Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Failed fusion 14 months post/op; LOUD POP -->broken titanium rod

HooperHHooper Posts: 1
edited 10/23/2015 - 9:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello. Certainly didn't want to have to sign in to this forum and talk about my problems and concerns, but here I am.

RN x 21 years with last 12 years as a flight nurse on a helicopter.

First fusion was single level L5-S1 with hardware. 9+ hours on the table and 6 days in the hospital. Felt good after the long recover and returned to nursing - ER, ICU.....Flight. (Might should've stayed out of flying but love my job! December 2012, my helicopter crashed. We all survived (obviously grateful) - I blew out my lumbar spine and cervical spine. Texas WC case and then we moved to Colorado....makes using Texas WC in Colorado damn near impossible. Two years after the accident, I had a 3 level fusion after they removed the old hardware from the old fusion and then fused, screwed, bolted, caged, etc. L3-L4-L5-S1. This was 14 months ago. My pain was essentially gone, physical activity was increasing and enjoyable. Great! This past Saturday I was cleaning dog poo in the backyard - nothing strenuous! POP! It was load and forceful and it scared me! There shouldn't be anything down there to pop! Then came the discomfort....then the pain. Mostly on the life; radiates into left leg. Saw my surgeon today and wouldn't you know? One of two titanium rods broke! It BROKE! Are you serious???? It's broke??? What? NO FUSION either?????? WTH? CT scan tomorrow then we schedule surgery. I asked if he was just going to replace the one broken rod. Nope. He will take ALL of the year-old hardware out, clean it up again, and place new hardware and bone graft. I just am in shock that this happened!!!! It sounds like a big job my surgeon has cut out for him (no pun intended) and I wonder if I should expect more pain post op and a longer recovery? I certainly don't want to go through this a FOURTH time if this upcoming one fails. How to prolong the life of your spinal hardware and fusion....that's my question!

Thanks in advance!


Please do not use abbreviations!!
Liz, Spine-health Moderator


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 10/21/2015 - 9:03 PM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    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 growing.
    Here are just some of the highlights that are available as tabs on the main Spine-Health menu bar

    Spine-Health Main Menu Tabs

    Conditions Detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal condition.
    Treatment List of treatments to the conditions identified by Spine-Health.
    Wellness Section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.
    Medical Articles
    Pain Forums These are the forums you will be using
    Find A Doctor This provides with a method to search for doctors in various locations.
    Videos Index to all Spine-Health Videos

    As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here you can meet thousands of people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family[/u] who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. You are now part of this family that is approximately 27,00 international members and growing daily.


    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts[u] do not violate any of the rules.[/u]

    - All new members must read our FAQ in order to understand the layout of the forums, how to navigate through the forums, helpful terms, how to make effective threads and posts, plus a link index to many of the important medical forums and key medical articles on Spine-Health Forum FAQ

    I am positive any member, new or old will find this Chroinc Pain - Step by Step thread very valuable.

    Here are some links that all new members need to review to create effective threads and more

    Read before you post
    More Info Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    You can also find Spine-Health on these Social Networks

    Facebook www.facebook.com/spinehealth
    Pinterest http://pinterest.com/spinehealth/boards/
    Twitter https://twitter.com/SpineHealth

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the private message facility to[u] contact any one of the Spine-Health Moderators




    Also working with us very closely is Allison Walsh from the Spine-Health company


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I am so sorry to read about your experiences. I am 35 and had such a great life, the career I worked so hard at for 5 years to finally get, a wife, several small children, and a good home. Then after a minor accident at work i had horrible leg pain and unable to walk for days. Then had micro discsectamy and i felt great afterwards, so happy. Few months later minor shift at work and BAM, Horrible nerve pain in leg and foot for 8 months, tried everything possible but nothing slowed it down. Had a fusion 4 weeks ago and still in daily bad nerve pain in foot, extremely burning right now as I typed this. I am having such a difficult time staying positive and strong. No on in family understands what I am going through cuz how could they? Only people who have experienced these problems seem to understand. All I can say is I am sorry to hear about your problems, please stay strong and try hard to keep positive? It is difficult but you can do it!
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    Dear Hooper...

