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latest update on my recovery post infected hardware removal

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi guys!

I just thought I would give a little update on my progress.

I am just over 8 weeks post op now and am still feeling pretty rough. On a positive note quite a lot of my back pain is easing off and I have more mobility now. On a negative I am exhausted still.

My GP has now said that I won't be going back to work until after Christmas. It is a rellief, actually, because it means I have time to get better.

It turns out that having had this infection for so long (PLIF two years ago with signs of a deep infection appearing about 18 months agao) my body has had enough. She had already warned me to expect to take 12 months to fully recover and says that I am actually doing well. My activty level is restricted to about a couple of hours out and about maximium at the moment but I am building up slowly.

I have just had to alter my expectations of my days so that I don't feel too disappointed with the little I can achieve.

I have read a lot of books and can manage to do some cooking - I can even manage to do a little bit of shopping for ingredients now!

I am sure I will get there in the end - I am better now than I was 6 weeks agao it is just taking a long time.

Anyway, I will be seeing the surgeon on 31st for blood test results. I just hope that they come back clear, I don't want to have to deal with anymore surgery thank you very much!



  • You've been through a lot, so not surprised that you're still feeling exhausted. Good too that you've got the rest of the year to heal before having to go back to work - takes some pressure off, doesn't it.

    It's hard accepting limitations, but hopefully you'll be able to do more as the weeks go by.

    Hope your blood test results come back clear.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • What a relief to have been given more time to recover so that you can heal properly! And, during the holiday season you can be home and focus on yourself and your loved ones!!

    I know it is difficult to have to change your expectations to fit into your body's abilitities. But, you will get there! The finish line is within your sight, finally!! :)

    Take care my friend and enjoy your outings! :)

  • Thanks guys! I am sure I might actually have gone insane without all the support I feel from being able to chat to you all.

    I do feel a bit lighter not having to worry about work for the time being. It is still a bit strange to think that I have been pretty seriously ill. I am being so patient with myself - honest! I hardly recognise this person!! Mind, I think my hubby has paid a few times, catching the end of my patience if you know what I mean?

    My gp did seem sure I would get better so I am going to believe her. She has been the only one to believe me this whole time - well since I saw her in april anyway.

    Well I will keep you informed of all developments. Hope you have a minimal pain day at least.
  • Hi Nel

    So happy to hear you're doing well. I also felt exhausted for the first three months after my revision, and now at almost 6 months out much better.

    My surgeon has also warned me to conserve energy and pace myself for the next 6 months too. In super news, my fusion is now almost complete and the infection still gone.

  • Best wishes, and good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • How did you get a infection so long after?
  • Hi all!

    Emily - thanks for letting me know how you were doing at this point. It is hard to know what is normal when the complication is "infrequent"! It is good to know that you are doing well - I have wondered how you were getting on and guessed that no news was good news! I hope the infection stays gone for you.

    Alex - thanks - I do feel I need some good luck tbh!!

    Bedawgs - hmmm. Now that is a question. I don't think I actually developed the infection late I catually think it was the inital wound infection that I got 10 days post op and it wasn't treated aggressively enough at the time. I also had symptoms of an infection from about 6 months post op but kept being fobbed off. In short my surgeon was a bit of an ass!

    I have another meeting with said "ass" this afternoon when he will review my xrays and let me know my blood results. I really hope all is ok and I can start physio at least.

    Anyway, will update you all later.
  • My bloods are back to normal and my xray shows fusion and no collapse so my surgeon says that "we are winning".

    He said I can do whatever I want now but then when I asked about swimming he said OK but only once a week! So it seems that when he says go back to normal that isn't really what he means! He says I have to be patient (bored of hearing that now) but what he said all agreed with what my GP had said so I am assuming it is all good advice. So I can do once a week trips to the pool for 2-3 weeks and then I can increase to twice a week pain/exhaustion depending.

    Still no physio - he says a physio will push me too hard (I do that to myself enough I think) and so I will wait until the new year to address my glute weakness.

    Anyway - all good I think, just need a RX for patience now....
  • Nel

    After pushing and a lot of direct questions I did get the honest truth about what one can and can't do after one of these redo's for infection ... Nothing than can make you fall. Nothing that is bumpy. My surgeon specifically said that for 2 years all I can do is walk, swim and exercise cycle. He feels that the bone needs to harden for all of that time for the fusion to be safe.

