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Does insertion of metal instead of plastic for cervical fusion cause neck pain?

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Posted on Tue, 10 May 2016
Question: I had a 4 level anterior cervical fusion on Dec 15 2015 after an unsuccessful posterior cervical surgery May 15. I now have a hard lump behind my ear and still have pain. I was told plastic was going to be used due to my allergy from metals however I seen his assistant and she stated Titanium was used. They gave me Hydroxyzine pam 25 mg 4 times a day. I am still sleeping in a recliner due to the pain in bed is to severe. I am worried the metal in my neck is causing the problem?
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Answered by Dr. Dariush Saghafi (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Titanium rarely causes allergic reactions

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for asking your question on this network. Obviously, I cannot speak for the surgeon in this case to explain why metal was used instead the promised plastic. It may have been a structural issue that required the stability of something like titanium for which plastic simply would not have worked. Sometimes we don't know these things until the patient is actually on the table and opened to see what's what...therefore, the most likely assumption that you NEEDED the titanium is probably correct.

As far as ongoing pain....again, this is an issue that should be addressed with the surgeon since I cannot tell you whether the lump behind the ear is something that is expected following the surgery or represents a complication. If it is painful to the touch, seems to be filled with fluid or pus, or is red, hot, or seems to have liquid oozing from the skin then, this should be immediately reported and you shouldn't wait till next week.

If it is just painful then, I believe you you have time to wait to discuss things with the surgeon although I don't see why a phone call in to his answering service (even over the weekend) since you are in pain would hurt. He may not answer...but then, again you could be pleasantly surprised.

Titanium is not known to be allergenic while stainless steel or other alloys definitely are. Besides titanium is MRI compatible so that's why they chose that particular metal over any other.

I hope this addresses your concerns and that you'll keep me in mind for future questions regarding these or other neurological/medical issues. Feel free to upload images if you'd like.

Otherwise, I'd appreciate your rating this interaction with a HIGH STAR SCORE and look forward to a few words of feedback. In addition, I'd appreciate your CLOSING THIS QUERY if you're satisfied with my response.

Write to me any time at: bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi for additional comments, concerns, or to provide status updates if you'd like which I would love to receive from you to see just what has been discovered.

Many thanks for using this service to ask your questions. Be well.

This consult request has taken a total of 10 minutes of time to read, research, and respond
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Dariush Saghafi

Neurologist

Practicing since :1988

Answered : 2473 Questions

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Does insertion of metal instead of plastic for cervical fusion cause neck pain?

Brief Answer: Titanium rarely causes allergic reactions Detailed Answer: Thank you for asking your question on this network. Obviously, I cannot speak for the surgeon in this case to explain why metal was used instead the promised plastic. It may have been a structural issue that required the stability of something like titanium for which plastic simply would not have worked. Sometimes we don't know these things until the patient is actually on the table and opened to see what's what...therefore, the most likely assumption that you NEEDED the titanium is probably correct. As far as ongoing pain....again, this is an issue that should be addressed with the surgeon since I cannot tell you whether the lump behind the ear is something that is expected following the surgery or represents a complication. If it is painful to the touch, seems to be filled with fluid or pus, or is red, hot, or seems to have liquid oozing from the skin then, this should be immediately reported and you shouldn't wait till next week. If it is just painful then, I believe you you have time to wait to discuss things with the surgeon although I don't see why a phone call in to his answering service (even over the weekend) since you are in pain would hurt. He may not answer...but then, again you could be pleasantly surprised. Titanium is not known to be allergenic while stainless steel or other alloys definitely are. Besides titanium is MRI compatible so that's why they chose that particular metal over any other. I hope this addresses your concerns and that you'll keep me in mind for future questions regarding these or other neurological/medical issues. Feel free to upload images if you'd like. Otherwise, I'd appreciate your rating this interaction with a HIGH STAR SCORE and look forward to a few words of feedback. In addition, I'd appreciate your CLOSING THIS QUERY if you're satisfied with my response. Write to me any time at: bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi for additional comments, concerns, or to provide status updates if you'd like which I would love to receive from you to see just what has been discovered. Many thanks for using this service to ask your questions. Be well. This consult request has taken a total of 10 minutes of time to read, research, and respond