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There are several reasons why your surgeon may recommend removal of your spinal hardware:

  • Failed fusion
  • Infection
  • Pain from misplaced or broken hardware

What happens during removal of spinal hardware?

This procedure is done under general anaesthetic. It may take 1-3 hours depending on your own condition.

Your surgeon will normally re-open your original incision. They will remove any scar tissue that has grown over the hardware. If your spine has fused correctly they will remove the hardware. If your fusion has not been successful they may put new hardware in its place.

After removal of spinal hardware

Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the recovery area. Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff. When you are stable a nurse will take you to your room.

Once you are back in your room, our nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well. After you’ve recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink. Be sure and tell us if you are in any pain.

You may have a catheter to drain your bladder. This will usually be taken out the day after your surgery.

A physiotherapist visit you to ensure you can move around on your own. Your movements will be restricted. This will mean no twisting or bending. Do not lift anything heavy or drive until released by your surgeon to do so.

To prevent blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) you may need to wear compression stockings.

Going home after removal of spinal hardware

Your length of stay in hospital will depend on the extent of your surgery. Be sure and arrange for someone to drive you home. 
Take any pain relief medication as prescribed. Icing your incision may help decrease any pain. Be sure and wrap ice pack in a towel before applying to your skin.

Continue to adhere to any activity restrictions and stop any activity that increases your pain. Avoid sitting for long periods.

Your stitches or staples will be removed by your GP or practice nurse 10-14 days after surgery.
Most people make a good recovery from removal of spinal hardware. As with any procedure there can be complications:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
  • Reaction to anaesthetic

Specific complications may include:

  • Continued back pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Increase wear and tear in another part of your spine.
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