Broken screw in recent lumbar fusion L-4 to S-1

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Anonymous (not verified)
Title: Member
Broken screw in recent lumbar fusion L-4 to S-1

I am 45 and have degenerative Lordosis in my lumbar region. In 8/08 I had L-4 to L-5, L-5 to S-1 fusion surgery. During that surgery he tried to straighten my back but couldn't because of my nerves that were firing a lot he said, but succefully eleviated the disk pressure on my nerves. I went back for my 6 week x-ray and visit, everything was going well. 2 weeks later started to hear and feel a grinding sound on my right side and pain around my right buttock area and right hip. My pain management doc and my physical therapist said that is was probably just my back because it hadn't fused yet. 3 weeks ago went in for my next surgeon visit and x-ray and it showed I have a broken screw on my right S-1 area. I am now going in for surgery again to replace the broken screw on the right and he is going to put 2 more screws below it to stabilize my back. I don't smoke, haven't fallen or done anything strenuous, nothing to make the screw break. I am in pain and need the surgery soon, but don't want the screws to break again. My regular doctor said he never heard of anyone having more screws put in below the S-1. Also everyone I have talked to said they haven't heard of titanium screws breaking. Any thoughts?

motorator's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 07/03/2008 - 7:32pm

My Dr told me there is the possibility of a screw breaking.

He said he had one patient that had repeat breakage.


Angelback (not verified)
Title: Member
Hi Lyn

I have to say that I have only heard of it a couple of times here.
Does the surgeon think the screw broke due to the lordosis and that is why he is putting 2 in its place?

I am sorry you have to go through this now, especially after a pretty big op already.

It probably has nothing to do whith what you ahve or haven't done, like fusion or non-fusion sometimes it just happens.

Blessings Sara Angel

itsalongwalk (not verified)
Title: Member
My doc warned

me too about screws breaking, said was quite common. (??)

I am sorry you are in pain. I can only suggest not to do anything too strenous as you are not yet fused either and don't want to put added pressure on the good side.

Take care.

Bruce's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/19/2008 - 7:57pm
Hi justlynn and welcome to

Hi justlynn and welcome to

Broken screws are not common, but it does happen. In two years on these boards I have not seen more than a handful of cases.

I am interested about your doctor placing more screws below S1 - obviously to transfer some load from the end screw at S1 and thus reduce the load on S1 so it wont break again.

All the best and keep us posted with your progress... Bruce

Keep positive!

Bruce old timer here and ex-moderator

justlynn4 (not verified)
Title: Member
thanks for reply

My Dr. said it was nothing I did that made the screw break, if anything I should be mad at him because he underestimated the amount of weight, force that was put on the screws because he could not straighten my back and correct the lordosis during the surgery, or he said it could be a faulty screw. So now he wants to put in two more screws below in the S-2 area on the right and left side to stabilize my back. My P.T. person said they have never heard of a screw breaking, and my regular doc said they have heard of screws breaking but very rarely, and never heard of screws put in the S-2 area. I am so confused and don't know what to believe. Still on pain meds and want to get off them.

Lo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 08/28/2008 - 10:10am

S2? I thought there was no movement between S1 and anything below that... And don't only SOME people have mini discs there? Or is it just that position that they want to put the screws in?

billy 777 (not verified)
Title: Member
L-5 S-1

i had back sugrey about a yaer ago did not work now have broken scerws and it hurts bad he wants me to louse 40 pounds . thats hard to do when it`s hard to walk around the block. thanks billy

Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/23/2008 - 7:44pm
Mine broke

My screw broke in S1 inside the bone. My doctor said it shows the strength of the back. He is leaving the broken screw in me since fusion has occurred and removing it would be life threatening.
These 2,000 dollar a piece screws or more should be warranted since mine broke within the first year. I want my money back!!!! lol
Hope you get the help you need.

BocadelaVeritas (not verified)
Title: Member
2 Broken Screws

I am 33 years old have had 2 spinal fusion surgeries in the last 8 years. Yesterday I went to the doctor to figure out why I has again having so much pain. Plain film X-rays reveled that I have broken yet another titanium screw.
My first fusion was in 2001. Six months post-op I broke a screw and as a result never formed a solid fusion. This surgery was to fuse L5-S1.
My second surgery was in March 2007 and was set to fuse L2-S1. The surgery was much easier to recover from as I didn't have to have a bone graft taken from my hip. The surgeon used BMP (bone morphogenic protein) instead.
When I broke the first screw, my doctor told me that it is such a rare occurrence, and equated it to being struck by lightning. So now that I have broken 2 separate screws I am beginning to wonder if I am just very unlucky or if I should go buy a lottery ticket.
I am very frustrated and in quite a bit of pain. During my second surgery, the doctors were able to remove a portion of the first broken screw, but were not able to get the rest as it is embedded in bone. This broken screw has caused me to have a non-fusion at L5 and the doctor says my next option is yet another surgery, would be my 3rd and I am only 33, an for him to put in cages and new screws.

Has anyone begun to think that there might be a problem with these screws and the manufacturer??

haglandc (not verified)
Title: Member

One thing that I learned about titanium, is that although it is a lightweight and strong metal, if bent too much, it becomes brittle and snaps. Not knowing you and not knowing your specific situation, I can only guess. Is it possible that you are so active, that you bend and stress areas of your spine where the screws are snapping? Has your doc presented any possible solutions or alternatives to these screws, to stabilize your spine?

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