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Removal of Spinal Hardware

What is a Removal of Spinal Fusion Hardware?

This surgery removes the pedicle screws and rods from a prior fusion surgery. Typically all metal components are removed if possible.  

Why is a Removal of Spinal Fusion Hardware surgery done?

Here are some reasons why this surgery is done:

  1. Continued spine pain after the bone fusion is complete
  2. Loosened pedicle screws
  3. Broken pedicle screws or rods

How is a Removal of Spinal Hardware surgery done?

1. An intravenous catheter is started and antibiotics are given.

2. This surgery is done in an Operating Room

3. The patient is placed on the back (supine) and a General Anesthetic given.

4. The patient is carefully placed on the stomach (prone)

5. The skin of the low back is cleaned with a surgical antiseptic solution

6. Sterile sheets (drapes) are placed around the site of the surgery

7. The metal hardware is found with an X-Ray machine.

8. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) over the area where the hardware is located.

9. The tissue and muscles are released and moved to the side to see the hardware.

10. The hardware is removed with specialized tools.

11. If the hardware was loose or broken, the next step depends on whether a fusion has formed. If the fusion is solid, the hardware is no longer needed. If the fusion is not solid, new hardware may have to be placed.

12. The fascia, tissue, and skin are closed.

13. A bandage (dressing) is placed.

What is the recovery from a Removal of Spinal Hardware surgery like?

Here are some of the steps of the recovery process:

  1. The patient is sometimes admitted to the hospital for at least an overnight stay.
  2. After discharge from the hospital, specific instructions on activity are given. Lifting, bending, and twisting are often limited.
  3. The cuts (incisions) often take 4-6 weeks to heal depending on the type of Lumbar Fusion surgery.
  4. The surgeon will usually reevaluate the patient within several weeks.

How long does a Removal of Spinal Hardware surgery take?

This surgery can take 1-2 or more hours to complete. This depends on the levels of spine fused, and any technical issues the surgeon encounters.

What are the potential benefits from a Removal of Spinal Hardware?

This depends on the reason for the surgery. Here are some potential benefits:

  1. Improved low back pain
  2. Improved spine stability if the hardware was loose or broken and new hardware was placed.