Dear All, thank you in advance for your kind advice. I am female, 38. I fell 30 feet landing on my feet and I had a "burst fracture of L2 vertebral body; retropulsion of fracture fragment with marked narrowing of central spinal canal at L2 level. Fracture of right lamina of L2 vertebra." All neurological functions were perfectly normal.
I had a surgery last year in April, 2013. Since the surgery I have recovered perfectly and I never had any pain since then.
Now, my question is: I currently live in Japan and I was operated in Tokyo. My Japanese surgeon (experienced and reputable) told me that in Japan they normally always remove hardware one year after the surgery. He said, "There are various opinions about it, various schools of thought but I personally believe that it is better to remove your hardware after one year." He said I might have some problems in the future and if I do have problems it will be harder to remove the hardware years later after it grows into my tissue. So, if I have it removed one year after the surgery it will be just a routine surgery and my bone will heal and fill in the holes created by the hardware (or at least this is how I understood his explanation in Japanese).
However, my European and American friends (doctors and physiotherapists) insist that "unless your hardware bothers you, there is no need to remove it". So, now I have a dilemma - my surgeon (whom I trust after the successful surgery) is inclined to believe that I need to have my hardware removed. All other people tell me it is unnecessary. What is the right answer? (Oh, by the way, my operating surgeon in Tokyo is not interested financially in my second surgery at any rate. I live i Osaka and I just happened to be in Tokyo after the accident. So, he told me "just do your removal surgery in Osaka, no need to come to Tokyo."
Now exactly one year passed after my original surgery and I am wondering; should I have a hardware-removal surgery or not? What is the best for my spine in the long run? Will my spine be stronger with the hardware or will it be stronger without the hardware? Why is there such a difference between Japanese vs. North American-European approaches?
Naturally, I do not want to suffer another surgery and waste time in the hospital but what is the best thing to do health-wise?
Your input will be highly appreciated. Thank you for your time.