    Also no physio for me, for the same reason. One week off in eight until a year out. Because there really isn't another chance for me. Too much bone loss.
  • That is crazy,my surgeon at 6 months post op on my back did a white blood count to see because of the pain,he told me it would be high if any infection,but thank the Lord it was normal,Im just going to have to deal with it and mine is due to 2 back surgries from the back.But im thankful I didnt have to go through a infection,that must have benn hard on you.
  • Bedawgs - I had plenty of normal blood tests over the last year - they aren't the only indicator of these sort of infections. I tended to get pain spikes associated with a fever, but did have both independent of each other. The trouble is that these bacteria form a biofilm that your immune system doesn't detect so, of course, bloods can be normal until the next "break out". That's not to say that you have an infection, of course, this has just been my experience. I have done a lot of reading about these biofilm bacteria over the last few months - not a lot else to do!! ;)

    Emily - yes, the surgeons aren't very good at saying what they really mean! His words were "you can go back to doing what you want" but what he meant was "only a little bit"!! I am being very careful because I want to get better, finally. I know that although he says I have "solid" fusion the second opinion chap I saw suggested I only had a little bit of fusion - right across but only one bit. So I am being careful not to overdo too much and hope that maybe now the infection has gone some bone may grow. I am not sure if it can but we will see!
  • I have had a PLIF in June 2011. Now I have chronic osteomyelitis. I have had hardware removal with retention of Cages. Now I am on indefinite Bactrim.

    My conundrum is that my infectious disease MD, thinks the cages might be the foci for my chronic osteomyelitis. She talked to my surgeon about pro's and cons of removing the cages. He noted removal would be difficult as it would require an anterior approach. (I don't know what means)

    So I am on chronic Bactrim. Pain is not too bad. My worry is it seems I have two management pathways, see if infection can resolve on chronic antibiotics or see if another surgical debridement is possible.

    Can anyone provide a similar situation?
    You do not need to read the below to offer comments to my question
    Perhaps my treatment history can help.

    Two days after surgery, I experienced immediate relief. There I developed a rapid escalation of pain in my lower back (instead of my legs). At the same time my incision was soaking my dressings and bead linen. At week 2-4, at follow up, I had an open wound with puss. My CRP was very high > 11 (my ESR was also high) The surgeon obtained a surface sample of puss to culture; that grew out MRSA.

    He felt the infection was superficial, versus deep, but I do not think he did any other testing to see if I had a deep infection.

    Three months later pain started a steady increase and my CRP and ESR went to 11 and 85. My surgeon felt that I had a Deep infection after-all. I had to have my hardware removed except the cages. I was discharged on the bactrim again and in 6 weeks I developed a rip-roaring deep infection.
    Infectious disease MD's joined my treatment team. They diagnosed the second deep infection. This time, though, I was discharged on IV antibiotics (Vancomycin).After the IV antibiotics, I began my chronic oral antibiotics, 5 months ago. (Apparently it was difficult to tell if I have achieved fusion.)
    That brings me to my request for similar situations and potential prognoses.
  • Hi,

    wow, how similar our tales began! I developped the same sort of leaking wound - it was so bad that my clothes would be wet so I just wore PJs for 4 weeks! My surgeon decided it was just superficial too.

    I had signs of a deep infection - odd fevers, increased pain - from about 6 months post op but my surgeon kept saying superficial. Any way, long story short, nearly 2 years post op he finally acknowledged that there was infection in there when he took the hardware out and saw it. Mind you he still maintains that earlier fevers etc and the lump on my scar at 9 months post op were superficial!! (need I tell you I have a new surgeon?!)

    I had taken a second opinion last summer and he had suggested that my infection could be in the cages too and he basically said if it was it was going to have to stay there. Like I said in an earlier post in this thread I have read a lot about biofilms and it is unlikely they will be dislodged with IV antibiotics. Of course, OM is caused by biofilm bacteria too.

    I feel so bad for you that it has turned out this way. I really hope they can clear you of this infection. I wish you so much luck. All the best, Helen
  • my story is similar too, got a staph infection after the staples were taken out 10 days after surgery but the surgeon said it was not in the bone graft. I had oral antibiotics for 6 or 7 weeks and then was cut off. He only checked up on my back for 3 months and then went away for 6 months. I did see the dr. who was covering for him 7 mos. after the surgery and he looked at the old x-rays and said everything was fine. All he did was refer me to the pain clinic which took 4 months. Now they tell me I have a lumbosacral disk space infection with nonunion and loosening of implants. They also said there has been marked erosion of the adjacent vertical emdplates at the lumbosacral junction so there is damage to the bones that wasn't there before the operation. I see the surgeon tomorrow and hope he will take out the hardware and try to clear up the infection.
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