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Infection after Spinal Fusion

I am new to the Forum, and hoping that some of you may have some good insight. When I was 22 years old I was hit from behind by a driver going about 50 mph. I ended up with herniated disks in my neck and in lower back. After 8 years of steroid therapy injected and oral, Chiropractors, many rounds of Physical therapy, pain management basically anything out there. My pain had grown so much more sever and was having a tuff time using my hands, dropping things ect. So after seeing a Nero surgeon and the determination was made that I had no more disks in c-5/6 we finally decided to take the big jump to have surgery. I had a Spinal Fusion June 2013.
After surgery I had a lot of blood loss so stayed in ICU for2 days, a room for one and was finally released to go home. I noticed a lot of voice hoarseness in my voice over the next week but the Doctor said that was to be expected since my fusion was done by entering the front of my neck. 2 Weeks later I started to have major trouble swallowing and my incision looked a bit pussy, I was also externally tired. their office still said this may happen, 3 days later I spiked a Fever of 103, could barely keep my eyes open and was in such unbelievable pain finally they said I needed to go to the Er right away.
MRI’s and lots of cultures and blood work were done to determine I had 2 infections and an abscess that was growing on the hard ware. I was told if I would have gone to bed that night instead of going to the ER that I probably would have not have survived the night the abscess was so large it was cutting of my air way.
I had another surgery to remove the abscess were awake I had to swallow my own breathing tube that was a traumatic experience all on its own. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Was then sent home with 6 weeks of Antibiotics. The ones I was sent home with made me violently ill and spent another week in the hospital adjusting those meds. When the 6 weeks were up the oral antibiotics did the same thing and spent 2 more 1 week stays in the hospital.
I have finally returned to work but my Infectious Disease Doctor has made it clear that unless I remove the hard ware in my neck I will have to take oral antibiotics 4 times a day for the rest of my life. Not only do they make me sick at times, but I have to be so carful who I am around. Anyone with a cold or anytime of contagious illness I must stay away from. Of course working full time in a large office that is impossible. I am also deadly afraid of becoming sick or the slightest sore through has me so paranoid taking my temperature because I have been told the abscess can always grow back..
I need some advice should I just go through another surgery and have the hard ware removed? Should I stay on Antibiotics for the rest of my life in live in this crazy fear? The Nero surgeon says take the antibiotics for a year and have an MRI every 3 months to make sure all is well only 10% of people ever have a return infection….my luck I would be that 10% Infectious deses says have it removed or take the Antibiotics the rest of your life. The Surgeon says he will remove it anytime I want but I am scared any one goes through this at all????? Words of Wisdom????


  • I'd leave it in and take the antibiotics and request a CT at 6 months post op, if I was fused at that time I'd schedule the surgery to remove the hardware. If I wasn't fused, I'd go another 6 months and repeat the CT to check for fusion, then I'd have the hardware removed Of course that is just my opinion giving what you have said above. Best of luck to you. Sorry you are going through all of this.
    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.
  • mickkrmmickkr Posts: 166
    edited 11/30/2013 - 9:02 PM
    Sadie you don't say if you are fused. If yes then have the hardware removed asap, if that is what the doctor suggests. I have read of a number of cases over the years of hardware "harboring" infections and inevitably it seems removal is necessary before the infection can be overcome completely.

    Even if you are not completely fused it is probably a good idea to find out if the infection is slowing or even preventing fusion taking place. I have personal experience of someone who had to have his entire surgery repeated because of MRSA. I myself had a MRSA infection following surgery (t5/6 thoractomy and fusion) but fortunately for me the infection was killed off before it reached the spine. Nevertheless I spent a grueling 16 weeks in hospital and my overall recovery was very slow as a result.


    ps Pub Med report : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2270376/
    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    edited 12/01/2013 - 12:11 AM
    After 6 or 7 weeks of Iv antibiotics for 24 hrs a day followed by a year of oral antibiotics. Im cured for now with a 25 % chance of coming back. I was told I had the choice stay on the antibiotics for the rest of my life or quit taking them and see what happens. So far so good. My infection was in the disc and tissue itself and no hardware involved. I stopped the antibiotics by my own choice, once the infection was gone I had surgery to repair all the damage done which involved cleaning out the bad tissue and fuse l5-s1. Everytime I start to feel like i had the flu i start to freak out, I worry about the hardware in my back now,.Its bad enough we have to deal with spine issues then the infection thrown in just makes everything worse, I know you agree on that one, That is the last thing we think about during surgery. If I was you the hardware would come out, as said above it harbors the infection. Good luck and keep us posted
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