    I had a 2 level fusion (L4-S1 PLIF) in May of 2013 with all the screws and rods. The full recovery was long and slow but at 12 months I felt really good. Then at 16 months I started to get some nerve pain back in my lower right leg. At first it wasn't much but then over the next several months it got progressively worse until I couldn't even walk and went to see my surgeon. He ran an MRI to see what was going on and it turns out i had badly herniated the L3-L4 disc AND one of the screws in the L5-S1 fusion was broken and fusion had "slipped". Just like you... my surgeon said he would have to go in and take out ALL of the old hardware plus clean-out the slipped fusion bone material and start all over with a new L5-S1 fusion graft and hardware. I'm now at 9 months post op on the second surgery and still not 100% fused but at least I'm out of pain. My surgeon said the full fusion would likely take longer this time... maybe 16 months or longer... he also said age is a big factor. I never did experience a "POP" or any real noticeable sensation like you when the pedicle screw broke. My surgeon did say that the hardware is not meant to permanently replace your disc but just give support until your spine can fully fuse and by then the stresses on the hardware should go away... so maybe you never fully fused?? Maybe talk to your surgeon about bigger hardware this time around... I do know it comes in different sizes... and on my second fusion surgery they used larger/longer screws.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • I was a practicing RN for 27 years. I won't get into it but I stress "was". Once you have spinal surgery I don't care what anyone tells you because I got 2 differing pieces of advice about "activity"after fusions. You cannot look at this kind of surgery as a cure, you still have to watch everything you do including lifting!! Even if you are completely fused!The plates cause pressure on adjacent discs and can accelerate DDD in those hence leading to more surgeries. The surgeon that was absolutely correct to me is the one who told me "You are going to have to be careful with your neck whether or not you have surgery and your days of working in the hospital are over"! I do wish I would have listened to him but problem with that was my actual surgeon told me I could do anything I wanted-full activity and that's what I did and 1st injury post op was only 15 months post-op and more injuries after that! I was recently awarded disability. PS What is Texas WC??? Are you referring to a type of wheelchair?
  • Susan122SSusan122 Posts: 1
    edited 11/25/2015 - 4:54 AM
    My fusion was 2/9/15 & I was fused from bra strap to tailbone. I'm going to be seeing the surgeon on Dec 2nd, but am anxious to know if I need to go thru the surgery again. The way it is today, I need it. I'm in almost constant pain...even more than before surgery. I WAS beginning to get my exercise routine going again. Only on treadmill and recumbent exercycle, but began feeling like I was having muscle spasms, so I began cutting it back to only 15 minutes. The next day as I squatted down I heard a LOUD pop & thought, "that didn't sound good!"

    Any advise?
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    edited 11/25/2015 - 2:35 PM
    Go see your doctor now... even if it's your GP... don't wait. A simple x-ray can confirm if anything broke or not...
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • My back started popping about 5 months after L4-L5/L5-S1 fusion, it was so loud you could hear me walking 30 feet away & was like getting stabbed with each pop,people gave me funny looks as I walked by them LOL. My pain management Dr was shocked at the sound,my neurosurgeon said I popped the cap off my S1 screw & acted like no big deal. My insurance quit covering him & the hospital he operates out of so I went getting new insurance & Dr. I found a Dr that no longer does back surgeries due to his bad back but would consult on what I needed, turns out every screw is loose & the L4 screw the surgeon put in protruded through the vertebrae & into canal region. I'm told everything has to come out & get replaced along with fusion on the 2 levels above it. I looked at the CT scan I got done 6 months post-op & the one I just had done which was 15 months post-op, glad my insurance quit paying them because you could see the halo around every screw & the one protruding through L4 in the first CT. My cervical fusion(which he fused wrong level thanks to his PA) was very painful recovery & lumbar was a little better but I had better meds, this next 360 fusion & adjacent level fusions I'm not so thrilled about, I really hope it makes some of this pain go away. Feels like someone has a big wrench on my back twisting it & stabbing me just above it. Once I recovery from it I get the pleasure of getting a double cervical fusion to correct the idiot that put my fusion in the wrong place,was hard for me to decide which to do first I'm in such bad pain until I saw the screw through my vertebrae. I've had bad experiences with 2 large practices that have tons of Dr's & even more PA's, my advice to anyone is always get a second opinion at a smaller practice that's not all about the bottom line.
Sign In or Register to comment.