When Scoliosis Surgery Fails

Some people need surgery for their scoliosis. However, it should always be a last resort. This blogpost does not attempt to dissuade someone from a recommended scoliosis surgery, assuming that your provider has performed a thorough examination of your spine and you have consulted with trusted individuals upon making your decision.

As a scoliosis sufferer and as someone who has dedicated his life to helping people avoid surgery because of the risks of surgery AND as someone who now helps to correct for structural imbalances in the spine for over 20 years, Dr. Pietrek (I) have some viewpoints that I feel are worth sharing.

The fact is, hooks, screws and rods can break. Not only are they subjected to mechanical stress since you still need to walk, turn, bend, lift, lunch, reach, squat and more - but also because these even titanium and stainless steal are susceptible to corrosion.

In a past post, I've said that the spine is not a column. It is a tension-based suspensory structure that dissipates tension in one area throughout the whole spine. A person's ability to have the progression of their scoliotic curves either stop or reverse is directly related to how resilient their spinal structure (bones, ligaments and supportive framework) is. Resilience has two meanings: 1) the ability to overcome adversity; and 2) the ability to come back to/toward normal after being bent, stretched or compressed.

Bending, stretching and compressing are the exact phases idiopathic scoliosis sufferers go through, based on my 20 years of chiropractic clinical experience. A primary curve develops (usually on the right side of the midback OR on the left side of the lower back), then a secondary curve and possibly tertiary curve, then the head "tries" to come back over center so you can walk straight at the expense of rotational compression occurring most significantly at the apex of each of the curves.

Since the spine is a suspensory structure with the inherent capacity of moving tension that develops in one area and dissipating it throughout the whole structure, it's important to remember that when it "goes out", it unravels. It doesn't topple over and it doesn't allow for horizontal "sliding", as observed in playing Jenga. Anything that unravels unravels from one of the ends. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that when Harrington Rod surgery fails, the break usually occurs in one of the far ends - at the top or the bottom.

Harrington Rods can break completely in two or break loose from their wires. 2/3 of rods that break and get removed are found to be corroded.

The metals can have a toxic effect on the body. Even if the patient doesn't have a toxic reaction right away, they can develop a reaction over time because a person's body chemistry can change over time, and the chemistry of metals - when subject to a wet environment such as a human body for years and years - can change too. In cases of late operative site pain, it's been found that metallic particles are the source of the inflammation at these sites.

Even though cases involving implant-related metal sensitivity are rare, this may be due to the difficulty of diagnosing the problem. The particles don't easily show on X-ray and since pain is subjective, it is very difficult to provide an objective diagnosis for its source. Click here for more information https://sinicropispine.com/can-allergic-spine-hardware/

Just as body and hardware chemistry changes, when rods break they are difficult to remove because the body often forms new bone around the implanted hardware. Therefore, when broken rods are removed, they're often only partially removed and one or more hooks can be left behind.

In a paper by Dr. T.S. Renshaw, speaking of adult idiopathic scoliosis surgery, he said "One would expect that if the patient lives long enough, rod breakage will be a virtual certainty."

Here are some links to help forums where recipients and family members recipients of Harrrington Rod surgery have voiced their opinions: http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-210.html http://ehealthforum.com/health/topic10952.html#ixzz1x8lgiY42

In 20 years of chiropractic experience, I find that the most common place for the spine to unravel from is the top. The atlas vertebra and where the skull attaches to the atlas represents the most mobile section of the spine by far. Unlike the lower back and midback, there are no interconnecting bony locking mechanisms. This is what allows for the greater mobility. However, with extra mobility there's less stability.


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