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Revision Surgery Tomorrow 7/22/13

Hi, everyone. This is my first time posting on this board, but I am a long-term orthopedic patient. In 2003, I fell down some concrete stairs and ruptured 3 discs in my lumbar spine. The pedicle screws broke off at the head a few months later. In 2007, due to major problems, I underwent surgery (anterior, from the front) again, and my spinal surgeon installed a plate to reinforce the areas where the bone never fused. Everything went fine with that surgery, except I was left with some residual chronic pain.

Fast forward to 2013, May 30th to be exact. I'd been having problems with DDD, and ruptured discs in my cervical spine (C4-C7). On May 30th, I underwent a ACDF. No complications, released from the hospital the next day in a hard Miami J collar. Wore the collar faithfully, and my 2-week post-op visit went fine. I felt as if everything was going well after that, and was told I could take the collar off to eat or sit still, but still wear it for car rides (no driving yet), going up/down stairs, or walking around. So that's what I did. Six weeks out, I went for my second post-op appointment where I expected I would be told I could dispense with the hated collar. Instead, after the x-rays were taken, the doctor, his PA, and their surgical tech all rushed into the room and began asking me all kinds of questions - how I felt, could I swallow, had I fell without the collar on, etc. and tested my reflexes extensively.

After they calmed down a bit, I asked what the problem was and was shown on the x-rays. Apparently, the screws holding the plate to my vertebrae had actually pulled out of the bone. In essence, the plate is free-floating except for the very topmost screw. The backward flexion x-ray showed the plate actually jutting out and possibly making contact with my esophagus and/or trachea. I was immediately scheduled for revision surgery (immediate means 2 weeks) and told that they will be putting larger screws into the already-present plate, then "flipping you over" and putting a whole new bone graft and instrumentation from the rear.

I think this is pretty unusual, but don't know. I can't find out much about it on line. Anyway, I will be spending the entire summer with this awful collar. Has anyone ever heard of a similar instance?

2005 - PLIF, 3 levels; 2007 - ALIF, 3 levels; May 30, 2013 - ACDF, 4 levels; July 22, 2013 - ACDF revision with PCDF.
For added fun, add in rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and fibromyalgia.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

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    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Jaynie
    I will pray that your surgery goes well and that your recovery will be quick and complete

    I am having spine surgery on August 13, 2013

  • It does happen sometimes that screws either come loose or break.
    I think you are very unlucky to have this happen after a lumbar fusion and a cervical fusion. It has seemed to happen quite quickly too.

    I hope that your surgery tomorrow will go to plan and that this time your recovery will be totally successful and that the screws will stay in place and in one piece.
    Follow all instructions and take care. :-)

    Please come back and let us know how you get on.
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