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Surgical site keeps reopening with drainage

Back in March 14' I had a L4-L5-S1 fusion with a rod and screw. Within a short period of time I became very itchy around the site. It was assumed that it was from the healing process.

In the later part of June it was discovered that two areas reopened and were draining. I was put on antibiotics for 44 days. Had to keep the areas covered at all times. It would seem as though it was finally healing only to start draining again. The longest I would go without draining was 3 days.

In the mean time, I was getting itchy all over. Getting little red bumps and some areas where the skin rises and if you scratch a patch of dead skin falls off only to return in a week.

After 4 months of draining, a MRI was done showing a large pool of seroma in the area. The surgeon brought me back into surgery the beginning of Nov., cleaned out the area and this time sutured the area (15 stitches). He did two cultures on the fluid both came back negative.

Issues with itching has persisted with white marks now on my forearms. Ironically after the first surgery I developed a bumpy texture to the sides of both forearms, which went completely away after the second surgery. The site healed and I was finally able to take baths again. Still the itchiness persisted. The surgeon thought maybe I had a skin fungal issue and recommended I go to a dermatologist. I can not get into the dermatologist until mid Jan.

My last appointment with the surgeon was a week ago. Where he discovered the site had reopened. Told me to cover it again during the day as he thought maybe the waist of my pants (which are not tight) was causing the site to open. He also said in regards to the itchiness that it seems as though I am having an allergic reaction. I am now back to showers only.

The site is draining again. In all of the surgeries I have had, I have never had problems like this. The only thing different is this time they put hardware in. Doing some research I have found that people can have issues with nickel and 4% of the population has problems with titanium. I do have issues with wearing post earrings that have hypoallergenic metal. I am going to have the dermatologist do a test to see if I am sensitive to these metals.

I know long story here. Has anyone ever had issues like this? I believe the fusion is complete or nearly complete and the rod and screw is just to stabilize the area. Has anyone ever had to have the rod/screw removed? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


  • I have had a partial hardware removal since I also needed another fusion done. So they are able to remove the hardware, ask your surgeon about it because this may be a possibility and see what the pros/cons would be. Did you see if the derm. Could place you on a cancellation list so that if someone else cancels you can take their appointment? Hopefully all goes well for you!
  • I have called about cancellations but they said new patients rarely cancel. So I am biding my time on that issue. Once I get the info from the dermatologist then the surgeon and I can brain storm about what to do. I have heard once the fusion is done, the hardware is not necessary. While I do not want to go back into surgery, I also do not want to have to live my life worrying about the site opening again. Or the ever increasing itching.

    Thanks for your input.
  • specialist. It is not normal for an incision to keep re-opening, over and over . There has to be something causing it......and a wound care specialist might be the right doctor to find out what that cause is.
  • Thanks Sandi. We have talked about a wound care specialist. I suspect that if the dermatologist comes up with nothing then it will be on to the wound care people. We are also checking my thyroid although honestly I don't know why that might be a factor in this entire episode.

    I just want to find the cause, get it taken care of and then be able to go about my life without worrying about the incision reopening again.

    Thanks for your suggestion.
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