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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 11946
Experience:  U.S. Physician/Surgeon in Neurosurgery
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spine fusion done, L5 & S1, less than 15 months..Bone..vertebrae

Resolved Question:

I had spine fusion done, L5 & S1, less than 15 months ago. Two screws were placed in each area with pins runnind vertically to them. Bone fusion was done along the sides connecting the two vertebrae. I began having discomfort then pain 3 weeks ago, I am in etreme pain at this point. An X-ray this week showed one definite , possible two screws (S1) broken. Am awaiting MRI and CT scans to be done now. My question is, how common is it to have these screws break in such a short time period?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 7 years ago.
Well, these screws are placed within the bone in the attempt to "hold" the bone in place while your body attempts to fuse the two adjacent levels together.

During the months while the bones are not fused, these screws bear the force of stabilizing your bones -- if they should break, it is usually because of the force that was placed on the screws -- and if they should break and your back has not yet fused -- the "slippage" of the bones can cause pain.

So, in summary, it is not common to see screws break, but it is not uncommon as well -- and we see quite a number of screws break in fusions, especially lumbar fusions (since your lower back is supporting a lot of weight). When this occurs, one has to assess if there has been fusion -- and if not, consider removing the hardware and attempting refusion with replacement of the broken screws.
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