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

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

1 year post op Neck Fusion Surgery question

ravenr2rravenr2 Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
hi everyone,

i am in need of advice. i had my neck fusion surgery on 11/29/10. the levels that were fused were: c5-c6 and c6-c7. my post op recovery went okay. aside from bad pain the day after surgery, i am doing okay. it is a year after my surgery, and i, what was supposed to be my last surgeon appointment, didn't go as planned. my surgeon informed me that one of the screws in my neck had broken off. prior to this visit and many x-ray's, the screw in question was in place.

i haven't done anything out of the ordinary to have the screw come loose. he said that i need to get a ct scan of my neck to find out where the screw broke off and where the piece is. i don't see where the screw broke off. it looks like it bent a little from the possible fusion of bone. upon the bone growing, it looks like it pushed the screw out a bit..if that is possible.

i am experiencing a little neck discomfort. but nothing too serious. my surgeon also informed me that the fusion is taking, but just wants to be 100% sure the fusion took. he said if the ct scan comes back with the screw piece location, he must take the piece out. in the long term, if the screw head is in my esophagus it can eventually erode and cause an infection or damage. he can't really pinpoint what the problem is and shy the screw came out that far. he asked me if i am doing anything out of the ordinary and i told him no. i am in no way blaming the surgeon for this, but i think it is the hardware. of course we all sign a waiver about a possibility of faulty hardware and things of that nature. i am fully aware of this.

if the fusion didn't take place, he said that he needs to do the same surgery again. i am not too keen on doing this again. i am hopeful it is just the screw piece that needs to be taken out.

can anyone who has had this let me know or at the very least give me advice.

i have to be honest, i am not keen on having the surgery again. i am going to get the ct scan next thursday with an x-ray for my rom (range of motion). i would appreciate any advice or if anyone had any similar experiences, to help me out.




  • It looks like its coming out, not broken. I am not medically trained though so hopefully the ct scan will give you some answers. Good luck and I hope you don't have to have any big procedure done.

    Oh and P.S.... If someone blames you for something just say you have a loose screw hahahaha.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find a few of us whom have had multiple surgeries for different reasons. As far as the hardware issue, the look above the obvious screw backing out is seen. You are correct that there can be hardware issues and wise not to really place blame on your surgeon, as it does happen. Why, it happens is anyone's guess, so don't be hard on yourself that you could have done things different. As far as having the hardware removed, it is much easier coming out than going in and recovery is pretty easy. Your surgeon is doing the right thing with the Ct scan to see if a fusion has taken place, so that is all the correct. Of course the only real way to ensure fusion is direct visual, but the Ct will give a good idea.

    Hopefully if your surgery needs to be done over they can use the anterior approach and not the posterior approach. The posterior approach is a much longer recovery and more painful to boot. Given that it is a anterior hardware issue, I would assume they have to enter that way as well to get to the hardware. The hardware has to be taken out the way it was put in.

    If I were in your shoes, I would make to trains of thoughts. One as if the screw just broke and they need to remove it. The other the worst being they need to do redo the surgery all over again. I would design specific questions for both scenarios. When you see the surgeon again you are prepared for whatever the results are. Also keep in mind you don't have to make a decision right on the spot. If the surgery needs to be done over again, I would recommend getting a independent medical consult on the surgery that would need to be done, and what your risk would be if you want to wait. I say what your risk are as you say your not in that much pain at the moment. I know from personal experience how hard it is to go back in surgery, when all you want to do is put this behind you and move forward. But I have also learned that sometimes things don't work out quit like I want them to, no matter how hard I tried.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If I can be of any assistance don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted on how your appointment with the results from the CT.
  • advertisement
  • Hi and thank you for the warm welcome :). I really appreciate the responses. Donnabe: my husband said that same thing about the having a screw loose if someone asks hehe. And for tamtam, thank you very much for the insight. I agree. I am trying to put all of this behind me, but life takes us all in different directions. I am pain today because of the cold weather here in the east coast. But my level for pain tolerance is high. Even if I am in severe pain, I deal with it. My level of pain today is not that great, but I am okay.

    I see my surgeon again on the 21st of this month to see. Also this surgery is a result of a hit and run. I was a pedestrian and the car left the scene. I am lucky to be alive to say the least. I am all of 5'4 but have broad shoulders. And this is the worst of injury I sustained. So I am going through a lot right now. I am soo happy I joined this forum. Before my surgery, I was reading people's experiences and now I have one of my own. All I can do right now is go with what is best for me. I will update on how my CT scan went and what the final verdict is.

    I again thank you both for the insight. Emotionally and physically is mind numbing sometimes and hard. But I always like to look at these athletes who had the same surgery more than once, and see how they live. Some can't do the sport anymore, while others persevere. I am trying to look at this as not a bad thing though. I am thankful this was caught now rather then later on. They also did an autograft and took bone from my own hip for the I am dealing with that pain too.. I don't look at my life as terrible now, just unique hehe.

