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Broken Rod

I just found out one of my rods is broken in two places in the L5 area. There are two breaks and a few cracks. I see people saying it cant happen well I've seen the breaks and I can plainly see they are broken. Now I have to have more surgery to fix it. I don't know who's fault it is, the maker of the rods or the doctor and I don't care what I care about is the pain and how to fix it.
My doctor has an interest in the making of the rods used my back so my concern is finding out what really went wrong and how it wont happen again. My fusion is from the T9 thru Sacrum and I had it 4 yrs ago. I'm 47 and female.
I felt the rods break, I was bending over ( well my version of bending ) and I felt a pop and got a major stabbing pain, when resting didn't work and it got worse I went to my PA who sent me to my surgeon. He said he had never seen anything like it before. So reading on here that it cant happen is surprising considering the number of people who say its happened and the fact that their doctors are telling them that's what it is.
I would like to hear from anyone who this happened to and see how they are dealing with it


  • You unfortunately are one of the very few that actually have what we all think we have from one time to another. Since your fusion was four years ago, is there any chance that they will just remove them and not replace it? The fusion should have already taken a long time ago.

    Sorry you're having to pain that goes along with it.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • healed completely, then they may just remove the rods and screws and not replace them. The purpose behind the use of the rods and screw is to maintain spinal alignment and spacing while the fusion process happens . Once you have obtained solid fusion, there is no mechanical need for the hardware any longer.
    Unfortunately, there are times that either the rods or the screws can break, I had two screws loosen after my first surgery, but since I was not fused, they were replaced and then crosslinked to ensure they wouldn't back out of the vertebre again.
  • I had a bracket break.... before being fused, so I had to get more hardware. It wasn't nearly the recovery as a fusion is.... so if you do have to have the rod replaced, at least it will be *relatively* easy. Hopefully though you won't have too.
    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.
  • siillyy2000ssiillyy2000 Posts: 10
    edited 07/02/2013 - 6:27 AM
    I'm not sure what he is going to do yet. But I'm not sure I understand how they would just take them out. They go the entire length of my spine from shoulders to ass crack wouldn't they have to cut me open the whole way no matter what they do? After all the rods are fused to the bone so I would image the pain would be the same as before surgery. I've been on pain meds since the surgery because I have sever hyper sensitive nerve damage on my left side. Even wearing shirts or taking a shower is painful.
    I hope someone can help me understand how they remove the rods and how it would be less painful then the first surgery. I'm confuse. Thanks
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 07/02/2013 - 8:05 AM
    The rods are not fused to the bone. My understanding (and I'm not a doctor, so take that as is) they run the rods through a sort of "bracket system" on the screw heads. So in theory, I assume they would have to loosen the screws and pull the rods through. All of those decisions will most likely be made based on your pain levels. They might decide to only open you up enough to cut the rod (above or below) the break and remove just part of it. So if the breaks are at L5, then you might only have a small portion removed thus a small incision. I know I've read on here many times where once you are fused you don't need the rods any more. I know I asked my surgeon this specific question after I had to have my last hardware revision. He basically said "in theory yes that's true", but in my case I could not be "un supported" and although we hope to never have to go back in for any reason, the bottom line is they would revise, but worse case scenario even if they had to take it all out they would still put something back in. Now, I'm not sure if that was just because of my past spinal history or what. I am cut literally from my neck to crack... and my hard ware revision was (I know i measured it) just shy of a foot I believe. Regardless, I can't say enough that the revision was NO WHERE CLOSE to the recovery of the actual fusions. I am sorry you've had so many issues. I do hope you can get some answers soon and get it resolved.

    **also, my new hardware is manufactured by K2M. You can google it and see how the new systems work on their website. I'd imagine the other manufacturers have similar products. I'm not sure how that compares to what is currently in your back. My original "system" was 100% different, but that system was only used short term in the very late 80s and early 90s. Most of the systems used before and after that time frame (and even during that time frame for smaller scale fusions) are "removable" (or at least that is what my surgeon explained to me).

    Keep us posted.
    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.
  • They did a revision surgery because when the rods broke they hit my spine and cracked it. My one Rod broke, the other Rod couldn't hold everything and when it broke it took out my lower spine with it. During revision surgery they remove my upper rods and had to replace the lower ones because of the broken spine. Up until they broke I saw my surgeon on a regular basis until he cleared me, saying everything was fully fused. So it's not like they weren't fused because they were.

    Found out after talking to a lawyer that there was a recall on my batch of the Polaris spinal kit. There is also a new recall open right now on screws. This is the manufacturer fault. Not mine. I did everything I should do, and everything they told me to do,

    My life has sucked ever since. The second surgery went bad and now I'm in constant pain and almost never leave the house. It's a nightmare for me and my family.
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