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Broken titanium rod on spine

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Chronic Pain
I had spinal surgery 3 years ago. Two titanium rods and 12 screws. I have been experience pain now for 6 months and just had it checked. I was told that a nut was off and the rod had broken and allowed the disk to deteriorate. Has anyone ever had a broken rod that has caused problems.
I was told that the rod may have broken because of movement.
Seems wrong for that to happen.


  • Sorry to hear about this unwelcome development. How did they discover the rod was broken? MRI, CAT? My pedicle (thoracic) screws don't have nuts, but it feels like there are a few hundred moving around my chest and back and they have very sharp edges!

    Hope someone with some knowledge answers you. Good luck.
  • I really don't know what to say,i do know this though its not your fault by all means.I do know that i would be checking the liability of those rods, There not breakable, thats what they told me because that was my main concern so they told me they were made out of a non-breakable metal Titanuim .I would be seeking a lawyer not against your doctor by all means he was told what we were told.Something don't add up here because if you were to take the sciencetific route here ,the area ,divided ,by the size,then times it by position,it equals faulty manufacturer. Plus your spine would be looking like a train wreck .I have 6 bolts 3 plates and 2 rods in at L-4,L-5,S-1, I hate them badly they cause me nothing but pain and agony,they hurt when the weather gets cold the way my posture is .I actualy feel them one pushes through the skin,i get deep bone pain,every disc above and below has to pay for it in the long run,there all crushing and baring the weight now PS Please Seek a lawyer for the warranty rights remember its not the doc its the maker. Thanks hope i was helpful.
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  • I find it hard to believe you broke a rod, but if it was already cracked before installed, maybe. It makes more sense that you broke a pedicle screw. I would think your back would break before a titanium rod breaks, but then again I'm not a Doctor. I became friends with all my Phys therapists and have heard alot of problems from them, but not a broken rod.

    I had problems with my hardware since day one after my 11hr surgery. I had my hardware removed and it feels so much better without it. Not too very long after my surgery, they came out with smaller pedicle screws. 2 other males in my hydro-therapy class broke screws trying to do too much too soon.

    Now my Spine Doc goes in thru the side instead of thru all the muscle. Not much help now.

    I would go back and see your spine Dr if you have not already and find out exactly what is wrong and go from there. I do not trust many other Drs because I was told I had a normal spine after my first MRI and as soon as my spine Doc saw my MRI he pointed out a tear and a herniated disc and a strange spot that he had never seen before that looked looked like fluid to him setting in a puddle over my nerves going down to my legs.

    Good luck
  • Broken Rod


    My husband when he was 16 had rods put in and a fusion and I don't now what else. Well in 1998 it was discovered through x-ray that one of his hooks on his rod had came loose. The doc told him he could have surgery but couldn't grant that he would feel better, so my husband decided not to have the surgery. Now it is 2009 and he is having problems again, we are in the process of having him see a spine orthopedic surgeon to have his back checked out. please feel free to pm my husband at shawman.

  • I was reading on here about how alot of people don't think it's possible to break a titanium rod... But it happened to me. I had a spinal fusion of the thoracic area done when I was 15. I am 23 now. I was having pain before my surgery, and my left side was starting to go numb (I have scoliosis). I had the 9 hour surgery done, they went in through small incisions in my side. They inserted a titanium rod and 4 screw to hold it in place.

    After sugery, the pain was lessened dramatically. But when I was 19, I had a baby, and afterwards, my back began hurting worse. I had an XRay done, and the ER doc came back holding my results with a puzzled look. He asked me if I had one or two rods inserted. I said one. Four screws. He said, "Well, this is hard to believe, but it looks like your rod has broke". Sure enough, there it was in black and white, a clean break right through the middle. I later went to see the surgeon who performed the procedure. He said that it probably happened because of weight gain and told me to lose weight to reduce pain (I was 230 then). I lost 70 pounds and the pain is less severe, but it still hurts really bad. It definetly limits what I can do. BUT-- I heard the same thing, the rod will NEVER break. I am going in a few days to have some MRIs done and to meet with a neurosurgeon to see about helping with my pain. I saw this post because I was looking for info on whether it's dangerous or not to have an MRI with a titanium rod. Anyway I hope this helps, and yes, I saw the X Ray and it made me sick lol... I had the bone graph around it to help it heal, too... my doc said the bone should be stable and all, it had to have broken after I was 18 because I had an X ray then and it was fine.
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  • I had a decompression surgery 5 years ago - old shorter rods removed and new rods now 8 levels inserted .
    I broke a rod about 1/2 inch below a screw a month ago.
    I heard a loud POP and have had pain since.
    The break clearly shows on an x-ray and now I need a new rod and more surgery.
    I think the maker of the rod should be sued as this is a terrible surgery as well as risky. Any suggestions?
  • I recently had surgery and was told that my rods could stay in forever by my Italian-based Neurosurgeon. "we never remove them" he said. When I returned to Australia my surgeon told me that the rods can break in 10% of cases like mine and that I should have them removed after 6-9 months post-op. I had 6 posterior pedicle scews and rods from t12-L3 with no bone graft. So, yes I guess they can break but I also read that metal science is improving and this equipment is getting more reliable. I'm sure you have been back to your surgeon by now and are recovering from the repair.
    More info for the pile!
  • that after 9-10 months of my fusion that my NS will go in and remove the hardware.

    In regards to the rods breaking - the xray shows what it shows!

    Good luck!
  • I think the most important thing is to find out what is causing your pain - is it the broken rod, is it a "floating" screw, is there a non-union or failure to fuse, is it an adjacent disc that is causing the pain, etc. If I were you, I would find a surgeon experienced in revisions, that is willing to assess the cause of the pain first instead of just going in an operating becuase there is broken hardware and "lets see what we find". What if you had everything taken out, replaced, and turns out the level above was causing the pain? That would bite. Hardware failures are common, and don't often mean failure to fuse, or cause of pain; in fact I heard the opposite - if you don't fuse your hardware will break (the old hardware wasn't meant to support a spine the way a solidly fused bone would). So - ask your surgeon for a plan, once you have everything figured out get a second opinion (and maybe a third). It sounds worthwhile to get a myelogram to look for nerve root impingement, discogram to check integrity of discs above and below prior surgery and to see if they are causing pain, and some selective nerve root (where the screw is loose) blocks and facet blocks with careful diary of what gives you relief. A pain diary would also be useful. Get fixed first, then worry about "blame" if you are the "blaming" type. (I know in the consent I signed it said hardware may break, I may become paralyzed...yada yada..).and Good Luck!
  • My son had to have back surgery 2 years ago due to scoliosis, he has 2 titanium rods and 12 screws, ever since the surgery, he staggers when he walks, is this normal? Has anyone else out there ever had this kind of a problem?
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