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What percentage have hardware removed?

lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am wondering if there is any data on how many people who have fusions end up having their hardware removed? The thought had never crossed my mind until I saw that many folks here have their hardware taken out. Also, it has been so bitterly cold here that I can actually feel those rods in my back when I go outside for a walk. A most unpleasant feeling. Does anyone know how often we get a screw loose :tongue:" alt=":tongue:" height="20" /> or the rods break?

I'm thinking of retiring within the next year, which will mean hunting for and paying for my own insurance, so I need to know how likely it will be that I'll need this hardware out.

3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.


  • Hi Linda!

    Hey I'll jump in here (as you already know) I am having my hardware out, not due to any breaking, but because it keeps catching on my muscles.

    I'll add my dad in the mix too - He had his hardware put in about 10 years ago. His never troubles him and he has no plans to get it out. He is 68, very active, very strong and is the type that never feels pain - as an example - he had a total knee replacement last year with just a spinal block and didn't take any meds after the first 12 hours. He is a tough old farmer and my hero - of course.

    - he's the one who taught me how to deal with pain (from heartbreak to physical pain) - while I was growing up; you couldn't complain about anything to him, he'd just say "Hey Gert, (all us girls were Gert, all the boys - well, that's not repeatable here) I know how ya feel, but hey, it's just mind over matter (pause- waiting for me to look up at him) if you don't mind, it don't matter" - said in a long drawl with a sly grin peeking out at the end.
  • I spoke with my surgeon about hardware removal on the second anniversay of my fusion. He told me that the hardware was permanent and the only reason any or all of it would be removed is because of it failing. (i.e. it breaks, or it loosens to the point where it is causing nerve or muscle pain.)Insurance will only cover hardware removal if its a medical necessity.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
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  • I think I read somewhere that about 10% of patients with hardware eventually wind up having some/all of it removed. Maybe Gwennie can dig up some stats. She's at great at digging up research. I looked a little and couldn't come up with any.
  • Hi Jan - my NS told me that 10% figure when we discussed it several months ago. I would like some real stats though - Gwennie?
  • Glad to know I didn't imagine that Saltz - :)

    I do think I read it somewhere else too but can't remember where. Go figure.
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  • The reference librarian is IN. I will go see what I can find. My surgeon said he takes out about 2% with his patients. My other (the first) surgeon told me he had not had a screw break on any patient in ten years...that the "new" screws rarely break...I think this board must collect all the problem patients! @)

    So much of the data is fairly old. And the old data is unreliable now because there have been so many positive developments in technology within the last five years, or so.

    I'll be back IF I find something!

  • I am also interested & will await our go-to pal, Gwennie re this "hot" topic.
    My NS offered to take mine out now that I'm fused b/c it's just causing so much discomfort: muscle pain, nerve problems, etc. I can feel it & SEE it (when I bend fwd) & the lousy winter weather is making things worse. I truly think I'll never get used to it, but there is nothing wrong w/ it, so...to do or not to do, as someone said, remains the question.

    I am so wary of going thru a 4th procedure, risking another dural leak, or an infecton not to mention having all the muscles cut again, etc.

    NS said to "just learn to live with it" or have it out, but couldn't guarantee it would relieve much of my chronic stuff, as there's also DDD & stenosis in there along w/ a wrecked L4/5 nerve...

    I think, for now, I'll leave well enough alone. Exccept on a BAD day, I wonder if there's a "do it yourself" kit I could order..

    Linda, I know what you mean when you're outside in the cold. It's unpleasant, weird & just plain annoying to always feel those rods/screws etc. Like an internal ice block!

    Arrrrugh! What we go thru, huh! Bah!

  • After finding some really interesting data and spending a lot of time reading articles, but not on this topic, I got excited when I finally located a number of entries for percentage of hardware failure. Upon investigating further, it turned out all the data related to the hardware failure of an X-Box!!
    (which, by the way, is surprisingly HIGH!)

    Back to work....
  • Sometimes I feel like I'm being controlled by a video game controller! Sort of lurching around like one of those characters on the screen. Well, if it's 10% or less, and the newer stuff is less fallible, plus more chance of failure if you're young (I'm not) and thin (I'm about average), I think I'll probably be okay with mine staying where it is. It is, however, just awful out in the cold. When I take the dog for a walk, I can really feel it. I shouldn't really complain however, last weekend when I took the dog to the dog park, it was 10 degrees and there was a man there with two poodles. The man was wearing a kilt! :shocked: If it's true about what they wear (or don't) under there, I'm sure he had to be a bit chilly. Eugene has some weird people at the dog parks!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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