surgery the doctor found that everything had shifted (due to normal aging) and started to come apart. I was up and during normal household choirs 4 or 5 days later. It was nothing like the original surgery at all. Now my lower back has curved severely over the last year or two. Now I don't only have a lovely humpback but uneven hips and rib cage to match, great..... Has anyone else had a second curve occur after scoliosis surgery? To the post with severe pain, I have it too, I know it's hard to get any excerise done without pain but I have found it's worse if I just lay around, ALOT worse. If I can just walk the driveway or do a routine of housework it makes it a bit better. I also lost my husband and daughter within 6 months and depression hit me hard. That also makes the pain worse, like your not depressed enough being in pain, but talk to your Dr. aBout getting you treatment for the depression and it might lessen the pain a bit also. Hope you find comfort:)
  • D SanchezDD Sanchez Posts: 1
    edited 08/13/2015 - 5:35 AM
    I had a spinal fusion December, 2014. It was soon discovered that 2 of the screws on bottom we're not placed properly and we're rubbing against a vein. They had to remove 4 screws and replace them. I changed doctors and went to a dr. That uses the mazor robotics system and less evasive incisions. I was scared to death because my first surgery was very painful. So 7 months after my first surgery, I had the second surgery. This surgery was not half as painful. I was so thankful. I had to stay 1 night in the hospital. I did not require morphine. I did take pain medication for about 1 week, but not as often as on label. You still have to be careful about bending and twisting, but not as much as the first time. If you have to have this done, don't be afraid as I was, it was a breeze compared to the first surgery.

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information! ~spine-health moderator, savage
  • Hi j am looking getting mine redone, I have had it in since 2002, I was 15 at the time. I'm nearly 30 now. And it is so painful in between my shoulder blades. I'm in chronic pain all the time. But was told that it needs replacing every 15 years for successful fusion.
    Emily Betterridge
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