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Vertebra Fracture in Surgery

Kris-NYKKris-NY Posts: 2,207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I was wondering if anyone has had this happen. I found out this week that I have a fractured pedicle on my T2 vertebra. The neurologist says it probably happened during surgery when they had to open up that area to work.

Has anyone had this happen? I can't find anything like this. Trying to figure out what happens now.



  • Wow, I am so sorry to hear this news.

    Was your surgeon just matter-of-fact when he told you this? I don't know how often this happens during surgery, but I wouldn't think it would be too often? (I am just taking a guess, of course).

    How was this discovered? Have you been having any unsual pains?

    From your post, it sounds like nothing was mentioned about this... immediately following your surgery? From what I recall, you were having work done in the T2 area. How in the world could this have been missed, prior to sewing you back up?

    Maybe I'm missing something... did you fall or have something hit you in this area, after surgery?

    I don't mean to sound negative towards your surgeon, but if this happened during surgery and you weren't informed immediately... that's just not right, Kris.

    As far as what happens now... I'd be having a hard time keeping my knee still when seeing your surgeon. Particularly, if you are having pain from this fracture. In all honesty, if you are having pain from the fracture... you might ask about a brace? My surgeon braced me for several months, due to the 7 compression fractures in my T-spine. The brace helps to keep the spine aligned and helps the fractures to heal. Keep in mind, thoracic fractures can take a long time to heal. My T6,T7,T8 fractures are still healing and could take until the end of the year to heal.

    When do you see your surgeon next?

    This is really unfortunate, if the fracture was caused by surgery and you weren't informed right away.

    Please let us know how everything transpires.

    You're in my thoughts and prayers, Kris...

  • Hi Tammy

    This was discovered when my neurologist sent me for an MRI because of the problems I am having with my eye post-op. He wanted to make sure there were no blood clots or debris around the nerves that might be causing the Horners syndrome.

    Good news is they don't see anything. Bad news is that they found this. Today I spoke with him again and I have two fractures. The left side of T1 and the right side of T2.

    I go for the CT scan early tomorrow morning. I am hoping to catch the radiologist when I am there. Apparently he was very upset when he found this because he called the neurologist personally the day after my MRI.

    The surgeon doesn't even know about this yet. I had them send a copy of the report to him but when I spoke to his PA on Friday she said they had nothing. I said I wanted to speak with him and see him and she put me off until next week. I told the neurologist this and he said he would contact the surgeon personally when he got the CT results.

    I feel alittle better that the neurologist is taking this seriously. I am alittle worried about needing a brace or even worse needing a fusion now.
    My upper back is sore and my throat feels swollen and sore. Kinda like I have strep.

    I know it's early to worry about this but were you able to function with your brace? I'm worried about being able to work and drive. If I'm adding right you are saying that it could take 2 years for this to heal? I'm frustrated that I can't find anything online about this.


  • Hi Kris,

    So now it looks like 2 fractures? I can't believe this wasn't noticed during surgery.

    Please let us know how the CT scan goes and if you get a chance to speak with the radiologist.

    I'm sure you'll hear back right away from the neurologist, as he seems to be following up closely. I'm not sure what to think of your surgeon right now... yikes.

    I don't know if you are a candidate for bracing, but if you are... yes, you can function with the brace. It actually became like a security blanket for me and I didn't want to wean myself. It felt like armor on my front and back, so if I fell... I was protected. My fractures were all compression fractures which take a long time to heal. As far as pedicle fractures, I'm not sure what the healing time would be. I don't think they would be as long as these deep T6,T7,T8 ones. My other fractures pretty much healed around the 4 to 6 month time-frame.

    I am sorry to hear of all that is happening with you. It will be resolved, one way or another.

    Please let us know how everything goes tomorrow. Is your pain being adequately controlled? Are you on any restrictions, as far as the BLT and no reaching?

    Best wishes to you... hang in there!


  • He didn't have any restrictions for me. I've been back to work for two weeks now and I started PT the week before that. Now the PT won't touch me without detailed instructions from the surgeon. I've been off of all my meds for about two weeks now. Advil doesnt help but I don't want to take anything else yet. I have some percocet left from surgery but it gives me headaches.

    I am wondering if this happened during surgery or after. I know there were some problems during the surgery with the IV and I also had some bleeding in my scalp from the clamp.

