Removal of rods used to correct spinal curvatures - scoliosis and kyphosis
This information sheet is for patients who have had surgical correction of spinal curvature, to give them details about the commonly employed rods and hooks which are used, and of their later removal. Together, the rods and hooks are sometimes called spinal instrumentation. They are made from high-grade surgical stainless steel and are essentially inert, and therefore no known deleterious effects occur when they are left attached to the spine even throughout life. In certain circumstances, rods made from titanium (which enables later special investigative scan techniques) may be used. Titanium is biologically inert.
Until the mid-to-late 1980s, nearly all spinal curvatures were corrected with the Harrington instrumentation, or by modifications of this technique. Since then, the instrumentation designed by two French surgeons, Yves Cotrel and Jean Dubousset, has been widely used in Australia and has largely superseded the Harrington instrumentation. It is commonly known as CD instrumentation. There are now many differently named systems but they entail the same mechanical principles as the CD technique.
There is another rod system often used to correct curvature in young children when this is necessary, as it sometimes is. It is called the Luque instrumentation and here the rods are attached to the spine in the corrected position by wires, not hooks and/or screws as they are in the CD and similar methods. The Luque method is also often used for the correction of curvature due to nerve and muscle disorders such as muscular dystrophy.
It should be kept in mind that spinal instrumentation used to correct curvature plays only a temporary role, and it is the healing of the spinal fusion which is the central issue. If a fusion does not heal, then eventually the rods will break because of micro-movement involved in day-to-day activities. This was much more common with Harrington instrumentation than with the Cotrel-Dubousset method.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are the most common questions asked by patients in relation to removal of the rods.
Is there an absolute indication to remove the rods?
What is the
indication to remove the instrumentation?
Is a broken rod an indication to remove the rod?
Very occasionally, even after a successful outcome and a solid fusion, patients request the rods be removed because they do not wish to have the implants in their bodies. Surgeons accept this attitude.
my rods set off a security alarm system in an airport?
Is removal of the rods a big operation?
In days past, interrupted sutures, which left stitch marks, were often used to close surgical wounds. These days, a continuous stitch is placed beneath the skin. The suture material is gradually absorbed and there are no stitches to remove. Hence, no stitch marks remain.
Will I require a catheter
in my bladder following removal of the rod?
Will I have to wear a brace
or plaster cast after the rods have been removed?
How soon after the rod’s removal will I be able
to return to all my activities?
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