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Hardware removal L4/5

marirlpnmmarirlpn Posts: 1,028
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

Since my fusion of L4/5 two years ago, I have experienced 24/7 pain in the area of my back where my fusion was done. At times, it can be very debilitating. I will be having removal of the hardware soon to see if this relieves this pain. My NS gives pain relief a 50/50 chance.

Those of you who have had hardware removal, please share your experience. Was the recovery difficult and was your pain relieved to any degree?

Thank you,



  • hiya mari
    yep I had mine removed 7mths after I was fused...I got severe pains and my screws had become loose was my docs reason..
    So he went in took everything out and yes the screws we very loose..
    Went home next day.. and took it easy and recovery was not bad at all for me..
    My doc said don't go thinking you can go lifting weights or such take it easy (which he knows is not easy for me) so I did..
    Went back to ording ppl around at my job in about 10 days.. but still stayed on lite duty for month..
    But I was a manager so still I didn't do any heavy lifting..
    I Had very little pain just like aches really..
    I never knew the hardware could come loose Its a rare thing I guess, my doc said you fused good and fast so hardware is not needed...I was so glad to get that foreign stuff outta my body...

    you will be fine
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • Does anyone else have any experience of hardware removal from a L4-5 Fusion. My fusion was 7 years ago and i continue to have pain almost daily. I am hearing that more and more people are having the hardware removed but have not spoken with anyone directly. Please let me know your overall experience before and after fusion and removal!!
    I am 40 and don't want to continue to have this pain for the next 40 years!!
  • I am about to have some hardware "installed". PLIF in September. Do most people have to have this removed? Also will this hardware set off the scanners at the airport?? Sounds silly but my husband and I love Mexico and try to go there often. Thanks Traci
  • Best wishes on your upcoming surgery. Not everyone has their hardware removed. I will be having this done on 8/16. And, no, it doesn't set off the airport scanner, but I would think with the new body scanners they would see it. Maybe someone here has the answer to that question.

    TC, Marianne

  • the expectation is that the hardware will remain in your body. Once you are fused, it isn't needed any more, but it is generally left there and the bone will probably grow around it.

    Sometimes, it can cause problems. It has been know to cause allergies, move, loosen or break (rarely), and if it is causing pain, it can be removed once the spine has fused.

    Most hardware these days is made of titanium and I am told by my surgeon that it is MRI friendly and won't set off airport scanners.

  • out of 11,000 members I know of only 3 who have had their hardware removed. Anyone else out there who has had this done, please share....

  • I had my hardware removed two years ago. What would you like to know?

  • I have also had my hardware removed. It was not loose or broken, but I had almost constant pain and spasms on the right side only. Go figure. It was removed in Jan 10 and the difference was night and day. The PLIF at L5-S1 was done in Sept 08.

    God Bless,
  • I had my L5-S1 hardware removed because the original surgeon placed a screw improperly and it was on my nerve. The new surgeon removed the hardware and added bmp to the fused area because he said it was not good enough. I had a dural tear when the screw was removed from the nerve and had to be flat on my back for a couple of days.

  • Do they put you all the way to sleep when they remove the hardware? How about if they remove the bone stimulator they implanted?
  • for the responses. I feel more encouraged.

    Dave, I wanted to know your experience with having it removed. Why was it done and did you have some pain relief afterwards?

    Best to all,

  • My hardware was removed because it was catching on my muscles when I moved. We were also hoping that it was contributing to the pain in my legs and the drop foot I had in my right foot. The surgery got rid of the pain in the back and the drop foot but did nothing for the pain in my legs. My original fusion surgery wasn't 100% successful, so during the hardware removal, I had a revision at 1 level and a Facetectomy at both fused levels. I still have issues, but the hardware removal was successful. The h/w removal surgery was real easy to recover from. I went back to work two weeks after my surgery.

  • Hardware removal is done under general anesthesia.

  • I had my hardware removed on 8/16. I noticed an immediate improvement in my right butt, hip and leg pain. I was able to walk the hospital hallway without my cane and without pain. I am again using my cane due to incisional back pain. I'm thinking that the anesthesia allowed me to walk so well afterwards and as would be expected, has now worn off.

    I was a little disappointed yesterday when I had much difficulty walking to my mailbox, but I'm early in recovery from this. My NS told me to give it a good 2 to 4 weeks to heal.

  • Did any of you have a "hardware block" test done before having hardware removed?

    It's my understanding there is a test. Sounds like getting an ESI or similar around the hardware where it causes pain. If the pain goes it's the hardware, if not pain generator is elsewhere. Saves pulling hardware with no proof it is the problem.

    I say this as I can feel some muscle twinges due to hardware and some pain in my leg. It "feels like" one of the screws is tugging on a muscle. Also when I lay on my back on a hard surface. Say an exercise mat on the floor. I can feel those things dig into my smaller muscles closer to the surface. It is annoying at best.

  • Me, me me.

    I had my hardware removed 18 months after my surgery to put it in.

    I was showing good fusion at 12-14 months but the NS wanted to really make sure I was fused. Apparently there is a 'grey' area where a fusion can look fused on the films, but not really be solid. It occurs at about 14-16 months out he said.

    My NS told me that he sees a need for the removal in roughly 10% of the cases and mostly it's in young thin women. (I guess we swing our hips and have no fat to cushion the muscles?? - that is TOTAL guessing on my part).

    I lost a lot of weight post-op. I am not young and I still don't consider myself thin. But that's what he said.

    I had several symptoms that made them think I needed it out:

    1- I could push on a screw head and my leg on that side would buckle under me.
    2- I had a burning pain in my back muscles that originated over the screws.
    3- Topical inflammation reducers worked,if only temporarily (I used Voltaren).

    After my removal, it took a few months, but there is a big difference.

    I can actually go a few days without a back ache. I do have pressure in my lower back, I think that is the fusion I feel - hardware removal will not get rid of that!

    I do still get backaches and I'm still popping Tylenol at least every few days. I just don't have the 'screw heads are making hamburger of my muscles' feeling anymore- yeah!

    I did have complications in the removal, nothing horrible, just drug allergies that kept me hospitalized for (oh gosh, I'm drawing a blank) was it 4 days??

    Anyway, would I have the removal done again - YES. Would I be scared about having the surgery again - YES. There is always a risk.

    When I have to have the next level done I don't know that I'll get the hardware removed, certainly not if I'm doing okay with it in.


    I forgot - I bled a LOT after the removal (general anesthesia, it took several hours of surgery). Apparently scar tissue presents problems, they bleed and they don't heal as well.

    Also, it seemed to hurt a lot more this time - probably because you don't get medicated as well for a removal.
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