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Post Revision Cervical Infection

AvaWellesAAvaWelles Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All,

Since my posterior cervical revision I have had fevers, swelling, severe pain and abnormal labs (elevated white cell count, sed rate, and CRP). The surgeon and all the surgery fellows that have been following my case said that if it was an infection it COULD NOT be treated with antibiotics because I have metal hardware in my neck. They said the only way to treat was to open it up and clean it out.

Well, I had a white blood cell scan which came back showing an active infection in my neck around the hardware at multiple levels. This test was ordered by another doctor (not my surgeon).

The surgeon, who is impossible to get hold of, now is prescribing (via his nurse and without seeing me) a short course oral antibiotic. This seems wrong to me after all they told me previously.

I am seeing another surgeon for second opinion soon, but wondered if anyone else with titanium hardware has had a similar experience (being treating with short course oral antibiotics)?



  • Absolutely. My story is a bit different to yours but the long and the short of it is that oral antibiotics didn't work. I had an immediate post op wound infection that drained for 4 weeks. Only oral antibiotics for 3 weeks. Then about 1 year post op had a draining lump on my scar. More antibiotics for about 4 weeks. 6 months later another flare up treated with one week of antibiotics. Finally flare up this august and had hardware out.
    Incidentally I often had normal bloods during this time.
  • for the response! I am most frustrated because they told me up to now that they couldn't give me antibiotics because of the titanium. And now that they have found an infection, they have changed their story. Sick as I am, and in as much pain as I am, I feel like I have to be constantly on my toes for these inconsistent statements by my doctors. I just want to get better and not have to keep going through this. I am so worn out with the process.
  • It is really difficult. My surgeon maintained for the last twelve months that any infection I may have had was "superficial". He said it was a stitch sinus for ages and then the next flare up he said the infection could have come from anywhere. He never believed that I had infection on the metalwork - even the day he went in to get the hardware out he still thought I was making it all up. He kept telling me I wasn't in enough pain to have infected metalwork!! He was very wrong - he found my metalwork completely covered in pus.

    I even had a second opinion - this guy said that I did have infected metalwork but that as I was in a non-flare up time that the infection wouldn't come back! Exactly a month after seeing him it did!!

    I have done a load of internet research - what else would I do with my time while bed bound? What I have read suggests that infected metalwork rarely clears without at least debridement and probably needs removal. It seems to depend how late the infection develops. An early one can be dealt with by debriding and then antibiotics but late needs removal and then antibiotics.

    I found this literature review very useful : http://journals.lww.com/smajournalonline/Fulltext/2010/01000/Postoperative_Instrumented_Spine_Infections__A.8.aspx

    Good luck. I hope you get this resolved faster than I did!
  • Hope you're feeling better now that it has been removed. I am almost 9 months post-revision fusion in my neck and it has been problematic since the beginning. I feel so frustrated, but, at the same time, terrified that they may have to go back in or put me on an IV for a few months. There comes a point when your body just feels violated by the entire process. I guess you do what you have to do if it means you may get better.
  • I was scared about them going back in too. When I had my initial wound infection I was so pleased that they just treated it with oral antibiotics - more fool me!

    I am slowly getting better but recovering from this sort of infection with a surgery on top is no breeze. I am 8 weeks post op and still off work - can't imagine going back anytime soon either.

    I think that they can give the IV antibiotics as an outpatient thing through a PICC line so maybe if you need them you won't have to be stuck in hospital.

    Good luck.
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