    The only thing I can find about vertebra fractures says they are either from osteoporosis or severe trama. I'm only 44 and don't have a family history of weak bones so I am guessing it had to be from the accident or from surgery. Luckily I have the same MRI and CT scan from a month before surgery so they should be able to compare. I wonder if they put stress on the two vertebra during surgery but it didn't snap until later. I would be very upset if they knew about this during the surgery and no one said anything.

    Part of me wants to run to a lawyer right away but another part of me says I knew there could be complications from surgery. I just don't know if this is a legitimate complication or was this a mistake? I also don't know what the longterm pain and future issues are for something like this. My no-fault from the accident will be used up soon. If I am looking at more time out of work or another surgery I may not have a choice.

    I am hoping the radiologist will be there in the morning and look at the results right away. My neurologist is very good about taking calls so we might be able to get him too.

    Stay tuned ..... oh did I mention that we are getting more snow tonight?? lol
  • I've been thinking about you today.

    How did the CT scan go?

    Were you able to speak with the radiologist?

  • I went for the CT scan this morning. Never heard from the neurologist - I think he is off on Tuesdays. He will probably call me early tomorrow.

    I'm very nervous about what he will say. I so do not want another surgery. And the idea of a brace isn't great either. I don't even know if they can do a brace since it is between the neck and the back. It would be huge.

    I'll post as soon as I hear. THanks for asking.
  • Thanks for the update.

    I'll be anxious to hear what the CT scan revealed.

    I completely understand not wanting to have another surgery and I hope you won't need one.

    I'll be checking in to see if you hear anything.

    Deep breaths... take deep breaths. It's all going to be okay.


  • I had endplate fractures of t3,4,5 and a piece broke off of C7. I crashed a mountainbike and tried to kiss me own A** goodbye backwards....Anyway, I wore a Medusa brace, went from sternum to the top of the back of my head, chin braced too. It kind of sucked, Well, actually it sucked a LOT. I was supposed to be in it for 12 weeks, ended up being 15 weeks because my neurologist went on vacation! My wife insisted I keep it own till he released me, so I did. I hope you don't need the brace. I'm not sure, I'm not a doctor.

    You can request your chart and films for the surgery. It will all be in there, they typically will also do some films while you were out. No one in the OR covers others mistakes anymore as it places them in liability to. The fractures could have happened from stress during surgery or after. Try not to blame anyone till you figure out what happened. It could be almost anything. Contacting an attorney will just complicate matters until you figure out what happened.

    I hope you get it all sorted out and it heals up.
  • After a frustrated morning of calls to the doctor and the radiologist I finally got a call from the neurologist. The verbal report for the CT says it is only the T2 that is fractured at the base of the right pedicle. The neurologist said again that this probably happened in surgery when they were getting into the area.

    So after all this he tells me to call the surgeon!! Of course the surgeon is on vacation. I asked the scheduler what I should do - she is going to leave a message for his partner who is in tomorrow but might check his messages today. Go figure.

    I am getting so stressed about this. My whole upper back feels sore. My neck hurts and I can't bend it as much as I could. I think I'm also alittle afraid to now.

    Today is just not a good day for me dealing with the medical field. To top it off my husband seems to have forgotten all about my problems. Not that I am surprised but on top of everything else I am really pissed at him right now.

    Anyone want to place bets on how long before the surgeons office gets back to me?
  • Kris,

    Again, so sorry to see this is happening to you! Pissed, heh, I don't think that word is really covering it for you, is it? I can't obviously give direct support, but I am giving you gentle cyber HUGZZZZZ! I hope the surgeon gets with you soon!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Well, there is some good news with your report... you don't have two or three other fractures. One is enough, as I know you feel the pain from that fracture.

    As difficult as this will be, try your best not to stress. Think of it this way... you have already talked with your doctor about the fracture (when he told you this could have happened during surgery). He didn't take any immediate actions at that time, so there might not be anything he can do... other than provide you with adequate pain control. When you hear back from the on-call doctor, have your list of questions handy and do ask his opinion on bracing. I don't know what kind of brace he would suggest or again, if you're a candidate for one. Do you have a thoracic support pillow? I use one when we go out to dinner or sometimes when I sit in one of our recliners. I'm wondering if that would help you at work.

