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Do you normally show the patient the hardware that you will use in the surgery?

Dr. Christopher L. Hamill

Buffalo General HospitalBuffalo General Hospital


Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

In my practice I do have a model spine in the office, which I show patients. I allow them to handle the model and the hardware that I have placed on it. However, I use a number of different instrumentation systems, and the one that I have put on the model spine is only one of those types. So even though the patient can look at it and feel it, it may not be the exact system that I use, but all these things are quite similar with the same underlying idea. Allowing the person to look at it and touch does help understand what it looks like and how it is attached to the spine.

Dr. Robert W. Molinari

Rochester, NY

I show every patient the hardware.

Dr. Jean-Pierre C. Farcy

New York, NY
M.M.C. Spine Center

No, I usually do not show any hardware to children unless they ask.

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

Many patients are curious about what the spinal instrumentation looks like and how it can straighten the spine. We keep spine models in the office for just such occasions. Seeing and touching the implants on a spine model can help you better understand the surgical procedure.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

We will often show our patients the instrumentation that is used in the surgery and that is implanted in the patient's spine. Some patients do not want to see this but many do. The implants that are used vary depending upon the approach. Generally, rods and screws or hooks are used. The diameter of the rod differs depending on the approach (anterior versus posterior). Most commonly, stainless steel rods are used but often titanium rods are used.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

If they ask I will show them an x-ray with the implants in place so they will know what their x-rays will look like postoperatively.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

We will show the patient the hardware that will be used in the surgery during the preoperative teaching if patient or patient's family are interested in seeing it.

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

In my practice, I show patients and their families X-rays of operations similar to the type that the patients are about to undergo. Although I do keep samples of spinal implants in my office for patients to observe, I find that most patients find it easier to understand the instrumentation by looking at X-rays.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

We normally show the instrumentation to the patients and their parents before the surgery. We have plastic spine models with the instrumentation that we are going to use implanted on the plastic models so that the family can easily see how the instrumentation works.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

I usually show people what the hardware is like, but hardware is changing and sometimes I don't have the "latest" stuff to show.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

We go over the surgery in detail with the patient and their family. We will explain what the operation is like and will show them x-ray examples and pictures of other patients (who have all identifying information removed from the x-ray for confidentiality reasons). If desired, we will show the patients examples of the implants that we put in. We have these unassembled to allow the patient to look at and manipulate the implants. We also have the implants assembled on a model of the spine.

Dr. Patrick Bosch

Albuquerque, NM

I have spinal models in my office so I can show my scoliosis patients the instrumentation or “hardware” that’s used in scoliosis surgery; however, I usually do not show patients the exact components that will be used in their own surgery.

Dr. W. Christopher Urban

Glen Burnie, MD

Prior to your operation, the procedure will be reviewed in detail. The specific goals of surgery are discussed as well as the potential risks. During this meeting, x-rays, spine models, and hardware are used to answer questions and review the critical steps of the surgery.

Dr. Frank J. Schwab

New York, NY

For patients that are interested in seeing the instrumentation, I will show them an x-ray and the actual type of rod and screws/hooks that will be used.

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery


Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

Yes, we have plastic spine models with a typical scoliosis spinal construct, which nicely demonstrates the implants utilized during surgery.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010