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Broken Screw after L4/L5 Fusion


Anyone out there end up with a broken screw after an L4/L5 fusion? I'm 10 months post-op and started having leg pain and tenderness in my lower back. Found out I had a screw that was broken. I'm just curious as to how many people this has happened to and whether they had the corrective surgery or just left it alone?




  • I do not have any broken screws, but I'm curious of what other members have experienced with hardware, so i'm commenting. I hope you get some answers soon, and I hope everything can be quickly fixed so you can continue on your recovery.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Prior to my recent surgery mid Feb, I had undergone a procedure in 1997 to stabilise L4/5/S1 and repair 2 herniated discs. The procedure was an experimental alternative to a fusion, and therefore the hardware, 6 screws and 6 bands, were all that provided the required stability. After experiencing severe back and leg pain in 2010 it was noted that one of my screws had in fact broken in half, and after a number of alternative less intrusive procedures, I finally had to go for fusion. The more complex part of my operation was in fact the removal of the existing hardware, and my surgeon confirmed on opening me up it was clear the hardware had failed and all the bands had snapped / come off in addition to the broken screw, and hence my problems for the last 2 years. He was able to remove 5 screws fully, but could only remove half of the broken screw as the other part was deep inside the vertebrae and would have been difficult to remove. Fortunately they fusion actually required a different, more accurate placement of the screws and hence the broken part could be worked around. I guess this goes to show that removal of hardware is possible, but can come with complications, and where a screw is broken it can be difficult to remove fully.
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