    You need to tell your hubby how you are feeling. Spill it all to him, so he can give you additional support right now. This is a stressful time for you and he really needs to be aware of it. Sometimes our significant others don't see the pain and anguish we are struggling with. I know I've been guilty of not expressing myself and then I get mad because my family doesn't understand. When I talk to my counselor, she will always ask me..."Well have you told this to your mother?" etc, etc. I'll sit there and feel so dumb, because I have no problem expressing myself to my counselor... but find it difficult with my mom and wind up getting mad at her for something she has no clue about!

    Hang in there, Kris. I hope you hear from the other doctor real soon. Try your best not to stress as this will cause you additional pain in your upper back and neck area. Have you tried sitting in a hot tub or whirlpool? I don't know if this would feel good or not, right now. Any kind of gentle massage your hubby could do where you feel some knots? Just having one of my knots worked on feels really good. Oh! Do you have a platinum infrared heating pad? OMG... it is the best for the deep muscle pains. It radiates heat 2 1/2 inches into the muscles and it's better than a Flexeril at times. The ThermaCare heat wraps are also good to wear. They will give me 8 hours of direct heat and they come in different sizes.

    I'll be thinking of you and vent away, whenever you need to!



  • My surgeons partner called me this afternoon. I'm not sure what they told him when they gave him my message but he seemed annoyed.

    He did say that if I can get the test results he will see me tomorrow. I wasn't sure if I wanted to see him but it would probably be good to get his opinion. It would also give me some relief before the weekend. Currently I'm not taking anything for pain. I guess he can also tell me what I should be taking.

    Spoke to the hubby a little while ago. He still hasn't asked about the test results. Funny part is that if I complain to him about him not caring he will blame it on me for "keeping it a secret". Just for a day I'd love to have someone take care of me and not the other way around.
  • Just saw my surgeons partner. After spending the morning trying to get the test results together I got to his office and waited about 1 1/2 hours.

    At first he tried to say that tests this soon after surgery are not reliable since there is still so much swelling. He was kind of surprised and admitted that there is a fracture of the T2. The report also talks about rib displacement but he ignored that.

    He suggested that I take it easy for now and see what happens. The brace I would need would be both thoracic and cervical and extremely uncomfortable. I go back next Wed to see the doc who did the surgery to see what he thinks.

    I asked about the upper back pain that I have. He explained it this way. After surgery they pump you up with pain meds and steroids internally. THen you take more for a few days after surgery. When you stop the oral meds the internal stuff is still working. THen after another week or so that wears off and you feel worse. So he says I am in that stage now and the pain I feel is normal post-op and not from the fracture.
  • Kris, I am so sorry to hear about this fracture, like someone else said I am glad you don't have more then 1 fracture, but 1 is more then enough. I am glad you saw your surgeons partner, and that you are seeing your surgeon next week.

    I know I get annoyed with my husband over certain things. But if you don't tell your husband what is happening, there is no way he can be an emotional support for you. Tell him about the CT scan, and that your surgeons partner told you to take it easy and rest this weekend, tell him you need to be pampered, and hopefully he will give you some of the TLC we all need at times.

    Be well my friend, and take care!!

  • lol that just doesnt exist here. Actually my husband is away til Monday probably. He's been working on the rental house we bought last year. Found out yesterday that his 6 week furlough from work is now a permanent layoff. The wait for work is 40 weeks but they should take his last time off into account. Hopefully he will be back to work by summer.

    The fracture is annoying. I think there really are two. I feel sharp pains on the right and also on the left which is what the MRI showed. I'm really tired of the doctor visits but I was also very afraid that the fractures were unstable. The pain when laying down was awful.

    I know how you feel about your chest pains. How do we know what is existing pains and what might be something new and serious. I know I was freaking out last week when I was waiting for the CT scan. I imagined moving the wrong way and being instantly paralyzed.

    Have you looked up signs of heart attack? I think they say the biggest sign is arm numbness not chest pain. Having more info might help put you at ease. The anxiety you have is only going to make you feel worse.
  • Although I know you are tired of all the doctor's visits, it will be good to speak with your surgeon next week. It will put your mind more at ease, if he can give you an explanation of how long this fracture will take to heal. I have noticed that the fracture pains always feel the worst, when laying down. Please ask him about the possible displaced rib that was mentioned. It is part of his job right now, to put your mind at ease and be straight-foward about the healing times for what you are experiencing. You deserve answers to your questions and not to have everything shoved under a rug.

