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Lumbar Fushion L5 S 1, anterior ALF now pedicle screw broken

Started by Dani on 02/21/2017 4:25pm

My fushion was done five years ago. I was home and doing great on day 3. No pain meds needed. About 16 months ago, I had excruciating pain in my lower right groin, my right hip and my lower back. I drove to the local ER. They did a minimal exam ..so to my own MD who started ordering x-rays and tests. I made appts with specialist and each one and then the new ordered test took at least 2.5 months per MD. It took over a year to see that 2 titanium screws are broke. My insurance HMO first sent me to a neurologist who spent about ten minutes with me, telling me I had scoliosis.. As he started toi leave the exam room, I asked, what about the broken screws? Should they be removed? He had the door opened to leave and said-he would not recommend removing them , I asked why, he said, I could bleed to death. Then I saw the orthopedic surgeon (not the one who did the surgery-as he is not under my insurance now) Dr 2 spent about 5 minutes with me, starting on the scoliosis and said, it was not bad enough to worry about. Mind you, my big concern was broken screws and the pain. I had to beg thus office to copy my lumbar scans since his computer would not work with the Imagining company software-so that was 2 doc's that I had no confidence in. I am from a family of doctors. I got my insurance to let me see a 3rd MD for a consult. This one is supposed to be one of the top ortho surgeons. His office does not schedule appts until 7 months out. In the meantime, I asked his assistant if he would review my files and images. I took in all images on one disc and about 5 one page documents,. He sent an email a month later with back exercises and said at this time he did not think surgery was recommended. That's all. I have been waiting to see him,. I just got a cancellation email from the office reiterating the repeated prior letter-and he cancelled my late summer appt.

The comment that if I had surgery I may bleed to death, was not among the long list of possibilities a doctor usually gives, buyt this is the ONLY comment I received.
It seems too many docs are happy to dispense pain meds or refer one to pain management. I would feel comfortable knowing what questions an orthopedic surgeon would be asking if it was them in my spot.,

This is what I need., I need good questions that I can ask him. I am worn out by the past 18 months of pain, endless appointments.

Since I have scoliosis and ostopenia, I do not know if this plays into the questions I should ask. I am only 5 feet tall and 110 pounds.

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1 Response


Hi, Dani--We see your post is several months old, but we would like to share some resources with you that we hope will help. We are so sorry to read about the back and forth with doctors you've had. We understand how frustrating it is when you can't find the answers you need.

First, you mentioned a problem with your spinal instrumentation. This article provides some good information about the thought process behind keeping the broken instrumentation in versus having another surgery: ( Spinal Fusion Instrumentation Removal: Pros and Cons )

You also asked for some good questions to ask your doctors, and we have some resources that might fit the bill:
( Questions You Should Ask About Pain and Pain Treatment )
( Spine Surgery: Questions to Ask Your Doctor )
( Questions to Ask Your Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon )
( Common Questions about Scoliosis Surgery )

We hope these resources are helpful to you, Dani. Please keep us posted on how you're doing, and if you find out any new information.