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Some Questions On Getting Hardware Removed?

Mindymork62MMindymork62 Posts: 207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,
Does any one know how the doctor decides when it's safe to remove your hardware, and how can they "really" know if it's your hardware and not something else causing the pain?
I had a L 3/4 & L 4/5 fusion with a cage and screws on July 1st of 2010. For several months I have had severe pain in my lower back on the right side. Some days the whole lower back hurts, but mostly the right side. My doctor had said he wanted to wait a full year to be sure I was fused before he took anything out, but the pain has been really bad lately, plus I just had a neck fusion on March 30th. I've been told by my surgeon and the Ortho. that I have thin bones. Probably because I have Osteoporosis & Osteoarthritis. What's the worse that can happen if they take it out, and would they leave the cage in? I don't go back to my surgeon until the 25th of this month. Thanks for any help you can give. :)


  • Hi Mindy,

    AS far as telling if the hardware is causing the issue, they can do what is called a hardware block and see if you get pain relief from the injections. Ask your surgeon the same questions you asked here, and that more than likely will be what they offer. Sometimes just by the imaging they can get a idea of what is going on, with the hardware. Also if you worried about them removing due to the soft bone issue they can fill with a bone cement. The one thing I can say is posture, be sure you are working with it, as sometimes it can through your whole body out of alignment. Of course removing it also depends on wether you are fused or not. Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do.
  • I also had a 2 level fusion (one level below you) on 14 July last year, so we're pretty much in the same boat.

    In the UK, as far as I'm aware, our hardware is NEVER removed.

    I too have been having pain issues on the right side. Mind you, my back pain has always been more troublesome on the right, what with sciatica etc. On 26 May I had two injections, one on the lower left screw head and one on the sacroiliac joint on the right side. If the pain goes away, then at least they'll know where it came from.

    However, unfortunately, and I am really disappointed, that so far the pain hasn't gone away. I get woken up every night from extreme right-sided back pain (it's as if I get 'stuck' when I'm asleep and when I try to move a little it is so painful!). Last night it woke me up FOUR times! It's so frustrating. I'm still not sure if they injected the correct area on the right side because the needle mark is about 4 inches lower than where the pain actually comes from. My surgeon and I actually agreed on the spot, but a different surgeon did the injection procedure, so I don't really know what went on (heavily sedated). I suppose he could have 'angled' the needle upwards, I don't know, but I'll wait for my review appointment (by telephone) and discuss it with them then. I'm still hopeful that the pain will ease off after the steroid stuff has longer to do it's thing. In fact, I'm relying on it !!

    I really hope you get some relief from your ongoing pain. When you see your surgeon later this month, don't forget to write all your questions down. If you're anything like me, once you get in the room and know how busy they all are, it's so easy to forget everything you wanted to say!

    Please let us all know how your appointment goes and if they offer you any further tests to find out the source of your pain OK?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • I've heard it is rare to remove hardware?
  • I had mine removed two weeks ago. I had two positive hardware blocks, an MRI, and a CT Scan before we decided to go ahead with the removing of the hardware. It's a tough decision to take them back out not knowing the end result. My bruises are still fading. It is still extrememly sore. I'm hoping for the best but nothing is for sure in back pain.
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