    I wasn't aware of the situation with your hubby being gone and working on your rental house. But, it's good to hear he is going to be home soon to HELP YOU. If the rental house repairs are ending soon, his focus will now be on taking care of you and managing the kids. When you come home from work, you need to get into your comfy clothes and RELAX. He needs to take over daddy duty and dote on you, as you need additional time to heal. You've been holding the fort down with what little energy you have left at the end of the day and now it is his turn.

    I will be so anxious to hear what your doctor says on Wednesday. And Kris, if your pain is not being kept at a tolerable level... please ask for additional relief. If you could relax the muscles at night while you sleep and take a good pain reliever for your back... you would feel a little better each day. Holding down a full-time job and taking care of your kids while you're in pain, is going to take a toll on you.

    I'll be thinking about you, as always.

    Take care of yourself this weekend... relax and get a lot of rest.


    P.S. Will your hubby be able to go with you to your appointment?
  • He is coming back tomorrow so he can "sign the book" for work at the union. I think I will ask him to go with me to the doctor on Wednesday. Then he can see that this is real.

    I've thought I was happy that he was away during this recovery because it meant not making dinner or worrying about how the house looked. He's not the type to happily take on these things. Last week we had a meeting here for a club he belongs to. He didn't do a damn thing to clean up or get ready and then yelled at me because the bathroom hadn't been cleaned yet. I asked him when was the last time he cleaned it.....

    We don't have the healthiest of relationships which is both our faults. Not much I can do at this point to change that. He's very hard working but not a nuturer.

    I did find some relief at night. Two tylenol PM let me sleep 6 hours. I feel so much better in the morning because I'm not tossing and turning in pain. I do feel the worst when I lay down.

    Thank you for your kind words. I will let you know what the surgeon has to say.
  • Kris alot of men aren't nurturing. I am glad he is going to go with you to the doctors on Wed, it will be good for him to hear first hand what the doctor has to say. Be sure to ask questions even if you know the answers, so that your husband can hear what the doctor has to say, it will mean more to him hearing it from the doctor then from you...I know that isn't right, but that is how many men are.

    As for the signs of a heart attack, I know what they are, I have worked in cardiology most of my adult life, and am an echo technologist (echocardiograms). The problems is that even severe jaw pain can by a sign of a heart attack, my arms hurt most of the time, pain going down them is normal for me, and the chest like pain and the feeling of my breath being taken away is so similar to what I have told so many over the years not to ignore, go right to the ER, and let them tell you it isn't your heart. I have seen patients who have had normal stress thaliums have a heart attack within weeks of seeing nothing wrong, but still I know me,and now I will be one of the people that ignore the pains, and hope that it is my spine and not my heart each time.

    make sure you let us know what the doctor says on Wed, and please realize that even though you are runing to so many doctors right now as you heal it will get less and less frequent that you have to see them. I am so glad you are getting the rest you need, tyleol PM is great!
  • sorry i haven't been on in quite some time now.Just haven't been at the computer much.It takes too much time to read all the posts and by the time i'm done reading my back is hurting and i have to get up and move around.I just get annoyed and stopped coming on. I hope that your apt. with your surgeon turns out fine for you. You've been through enough. Please make sure to post back and let us know what he has to say for himself. I'm hoping your surgeon takes this seriously and doesn't try and pass it off as just something that happens in surgery. Good luck!!
  • lol j/k

    The doctor didn't have much to say. I think he is afraid of a lawsuit. He admitted that the vertebra is fractured but said he has never seen that happen. I go back in 3 weeks and then he will order another CT for a month or so after that to see how it is healing. Nothing much to do for it.

    My next step is to find out what the Horners syndrom will mean for me in the future. Every one including the surgeon is being real quiet about that one. One lawyer told me that was the better mal-practice suit because it could be with me the rest of my life.

    Guess that will be a new round of doctors. Some day I hope to have a whole month without seeing a doctor.
  • Sorry that you are going thru all of this. I am sure your surgeon is scared of a mal practice and is afraid to say anything. I didn't realize you were diagnosed with Horners Synrome, I do remember you were having trouble with an eye after surgery, but can't believe it turned into this, my thoughts are with you.

    As far as seeing a doctor every month I know it is hard, but also know I have gotten use to it...sorry you have to get use to it too.

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