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Where does fault lie if spinal instrumentation goes wrong?
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Where does fault lie if spinal instrumentation goes wrong?

Perhaps you had spinal fusion surgery after suffering injuries during a car crash. This is a common back operation, but in your case, complications developed.

You have experienced considerable post-operative pain as the result of broken spinal instrumentation. Was your surgeon negligent, or does the fault lie with the parts manufacturer?

Understanding spinal instrumentation

Spinal instrumentation refers to the use of interbody hardware, the goal of which is to stabilize the spine while the work of spinal fusion is under way. It involves the use of various kinds of surgical parts, including rods, plates, screws, hooks, wires, cages and spacers. Spinal instruments hold the bones of the spine in place until they fuse. During the healing process, your doctor can monitor progress through imaging scans.

Anticipating possible problems

Abnormal post-operative pain can signal problems with the spinal instrumentation. Infection could develop, causing the devices to loosen. A weak bone can also cause instrumentation to shift and move out of the proper position. In your case, the rods and screws became fatigued in some way, causing them to break.

Deciding what to do

There are two basic choices at this stage. First, your surgeon may recommend removing the spinal instrumentation in favor of performing reconstructive surgery. Second, your surgeon may believe that it paramount to leave the devices in place. Depending on your medical history, another surgery may bring added complications, such as the risk of a stroke or other heart issues.

Finding fault

Making a decision is not easy, and the situation is serious enough to warrant an investigation into the matter of negligence. Were one or more devices defective? If so, the manufacturer may be liable. If this is a case of medical malpractice, your surgeon could face a lawsuit. In either case, your well-being is a priority, and you have the right to pursue a claim for damages.