During surgery, styloid fractured and dislocated. They "lost" it and it is still in my neck. Has this happened to anyone?


I had my surgery on Sept. 30, 2020. I’ve since seen the doctor and read the report.
Just wondering if this has happened to anyone -

(from the report)
“The styloid process was identified on palpation. Instruments were used to remove the surrounding muscular attachments and periosteum. During the course of this, the thinned process was fractured and dislocated. This is a typical part of the procedure. Thereafter, it dislocated to a position that made it difficult to safely retrieve. Palpation was also attempted with a separate sterile glove through the mouth. Nonetheless, the portion of process that was fractured was not able to be visualized or palpated and, given that these maneuvers may themselves be therapeutic, it did not seem prudent to risk damaging adjacent structures.”

So . . . they don’t know where the broken piece of styloid is - they weren’t able to visualize it or retrieve it and it is still somewhere in my neck.

Have you ever heard of this happening?

Overall, they think that since the bone was moved, it will relieve the symptoms.

However, leaving the broken styloid process in my neck has a big psychological impact!! This has been 5 years and I thought surgery would improve it and now to think the styloid is still in there somewhere. I also have no idea how much fractured and how much styloid process is remaining.
I also have lingering effects from the surgery - i.e. numbness and difficulty opening my mouth.

Please send prayers and positive vibes.

Thank you!

I am so sorry to hear this. I can imagine it would be very nerve wracking. I hope that your health continues to improve and that that lost piece does not cause any more problems. Who did your surgery? I will keep you in my thoughts.

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Not surprised you still have difficulties with numbness and mouth opening as that is normal. I still have numbness and its been 5 months although is slowly began to subside about 3 weeks out and at about 12 weeks I felt decently. I would probably react the same as you. Knowing that piece is still in there would freak me out too! It sounds like it would have been risky to retrieve it and they opted for a conservative approach? Did the doctor mention any of this at post-op visit? This is why I like to get the operative reports, so I have a better understanding of what was done. Knowing the length of the piece would be helpful as if it is very small, Id be less freaked out by it.
At this point you can only move forward and hope this doesnt become an irritant in your neck. Only time will tell. You could always ask them to do another CT scan and see where it is and find out the length? Then you might be able to rest easier. Just a thought. Jules or Isiah can probably answner further about this happening before with others. Hoep ot all goes well. Hang in there.

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Hi Sunflower,

I am also very sorry this happened to you & can totally understand the psychological impact. I agree w/ Snapple2020 that having a follow-up CT scan to determine length & location of the missing section of styloid might give you some peace. Our bodies will sometimes create a protective barrier around foreign objects, so there is a possibility that little piece of styloid will end up encapsulated in a soft protective covering that will keep it from causing any harm. If you do have significant pain that goes on beyond a year, it may be that little piece is causing a problem, & you can decide how to proceed at that point. For the moment, it sounds like you’ve gotten some good results from your surgery. It will take up to year for the numbness to go away, & as Snapple said, some months for your jaw joint to begin to function more normally.

ES surgery is major surgery & it does take quite awhile for nerves & some of the soft tissues to heal. Try to be patient, rest when your body asks you to & maintain as positive of a mindset as possible. These things will all help you recover faster.

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Thank you.
Yes, they said that there was risk in trying to retrieve it.
The ENT surgeon said that they could do a CT scan if there are issues but she doesn’t want to put me through it at this time. However, for peace of mind, I may request one.


So sorry that you’ve found out this after surgery! It’s early days yet, you won’t know the full outcome of surgery, the numbness & difficulty opening your mouth are normal & may not improve for a bit.
I’ve not heard of any surgeons accidentally losing the styloid, but there have been a couple of members who’s doctors just snapped the styloid & left it in. I do agree for peace of mind I’d want a CT to see where it is!
Keep healing…thinking of you :pray: :bouquet: :hugs:

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How long after surgery did you have pain?
Just to give me an idea.

I have pain in my neck and in my mouth (it looks quite bruised where they tried to palpate the styloid during surgery), and when I move my head downwards.


Thank you.
At this time, I am hesitant to give the names of the doctors.
I was supposed to have surgery in March but it was cancelled due to COVID. Then the ENT retired. He agreed to come back and he performed the surgery, :+1: and it was facilitated by another ENT. Therefore, the new ENT is doing follow up.

I had minor pain but most of it was in my jaw for about one month. My neck was bruised and started turning yellow which is a sign of healing for a good 3 weeks. All your muscles and ligaments are reacting and healing and scar tissue forming. I wouldn’t expect much till at least 6 weeks out and up to 12 weeks for major things to subside. Everyone heals different. Yeah, I would want a CT scan myself. You may want to wait to have it until the swelling goes down some though so you can get an accurate picture. Hang in there. Its just been a couple weeks. be patient

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Hi Sunflower,

I had pain off & on for 6-9 months after my surgeries. It was mostly gone by 2-4 months post op but some areas & symptoms were slower to recover.

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Sunflower, I will pray for you for a quick and total recovery. I have always been a believer that things always happen for a purpose and that from every bad thing we encounter a good thing will come out of it. Be optimistic and don’t think of the worse. Instead, as hard as it may be for you, don’t try to focus on what has happened but on your road to recovery. Later, somehow, or in some way things will fall into pieces and a solution for your current concern will be found and all will work for your benefit. Prayers for you, so that you may find peace and acceptance for now while you recover from your surgery. After your recovery you shall have time to get your answers. For now our prayers are with you and you shall see how every problem has a solution, and with God’s will it will all work in your favor.