View Full Version : Flatback or Revision Surgery

31st August 2004, 07:11 AM
Hello everyone!

I am a new member and looking for anyone who has had flatback or revision surgery due to the Harrington Rod.

My sister has had serious pain for nearly 3 years now and although she is very hesitant to having revision surgery she is scheduled for October 13, 2004. We have received tons of information off the internet from an Elizabeth Mina on flatback & surgerys. I don't know all the particulars regarding what will be done - I am going to find out this week - but I am so scared for her. She still remembers her first operation at 13 and is now 41 with 2 kids. We will all be taking turns staying with her but don't really know how she will cope with things this go round. She is now on prednisone for pain - she seems to be imune to everything else. She has had it all!!!! The prednisone has only been for a month because she hurt herself really bad trying to do some baby things at therapy. She cannot sleep, is nausiated, irritable, crys all the time and iis in severe pain. She also has blisters on her toes from trying to look up since she is bending over so far at the waist. Please help us - I look into her eyes and see soooo much pain - like a coyotee that is all alone. Will she ever be free of some of the pain after this operation? I don't know how anyone can live like this - I wish someone would help all you guys - there must be a better way!!!! She has done it all.

Please help.

Sick Sis

31st August 2004, 07:29 AM
Hi Pam,
I'm sorry to hear this about your sister. :-( None of us deserve such horrible pains... :mope:
I'm Liv, I'm 21 years old and from Belgium. I can't help you (I had surgery myself 5 years ago) but I think Titch can! She had revision surgery for Flatback 2 years ago.

Welcome to SSO! :welcome: Whereabouts in the world are you from?

31st August 2004, 12:13 PM

I'm at work at the moment, so this will probably be a somewhat incomplete reply. Liv is right, although I didn't actually have a Harrington rod, I had to have revision/salvage surgery for flatback in October 2002, 8 years after my first fusion.

The pain that is associated with flatback seems to be, like all scoliosis pain, somewhat variable, but it can be very intense. At the point that I had my surgery, I was on 2400mg ibuprofen, and 8 codydramol (each is 500mg paracetamol, 10mg dihydrocodeine tartrate) daily, and it was scarcely taking the edge off the pain. I had to walk with a stick and could still hardly walk (I was literally a matter of weeks from having to use a wheelchair to get around at all), and I had various neurological problems from nerve root compression and irritation.

I had complete collapse of my L2-3 disc beneath the fusion, and had a 45 or more degree kyphosis over T10-L3. I leaned forward by several inches, and was unable to stand up straight - I shuffled along with my hips and knees bent, and had lost at least 3 inches in height. My normal height is in the region of 1m78/5ft10, but because i was so crunched up and compressed with the flatback, for a fitted top to have the waist in the right place I needed to buy from the petite section.

The surgery I had involved removal of my posterior rods (Harringtons are a type of posterior rod - it means they go down the back of the spine, whereas anterior rods go along the side of it), with closing-wedge osteotomies at the back of my waist, to restore my lordosis, and extension of the fusion so that it now runs from T3-L4, both to support the very large osteotomies, and give additional correction of the curvature that had developed above and below the original fusion.

It's been a long recovery, and the initial part of the recovery was very difficult. The surgery returned my bottom curve to around 26 degrees, as it was after my first surgery (it had increased to around 40 degrees), and balanced my upper curve at about the same, and got my head centred over my sacrum again when viewed from the front. I wasn't entirely upright when viewed from the side, but nevertheless, the correction was excellent. Some improvements were almost immediate, others took more time, but have still improved significantly. I still use a stick for commuting (London bus drivers are evil, and as my balance isn't as good as most people's it makes sense), but very seldom otherwise. My pain, while not completely gone, is thoroughly manageable - as long as I eat reasonably well and get plenty of sleep, it's good. Mostly I only take painkillers at night, because I do get some pain during the night.

For the most part though, things are really good. There's a lot of very worrying information out there, but there really is good hope for excellent recovery :-) I hope that helps somewhat, and isn't too worrying a read - if you have any questions, please ask and I'll do my best to help. All being well, before too long your sister will be on the road to recovery and feeling a whole load better!


31st August 2004, 07:08 PM

31st August 2004, 07:28 PM
Just wanted to say welcome!! :wave:

31st August 2004, 10:37 PM
Hi Pam. I'm sorry to hear how bad your sister's discomfort is. I hope your sister gets some relief and can go back to living a pain-free life after this. I am still going through my consultations to see if I can have revision surgery, so I can't offer much advice. Fortunately, though, there are a few people here (like Titch) who can help. Good luck to you and your sister. Let us know how she does.

2nd September 2004, 12:47 PM
Hi Pam welcome to the site. :wave:

I think it's great that you're trying to find out info to help your sister :niceone: Unfortunately I can't help with this particular query as I've never had surgery but I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in this, we're here if you or your sister need any support. Give her a gentle hug from me :squeeze:

There is a wide range of knowledge and experiences on this site and like Kimberly said they will be happy to help.

4th September 2004, 08:49 AM
Thank you all for replying to my message. Tish - I especially appreciate just you taking the time to write back!!!!

My sister is actually coming to visit this week-end - tomorrow morning. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and I live in San Diego, CA. We have talked everynight on the phone since I posted my message and she is a mess - crying all the time. I don't know if it's the medicine or maybe she is so depressed over what she is having to go through in October (the revision surgery). She said she went to therapy today - baby massage - and was in so much pain she didn't know if she could take it.

I am so worried about her after the surgery and the pain!!! Now I'm starting to panic - but won't let her know it.

Again - thanks you guys.

Sic Sis

4th September 2004, 02:44 PM
Welcome to the site and I hope your sister gets her treatment soon and feels better .I had a Harrington rod when i was 13 in 1976 , i had a new disc in my neck earlier this year and have also got another dodgey one underneath my fusion .I dont need revision surgery yet but I guess it might not be that far off . I can only say that i can vouch that Titch has come through her operation with flying colours and if you see the pics of before and after they will give you real hope for your sister .I hope your sis gets sorted out real quick ,Take care .

5th September 2004, 10:57 PM
Welcome.... your sister is very lucky to have you by her side and supporting her so well. Just being there will make the world of difference! Good Luck!