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  1. #1
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    Re-Construction Hardware...Stays or goes?

    Was searching for opinions from those of you with metal embedded in your bod from severe accidents, broken bones, etc....saw a few in this post HERE. I'm particularly interested in opinions from those of you with spinal injuries, but would like hearing all opinions from those who've had hardware removed or not....or updates from those of you in the initial thread - now that more time has passed.

    Have you left the hardware in or out? How was the recovery from the removal surgery compared to the initial surgery? Has removal or not made a significant difference in your range of motion or baseline level of pain and discomfort that is now "normal" for you? Do you notice it while riding or exercising? Those from the first thread, would you still do it the same???

    I'm recovering from a DJ'ing accident in April that left me with a severe burst fracture of T3, and moderate to severe trauma of my spinal cord at the fracture site and also at C5 (due to bony growth pinching / protruding against the spinal cord, from a decade old surfing injury). I was paralyzed from the shoulders down both at the crash site and again during my initial spinal surgery while on the table - but should recovery fully by the end of the year or so, and am not paralyzed in any way presently.

    I am "fused" permanately at C5-C6 by bone graft, screws and Ti plate, and by a continuous Ti rod from T1-T5 that is wired with braided SS wire, not screwed to my spine, and no bone grafting. The repair on T1-T5 I have the option to remove the hardware or not, and am what I'm really concerned about. BTW - I'm not exactly a "young buck" at 46, but fortunately was in extremely good shape at the time of the accident which has greatly helped my recovery.

    Thanks in advance for the opinions......
    "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller

  2. #2
    Three sheets to the wind
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    I still have the hardware in my leg from May of 2004 (see avatar), primarily by choice, I'm being stalked by my surgeon but I keep begging off because the weather is too nice or I've got something going on and don't want to be laid up for a few weeks. That little procedure will also bring me much closer to the soft tissue surgery which is the planned next step. I admit, it's uncomfortable having it in.
    The hardware in my shoulder is like love...it's forever, but it only bothers me during significant barometric changes...no biggie.
    I just declined to having the UCL re-attached in my thumb which I broke this past May, I didn't want to be laid up the rest of the summer and fall. It is a little tender, but it still works pretty well.
    Best of luck with your back work...ooouuch!

  3. #3
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    I guess it boils down to whether the gain in range of motion is worth the risk of surgery. I doubt anyone here can answer that. It's your's and your doctor's call.

    I've got C4-C5 and C6-C7-T1 fusions, and I'm leaving the hardware in because removing it won't improve my neck's range of motion.

    Good luck whatever you choose.

  4. #4
    Team Chilidog!
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    Personally: the screws are permanent part of my wrist. The external fixator goes away in another 5-7 weeks.

    My mom, who had back surgery, has several bits of titanium that are a permanent part of three vertabrae.
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  5. #5
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    I have a plate and a bunch of screws. I need to talk with my doctor as I get closer to being able to ride again and see what he says. He mentioned that some people opt to have their hardware removed and some don't. I think I'll probably leave mine in unless it's causing me some kind of major discomfort. I don't really want to go through another surgery if it's not necessary.
    :wq

  6. #6
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    When I shattered my ankle I had surgery to put in four screws......two of the screws stayed in and the other two were removed in a second surgery. My doctor explained why it this way: If I was elderly (say 60 years old and over) the risk of surgery is too great so all four would have stayed in although it would have impaired mobility in my ankle.

    But because I was 37 years old, an active outdoorsperson (I wanted to hike and ride my bike again, etc.) two of the screws would have affected my ability to do these things again so they were removed in a second surgery....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by osmarandsara
    When I shattered my ankle I had surgery to put in four screws......two of the screws stayed in and the other two were removed in a second surgery. My doctor explained why it this way: If I was elderly (say 60 years old and over) the risk of surgery is too great so all four would have stayed in although it would have impaired mobility in my ankle.

    But because I was 37 years old, an active outdoorsperson (I wanted to hike and ride my bike again, etc.) two of the screws would have affected my ability to do these things again so they were removed in a second surgery....
    Where were your screws at? I have four in my tibia (two towards the bottom) and seven in my fibula holding in the plate. My doctor hasn't indicated that these will cause me any mobility or functional issues but I also haven't asked the question directly.
    :wq

  8. #8
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    Unfortunately I also posted in the thread the OP linked to. Then it was my collar bone, which is coming along fine after I broke it twice last summer. That hardware stays. Also unfortunately, I broke my left ankle this spring when I slipped down the basement stairs wearing my biking cleats. It was a pretty bad break, with a displacement (pointing the wrong way), so it needed surgical repair. In the pic I posted you can see all of the small screws, the plate, and two long screws that pass thru both bones. According to my Surgeon, those large screws will break over time by design, but can then sometimes give grief in some people. You can well imagine the raw edges of the broken screws rubbing bone or soft tissue as your ankle moves around. His advice was to have those screws taken out after sufficient healing had taken place, usually about three months post surgery. They were used to re-align the joint because of the dislocation. That may have been the same situation osmarandsara had when his(?) screws were taken out. Mine come out September 5th.
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  9. #9
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    Ankle Hardware

    Hey BrokenBones those are the exact same screws (the two large ones passing through both bones) that I had removed......

    nachomc: I'm not a doctor, but looks like all your hardware is gonna stay in, I saw your x-rays in your previous post......you notice all the hardware is pretty much all inside (solid) bones?

    In my case (and BrokenBones') the two big screws passed from one bone to the other with empty tissue in between (see his x-ray)

    In my case, I actually had my cast off for about 3 weeks before they removed the two big screws that connected the tib to the fib.....before the surgery I actually tried to move my ankle in circles but I felt like something was "blocking" the motion....

    nachomc also has two big screws on the lower part of the tibia, but they look like they are all entirely inside the bone except the one that passes into the tibia, but those two bones are connected there anyway with ligaments.......so I bet you get to keep all your hardware!

    On another note, I did a 26.4 mile Mt. Bike Ride today (50% single track) my longest ride since my accident using shimano SPDs set REALLY LOOSE......its been 14 months since my accident and the ankle feels AWESOME....don't even think about it much anymore

  10. #10
    Slightly askew
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    Radius and ulna

    I have plates and screws in my arm and have left them in for nearly 10 years.( Jump ramps+ speed wobbles) I was told that the ends where the plates are removed could become weak( stress riser?) Plus it ment being cut up again and more $$$. Just dont like the cold winter mornings, fells like a bad toothache.
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