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Spinal Fusion with Pedicle Screws coming loose

I have now had two fusion surgeries, L3-L5.  The first one was done in 2005 and after suffering pain for an additional two years changed doctors who informed me that the fusion did not fuse and the L5 screws were loose.  My new doctor redid the first surgery, but now one year after surgery my L5 screws are loose again.  I do have a doctor appt next week, but previously was told my CT scan showed the fusion is solid.  Do you know why  the screws keep coming loose.  Are there some people who "reject" the hardware that is in their body or does it definitely mean the fusion surgery has to be redone.  I am really not looking forward to have an addition fusion surgery.  I am hoping that the hardware can just be removed if my fusion is complete.   Thank you.
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Avatar universal
I had the same surgery you did in 2007, same levels. after about 6 months I felt just fine. Not a young man, but no pain. OK so I overdid it and after months of pain and test had to undergo another fusion of the level above. L2, at that time he took out all my old hardware, "since i am there" was the answer i was told why they took it out.
It was not bothering me, but the new hardware was not compatible with the old stuff. go figure, only a couple of yrs and its already outdated.
So........if you are solidly fused, then you do not need to have the hardware in, especially if you are suffering from them.
I know plenty of people that have had them taken out from pain generation.
So trust your DR, although If you can avoid surgery then try, but if not, then trust your DR.
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Avatar universal
Thanks.  I have a doctor's appt Monday morning.  Don't want surgery but if I can get rid of this pain, I have to go for it.  Really need to get off these meds and try to have some sort of quality of life.  
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Avatar universal
So I went to see the doctor yesterday.  Surgery for removal of hardware is scheduled for August 26, wish it were sooner, but at least at this point there appears to be hope.  The doctor could actually trigger the pain by touching where the lower screws are in my back.  He could feel it, which is kind of freaky.  He is removing all hardware except for the upper flexible cage, which is doing its job at preventing further damage to the discs above my fusion.  I have no pain from those cages at all.  He said I am fused solid at all levels and he assures me the surgery is pretty simple.  Easy for him to say I guesss.  lol   I'm trying to be hopeful that this will at least alleviate most of my pain. He said the CT scan, the MRI and the bone scan showed nothing except the loose screws at the L5 level.  I am looking forward to getting rid of the hardware and hopefully getting off these meds and begin to have a little quality of life again.
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1883065 tn?1320750570
I am sorry for what you are going through. I had two back surgeries and left to travel for two yrs only to come back to Fla. to see my neurosurgeon. I am having the same problem with the screws coming loose. My doctor says the fusion did not take. So I feel you. I am going through some life altering pain and will not see him again till Dec.1,2011. Appt for another CT and Mylogram with dye, set for Nov, 25th. No pain meds. But I really can't stand the narcotics they give. They have not gone through what we are yet they won't take care of you when you are in pain. They think they are God and that back surgery is an easy fix. I pray for you and for all my brothers and sisters out there suffering. Feel free to write and keep me posted. God Bless you and yours, Iris
PS I hope I spelled that right, But I doubt it.
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Avatar universal
Hi, I had spinal fusion done L4-5 back in 2001. Just recently My MRI shows that my fusion did not hold and I have a loose screw! I have been feeling this strange bump in my lower back thinking it was a bone, tumor...and most likely irritated it more. I hope it hasn't become infected! My present doctor says I will need surgery again to fix this serious problem. My question is...Should I contact the surgeon who performed my surgery back in N.Y.? Or perhaps file a law suit against him? I am scared. Meanwhile for the past years all was okay...till Just recently where I started seeing a sports medicine doctor, orthopaedic, physical therapy, and massage, but nothing has helped. Now I know why!
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I have three surgeries and the last one they put rods in;  The screws have pulled loose from the top of the rods.  Now they are going to extend the rods up further, does that sound right.  Should I sue.
Ugh, sorry to hear about this as that must be painful and is a pain to deal with.  The thing about surgery is there is 'inherent risks'.  This means some risks and things that could happen are not necessarily preventable and are things that just COULD happen.  They have to show doctor error or malice in order to make a law suit.  Skipping steps, not following normal protocol, ignoring you when you told them something that is a classic sign they did something wrong in your post op visit. Like, the doctor has to pretty much blatantly screw up.  Have you gotten a second opinion regarding the first surgery and the proposed plan for this time around?
7721494 tn?1431627964
When Tom Jones sang "It's Not Unusual", he could have been singing about pedicles backing out after fusion surgery.

When I went to my last surgical consult, my surgeon warned about this very problem.

I would see a surgeon about the problem, and if you had otherwise good results with the previous surgeon, you might return, but it seems that he/she is now out of state?

I'd ask your PCP for a referral.

It sounds as if the fusion helped -- that's what's important. Fusion helps only 3/4 people, at best.

Your former surgeon is probably covered against any law suit because of the waivers you signed before surgery. I also imagine you were told of these potential side effects of surgery.

Whenever we consent to a medical procedure, we do so under so-called "informed risk". This means you were informed of the risks, and you decided, balancing the risks vs. the benefits, that surgery was the proper treatment option.

However, if you want to explore the legal option, by all means set an appointment with a malpractice attorney. The best can be found in major cities like NYC and LA, and hold both medical and legal doctorates. Also, there are medical experts who's entire practice is the evaluation of malpractice claims. A good one in the field of spine surgery is Dr. Donald Corenman at the Steadman Clinic of Vail Colorado. He's easy to find on the internet.

Remember to bring a copy of your medical records and copies of all consents signed before the surgical procedure.
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