    Thank you all once again and I am thankful for all the help.
  • I had a C5-6 fusion in 1992 by a doc in FW. A year later, the pain started in just like the year before. I went to a doc in Dallas and he said the one in FW used an old method and the fusion was coming out. I had it redone exactly one year later to date.
    I don't have any metal in me.
    I would get a second and third opinion. Although I have severe pain from C6-7 and C4-5, the fusion is fine.
    I agree, it just looks like the screw is loose and not totally out.
  • Well I went to get the CT scan. I also have the images on a cd for my surgeon to look at. The report says that the "right anterior approach screw at C7 is partially withdrawn by approx 7mm. Fusion cages at C5-C-6 and C6-C7 with solid bone fusion". Thursday I go to my surgeon to discuss the CT scan and what he can do.

    The CT images of the screw does show it coming out and going a little to the left. This explains the pressure and pain I have been having on my left side of my neck.

    Soo..I will post Thursday afternoon what the surgeon tells me and I will go from there. I really just want this fixed.

    If the surgeon needs to take the screw out or take the entire hardware out, what would the recovery time be. If anyone knows, that would be great. I know the recovery time is different for everyone.

    I'm trying to get an approximate on the recovery time for this.I know the surgeon would be able to tell me an approximate time frame. I am loosing sleep over this. I know it is nearly not as bad as other people who had complications.

  • advertisement
  • The best thing that can come out of this is if you are already fused then hardware can come out already anyways, And your fusion has taken place you say in 2010 so had plenty of time to fuse, Hopefuly CT will show that,

    And now that 1 screw is backed out already should be easier to remove,
    Screws were probably made in china, They would of been beter off using drywall screws from menards made in the good old USA!

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks for the info. Yes I am fully fused the CT scan report confirms. I have developed pain in my left side of my neck again. I didn't experience any of this before the screw ever so slowly withdrew. So all in, this is a good thing it sounds like.

    It seems that the median recovery time from what I was reading is about 3-8 weeks. It also depends on the individual.

    What happens if my surgeon removes that hardware? Does he or will he need to do anything else to the area? Removal is still not confirmed yet, but it looks like he will be doing it. Sorry for the dumb questions, I just don't know any of this.

    I am eagerly awaiting this visit Thursday.

    The reason I asked how long the recovery is, it that I have 2 interviews. One tomorrow afternoon and one thursday morning. The one thursday, ironically, is for a neurosurgeon.

    I laughed when I you said about the hardware hehe. I have been a basket case since I found out my screw is withdrawing. I know that most of you are going through a lot more than I or have had this happen before. So if i repeat myself, I'm sorry in advance hehe.


  • Hey All,

    Thank you all for the help :). I just wanted to post that I went to my surgeon today. He confirmed that I need the titanium plate and screws taken out. All of my hardware is going to be removed :). My surgeon said that I am fused and the hardware is serving no purpose now. Plus I don't really have a choice because the screw is backing out at confirmed 7mm. He said this will cause problems if it is not removed. Sooo...Im doing it :).

    This can cause me huge problems if he doesn't take care of it. Soo.. I am having the surgery the week after next (easter week). He said that there is no recovery time. Of course the first few days after removal is going to be a bit tough and I may be in a bit of pain. But I will finally be pain free once again after hardware removal:). I can continue to live the way I have been with no restrictions :).

    I am scared, yes, but I am glad to have this taken out. My surgeon says this rarely happens to his patients. He is going to inspect the hardware upon removal for any faults and such. I assured my surgeon that it isn't his fault, it is the hardware. I am glad to say that all the pain I am in will finally be gone :). General anesthesia is going to be used and the entire surgery is gonna take no more than a half an hour. I mean I underwent the fusion surgery, so this should be cake..relatively.

    He said He is gonna make an incision where the last one was made in the from of my neck, move my vocal cords and take the hardware out. Soo I'll have a little issue swallowing big deal lol. No biggie. I will go to the same out patient clinic that I went to when I had the fusion surgery performed. My surgeon will perform the surgery.

    All in all a great visit today and I am happy :).


  • Okay it all set up! I am getting my hardware officially removed tomorrow!! I am nervous, but I will be fine. I went through the first surgery a basket case. For this one, I am not nearly as bad. The entire procedure will be 30 min my neuro said. Then I can go home and rest.

    I have to be honest, I cant wait to get this done and be pain free or feel like I can't swallow.

    I will post how I am doing either friday or the weekend.

    Wish me luck :)

  • Just wanted to wish you much luck tomorrow! I hope the hardware removal will eliminate the pain. Please let us know how you are doing after surgery! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
Sign In or Join Us to comment.