When correcting an issue in your spine, it is imperative that everything heals in precisely the correct location so that the spine remains stable. In order to ensure that structures heal where they should, artificial hardware is often inserted. But once healing has run its course, will this hardware be removed by a secondary operation, or will those rods, screws and plates remain in your body for the rest of your life? We explore some of the factors that determine whether or not your spinal hardware will be removed in today’s blog.
Will A Surgeon Remove My Spinal Hardware?
Removing your spinal hardware or any surgical hardware in general after a procedure is less common in today’s world for a few reasons. For starters, hardware is getting more durable, procedures are getting smaller and we’re improving techniques to ensure that hardware doesn’t cause problems once healing has run its course. Surgical hardware is also shrinking, so smaller screws and rods are less likely to disturb nearby tissue and require a removal procedure.
Another big reason why hardware removal surgery isn’t all that common is because it’s a delicate and complex procedure. In the orthopedic surgery world, oftentimes the risks of removing the hardware do not outweigh the benefits of having the objects removed. Hardware can break, tissues can be damaged or the stability of the fixed structure can shift during hardware removal, so oftentimes a surgeon will recommend keeping the hardware in place instead of performing a procedure where the potential risks significantly outweigh the potential benefits.
That being said, there are absolutely times when a secondary surgery to remove your spinal hardware will be performed. Sometimes these operations are planned even before your initial surgery, and other times the need for a secondary surgery arises unexpectedly at some point in your recovery. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why a spine surgeon may opt to remove your spinal hardware:
- Hardware shifts or loosens
- An infection develops
- You have an allergic reaction to a component of the hardware
- Significant pain or discomfort
- Hardware breaks
A surgeon will do their part to control what they can to prevent the above issues from becoming a problem. For example, they’ll precisely insert the hardware and ensure its secure location prior to completing the operation, they’ll work hard to disinfect the area and check to ensure you’re not allergic to any components prior to the procedure, and they’ll talk with you about appropriate rehab guidelines so that you don’t overstress the area and damage the hardware during recovery. Not every aspect is controllable, but by being aware of potential pitfalls, we can help greatly reduce your risk of needing a secondary surgery to remove hardware.
For more information about spinal surgery hardware, or to talk a specialist about your back pain in general, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.