Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Hardware Removal

sjwssjw Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Chronic Pain
I had spinal fusion surgery when I was 11 (about 7 years ago)to correct a scoliosis with thoracic curvature of 85 degrees and lumbar curvature of approx. 87 degrees. I never had pain before the surgery and was completely oblivious to anything being wrong until my doctor stumbled upon it in a sports physical.
I'm from a small town in Michigan so finding a competent doctor for such a severe case was tough. And the surgeon I had was pretty good i suppose. He got my curvature down to 20-30 degrees postop. I had posterior spinal fusion from T2 to L4 with instrumentation.
But everything since then has been downhill. I've been having chronic pain in my lower pack and right shoulder ever since. My orthopedic surgeon left a wire from the hardware sticking into my shoulder muscle which explains the shoulder pain. And I have a degenerative disc at L5 which "explains" the low back pain.
And no one was willing to fix anything and I went around for years on narcotics and trying pain clinics, chiropractors, etc.
About two years ago, an open sore opened on my incision site around the L4-5 level. I went to various doctors and they had no idea what was wrong. They removed it superficially. and it reopened within a few months. A second sore opened right below it as well.
I moved to Chicago for school in October of 2009. My RHs told me to try the UChicago hospital and see if they had any ideas. And I was immediately admitted because they found MRSA on the wound culture they performed. But after blood tests, they decided that it was probably superficial and released me.
My pain has been increasing, especially with these open sores that continually bled/drained pus. I started experiencing nerve pain in my right leg. And severe stabbing pain in my hips and low back. So I decided to go to Rush Medical in downtown Chicago rather than UChicago hospital because the doctors there had no idea what was going on and refused to treat me since I did not have the surgery done there.
The doctors at Rush saw the sores on my incision and diagnosed me with a deep tissue chronic infection due to instrumentation infection. The open sores are "sinus tracts" and represent a deeper infection. He was extremely confounded that no other doctor had diagnosed this and said that if it had been caught earlier it would have been much easier to deal with.

Now, the surrounding tissue is infected and possibly my bone. And the MRSA on the superficial wound is most likely representative of the bacteria inside. My doctor says that I have to have my hardware removed and an intensive antibiotic treatment for months.

I was wondering if anyone else has been in this situation/heard of it?
I was also hoping to hear from people that have had their hardware removed and how it helped with chronic pain?


  • Welcome to SH. Sinus tract infections are so difficult to treat and yes require a long course of antibiotic treatment. I have heard of some here getting relief of their pain from hardware removal, but have only heard of those with one level. I wish you the best and hope that your recovery goes smoothly.

  • I worked with someone who had this happen. Hers was caught earlier though. She developed a red bump over the incision site and went back to surgeon who had put in the harrington rod years earlier. She had the surgery to remove the hardware a few days later and was on IV antibiotics for a couple of months. She appears to have done well and there has been no increase in curvature without the hardware.
  • That sounds awful.. I had the hardware removed and it was great for about a year. Then arthritis started setting in and it is just hideous, sorry to say. Not everybody gets that tho, I am much older than you. My body began rejecting the metal, the docs said so it had to come out, but I am not so sure it wasn't more than that because I was on a lot of antibiotics afterward too. Good luck too you. The good thing is, in my case the removal surgery was out patient and not too bad, the recovery wasn't too bad either.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    And welcome to the forums. I had a 3 level fusion. And I had a lot of pain after 1 year. I had a friend who also had a painful 3 level fusion. He told me his surgeon said likely his body didn't Like the hardware and was rejecting it. He had it taken out and told me his pain level dropped dramatically. So I did the same. But it didn't make a difference. I had had another disc go out. Maybe you might want to get a mri and see if an adjacent disc went bad.
    Good luck, Jim :?
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • maggiemae--Yes, I also had a red bump form on the incision site about 2 years ago, then it opened up into a full open sore that is about the size of a nickel/quarter. I went back to my surgeon and various other doctors and no one diagnosed it. About 3 months ago I had another sore open a few centimeters below the other one. I'm just glad it finally got diagnosed and they're going to do something about it. However, it does make you question doctors a bit.

    j.howie--I can't get MRIs because of the amount of hardware I have (it just distorts the whole image). But I know that I had a spondylisthesis a few years back, so they think that something may have happened with that and that is what is causing the pain.
  • Wow that is alot to go thru especially at such a young age...my thoughts and well wishes go out to you..I have a 3 level fusion..12 years ago..and had the hardware remove 2-3 years post op as it bothered me when i moved. I felt so much better having it out but of course you are a whole different story with so much going on.. You need to find a great doctor that will heal you!..I sure hope you do..

  • I'm sorry to hear you have this infection and no one found it earlier. Are you on IV antibiotics? I hope you heal completely and have success from your hardware removal. Keep us posted. Prayer for you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.