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Thread: Removal of Harrington Rods

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Salt Lake City, Utah USA

    Removal of Harrington Rods

    The pain specialist doctors cannot find the source of my son's constant pain. They say that the CAT Scan's and MRIs from the time of the accident do not show any problems that would cause his pain. I am becoming convinced that removal of the rods could help. Several people in this forum mentioned that this might help. The surgeon who placed the rods in my son's back says that the surgery would be much worse than his constant pain. I would like to hear about other forum's member's experience (recovery time, elimination of pain, etc.)with rod removal. Also please recommend surgeons. The three doctors I have spoken to in the Salt Lake City area have not performed this surgery. Thanks for your help and advise

  2. #2

    Rod removal

    Rod removal has helped some people, primarily those with back pain. It is less likely to have any effect on neuropathic pain that is the burning, electric or shooting neuropathic pain that effects more the perineum, genitals, trunk and limbs.

    It is a difficult and sometimes long surgery often as often overgrown bone must be removed along with the rods. (KLD)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Boca Raton, Florida, USA

    Rod removal

    I've got Harrington type rods, though titanium, not metal. I guess I'm not sure what "pain" is. I am in pain, but I've learned to ignore rather than take medication for it because the medication makes me sleepy, irritable, and messes up my life.

    Will insurance cover a surgery like this? My understanding is that Dr. Kao removes rods as well as doing the peripheral nerve graft. Consider the fact that eventually, he may want to have a surgery to reconstruct his spinal cord. Nobody's gonna cut back back open till they can fix my spinal cord in a major way.

    Eric Texley

  4. #4

    Rod removal

    My daughter had her titanium Harrington rods removed on May 24th. She was two years post injury, and had constant, deep pain in her lower back. She was also constantly nauseated, making it difficult to eat. The neurosurgeon who put the rods in was the one who took them out. The operation was roughly 4 hours long; her recovery time was a good six weeks [lots of sore muscles, of course!] but...the nausea was gone the minute she woke up, and now she feels confident in saying that the deep spinal pain she had before is gone. It wasn't a picnic by any means; it is a painful recovery, but she is so glad she had this done. She feels so much better. We're in Michigan, so the doctor's name wouldn't help much; although he did just relocate to Arizona! Still, Salt Lake is quite a drive. If you need any more information, please let me know--Vicky

  5. #5
    In 1980, I had stainless steel Harrington Rods fused in, following a spinal decompression and laminectomy. I was a complete paraplegic at the time (auto accident).

    I have been extremely lucky and have had minimal pain since then, other than pain in the right hip especially during weather changes.

    I just found out that I have broken one of the rods, and have a fracture in one of the vertebra due to a recent fall. I am not in any pain due to either of these at this time.

    At the time of my injury I was a full paraplegic; now I'm an incomplete paraplegic. As Eric so aptly said, I'm not letting anyone go back into my back unless absolutely necessary.

    I'd like to find out more about any risks to leaving the broken rod in, vs having it removed. What questions should I be asking the orthopaedist? Neurologist?


    PS - Thanks to KLD for referring me to this forum

  6. #6

    Harrington Rods

    i HAD THE SURGERY IN 1990, TO HAVE THE RODS PUT IN MY back. I have had little pain until recently. I now have shooting pains throughout my left arm and my pinke finger is numb. I have shhoting pains in my chest and a burning sensation often. I went to the doctor and had e-xays done, the disc in my back were buldging and compression on the nerves.. All this was due to the surgery. The flat back and the stiffness was said to cause this.. Anyone else had these types of symptoms or experiences??

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Batavia, IL USA

    Take them out put them in repair them because a rod broke

    I was injured in August 1996 with a T-7/8 complete SCI.
    They fused the spine and put Harrington rods in. They were taken out a year later because it was thought to be the source of pain. They were not.
    I was okay until 2006 when I had a severe increase in pain level. A Myelogram showed a Charcot joint and a severe stenosis of the spine.
    I went in and had rods put in from T-2 through the pelvis. a cage was built where the 4 vertebrae were worn down. In 10 months I noticed I was leaning to one side and not sitting very tall again. I had a broken rod. I just finished getting surgery to fix the broken rod. I now have T-2 through the pelvis 2 rods and 2 more rods from T-6 through T-12 I think. Any way this has been a real pain. Oh by the way the pain has never gone away from any of this rods out rods in.
    How common is it to break titanium rods. I had this done at Northwestern in Chicago.

  8. #8
    If you have rods in your lower or mid back you shouldn't be having any problems in your hands. Those nerve come from the cervical area. It sounds like your problem is higher up in your spine.


  9. #9
    My son had his right rod/screws and cross bars removed 8 months post injury. He had a nerve block procedure first and one of the screws was touching a nerve. He still has the left rod/screws. The pain management doctor did the procedure and made the diagnosis consulting with his surgeon. His surgeon did the 4 hour surgery and it did take him about 6 weeks to recover. It wasn't that bad but a lot more recovery than we thought it would be. He was taking 2400 Gabapentin daily and now takes pain med...just a little nerve pain every now and then but nothing like what he was having before.

  10. #10

    Rod Removal??

    I had 2 Harrington rods fused to my spine with bone grafting from hip in 1992. I have lived with discomfort over the years and just "being aware" or feeling that the rods were there. For over a year and a half I have had more discomfort, especially at night. It feels like I have a hard lump, possibly a very tight muscle to the right of my spine (lat?). And also aches to the left of my right wing (deltoid or Longissimus?). I did break my right collarbone along with 2 vertebrae (T10 and T8?) in a car accident. I have also experienced discomfort on the front bottom rib cage...which were also all broken in the crash, but that has subsided.

    One orthopedic surgeon said he felt it was a nerve radiating aound from my back to the front rib cage. He also suggested having the rods removed because they had "served their purpose." 15 years with them has been a long time and I am so confused about what to do. I'm worried about the risks and pain worsening. Can leaving them in be doing harm, limiting my muscles, causing arthritis? Also, how do they remove the rods when they are covered by bone??? Please somone help me!!!

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