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The Disadvantages of a Titanium Rod in the Back

By Stephanie Kain ; Updated July 27, 2017

Living with scoliosis can be challenging and painful. Many children with spastic-quadriplegic cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disoders experience scoliosis as a complication of their disabilities, and surgery is often prescribed. This surgery, also referred to as the Luque-Galveston technique, involves having a titanium rod placed in the back. Although straightening the spine might be recommended, there are several disadvantages that should be considered.

Risks of Surgery

Sugery always carries a risk. In addition to the general risks associated with anesthesia, Luque-Galveston surgery carries its own set of potential complications, including perioperative death, deep wound infection and blood poisoning.

Infection and Inflammation

Having a foreign titanium rod in the back may cause inflammation and infection, both of which are painful. Infections in the spinal fluid can be very serious, as the spinal fluid is a direct conduit to the brain.

Migration and Breaking

In rare cases, it is possible for a titanium rod to migrate or even to break, particularly in individuals with strong extension patterns caused by spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. This would require further surgery to correct.

Nerve Damage

Having a rod and hooks placed in your back comes with the risk of nerve damage, both during and after surgery. Nerve damage can cause numbness, pain and in the worst case, paralysis.


Pseudoarthrosis refers to a false joint. After surgery, if the fused vertabrae fail to heal, a space can develop where there should be cohesion. This can cause pain which may worsen over time. The movement can also damage hardware implanted during the surgery, which may require additional operations.

Psychological Stress

Going through surgery, recovery and potential complications can cause varying amounts of stress to a patient. Post-operative recovery may require a stay in Intensive Care, further time in the hospital and follow-up surgeries. The patient may also have to avoid certain sports and other activities for a prolonged period of time following the operation.

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