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Fusion failed, rods broke...

bkprincessbbkprincess Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi. I have lurked for some time now. My back injury was in March of 2009 at work.I was still working, and everyday life was painful with any tasks. I had between a grade 2 and 3 slip at surgery. I had back surgery in Jan 2010. My diagnosis was spondolysthesis(sp) and spinal stenosis. My doctor performed a decompression and stabilization with a fusion at L4/5. There are rods ,screws and hardware attached to my spine and pelvis. It took 8 hours. 4 day Hosp stay.
I returned to my regular job in a day care kitchen in april and was released with MMI in Sept.of 2010. I still had pain on a daily basis,but associated it with the healing process from surgery. In Dec of 2010, my company laid me off after 11 years, due to the economy and cutbacks.
Then,even when I was job searching for 5 months, I still had chronic back and leg pain after all my surgery. I started a new job in May of 2011,but the pain was so severe I was in tears. I could not sleep at night.
We re-opened my WC case is August. At my first appt, the Dr.took xrays. To everyone's surprise, my rods were broken! Titanium rods breaking??? Unheard of mostly. He ordered a CT Meilogram and the scan showed my fusion never took and he said it was a weak point, so the rods snapped. Now my slip at L5 is back between a grade2/3. I am waiting for another surgery in pain. He needs to go anterior and posterior this time to repair my spine.
We are seeking legal advice this go round. I cannot believe I am having another back surgery within 1.5 years of my first one. Any input is appreciated.


  • First, let me welcome you to Spine Health.

    I am in the UK so don't know about the WC in the USA. However, I had the same surgery as you in March 2010 for a Grade 2 spondylolisthetis.

    Yours must be a very unusual case. I have heard of screws breaking or coming loose but not the rods breaking. It makes you wonder if the rods were faulty.

    I know that if fusion doesn't take place, the screws won't last for ever and about 12-24 months seems to be the average time before the hardware gives out. My surgeon told me at about 16 months, that I must be fused otherwise my screws would have worked loose and there was no sign of that.

    Do you have a date for your surgery?
    There are several people on here who have had a 360 fusion (that is what it is commonly called) who will share their experiences. Many of them are now much improved and back to their busy lives.

    I would say you definately should take legal advice, although I expect that everyone will blame something else as the problem. Perhaps when the rods are removed, they should be kept and tested to see if they were the problem.

    You have found a great place for information and support through difficult days. It really helps to be able to chat daily (if needed) to people who really understand and sympathise with what you are going through.

  • Welcome to Spine Health. I hope that you seek out a couple different surgeon (os/ns). I would not let the last surgeon come near you again. Keep us posted.
  • Hi and reading your post, you will definitely be needing a lawyer.
    Being w/c, you almost always need a lawyer to protect yourself. Just be thankful that you did not settle this case yet with them.
    Z06, jellyhall and julie, all gave you great advice and comments now you need to follow up on it.

    In fact i also learned from jellyhall's post, as i am awaiting approval for a 2nd back surgery, and mine is also w/c.

    So get yourself a lawyer 1st before seeing any doctor's or get copies of everything from the doctor's and give to lawyer after you decide who you want to represent you.

    Best of luck, I've been thru this w/c stuff before.
  • Update on what is going on.Correction on my first post. I had a 2 level fusion. The reason why the surgery took so long is because once he got in there it was a lot worse than the test showed. Now fore what is going on now. I went to the dr. to find out the test results from the ct and melogram. The results were I never fused and it caused a weak poiint which made my rods to break.I also have another slip.We have decided to go ahead and do anthore surgery. He is going to go through the front to stablize me by putting in a cage. Then he will flip me over and remove all the old hardware and refuse me. He told me it would me a long surgery, that he would possible have to do the front one day and the back another day. He would not know until he got in there. He told me my cae was unique. I am using the same dr. I trust him complety. There are sevel peoplein the medical profesion that have said he is the best and they would not hesitate to have him operate on them. I feel I am in the best care. I am seeking legal advice because my case is a workers comp case and I want to make sure I am recieving the proper treatment and to understand my rights. Thanks
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