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Medical hardware removal...?

jessmarimba2012-02-23 06:23:00 +0000 #1
Worth it? Not? What are your stories? Opinions of health-care professionals on here?

I know one of the screws in my back is slightly bent, but I doubt it has anything to do with the day-to-day back pain. My doctor gave me the option to have the hardware removed at any time I want. But I don't know if it's really worth having surgery again...And I worry that a doctor who stands to profit from cutting me open isn't going to give me a straight answer on whether the surgery is worth it.

(Fortunately the muscles over the screws have grown enough that I no longer get searched every time I go through an image scanner at the airport, or I'd have them out in a heartbeat

Kiwi Stoker2012-02-23 06:31:39 +0000 #2
I was told to only have the plates and screws in my arm removed because of the following-

Something has moved and is causing real issues with pain and/or movement

Your religion/beliefs doesn't allow you have to foreign objects in your body when you die

The doctor said the risks of infection and of course then having a weak bone while the holes heal over is just no worth it. The airport security people told me that only really large metal implants like hip or knee replacements cause the alarm to go off.

So my metalware is here to stay. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
ny biker2012-02-23 07:02:51 +0000 #3
I had a screw in my heelbone after ankle surgery years ago. I had it removed 6 months after it was put in, because it made the back of my heel unbearably sensitive -- one day I accidently hit the leg of a chair with it, and I literally saw stars like when a character in a Bugs Bunny cartoon gets hit on the head.

I was also having problems with scar tissue in my ankle, and the surgeon addressed that in the second surgery.

I haven't had any problems as a result of having the screw removed. They told me the hole would just fill in.
margo492012-02-23 07:10:10 +0000 #4
I have 2 plates and 12 screws in one arm that set off alarms. But I am leaving them there - no pain, no worries. They are not doing anything positive now as they have been there since 2003 but they are part of me.

What religions????, btw ...
jessmarimba2012-02-23 07:32:46 +0000 #5
One vote each way! Thanks to both of you

I know in the end it's my decision to make, but I wish it was easier to do internet research. Most people who post on the web about back pain are somewhat hysterical.

I know that the screws tweak nerves on occasion, and not usually in a way that I can replicate. They can test to see if removal will help this by injecting lidocaine around the screws to see if that eases pain. So there's a preliminary option.

The other thing that slightly bothers me is just that I can feel them all the time. Not painfully, necessarily, but I won't sit in wooden or plastic-backed chairs any more. I can't "roll through" my back (like, say, Rolling Like a Ball in pilates). Just imagine leaning against a chair with a small pebble on either side of your spine at your bra line and two more about 3ish inches lower. Worth surgery? Probably not. But years of this?? Hard to project whether it's worth it.

Too bad the spine isn't an area to gain fat first if I just overdosed on the Christmas cookies!

(Oh, and Kiwi - they don't set off metal detectors for me, but they're close enough to the skin that they occasionally show up as a "problem" with the x-ray scanners...and since I'm at close to 80 flights for this year, it's annoying

Kiwi Stoker2012-02-23 07:51:30 +0000 #6
It was a specialist I saw in Singapore which has lots of different religions. Maybe Musilm?

Oh and one other thing (and this is mainly because my plates are on my upper arm) but I have one 20cm scar and another 10cm (repairing tendons). I don't want another scar. Apparently they don't like to open up existing scars.
solobiker2012-02-23 08:56:38 +0000 #7
I would not do it myself. I work in healthcare and have seen way too many infections with removal of hardware. To me it is just not worth the risk...Just my opinion.
emily_in_nc2012-02-23 07:47:17 +0000 #8
I've still got a plate and four screws from my pelvic fracture repair in 2005, and have no plans to have them removed. They don't cause me any issues, and my surgeon said it would be safer to leave it in unless it caused me pain down the road (which he didn't think it would, and he is right). They also don't set off metal detectors in airports.

But Jess, in your case, I might consider having the screws removed. I enjoy doing yoga and Pilates, and it would bug me to no end not to be able to do plows, rolling like a ball, etc. Those are some of my favorite stretches. And not to be able to sit comfortably in all types of chairs. I don't know your age, but I would seriously consider whether I wanted to have that worry for the rest of my life.

Obviously there are risks with any surgery, but if my hardware was bugging me for any reason, and insurance would cover the removal, I'd have it removed, I think.



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