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Old 11-25-2003, 10:57 AM   #1
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lilpuu HB User
Question Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

I recently was told by my surgeon that I needed a disc fusion on L-4, L-5, He told me the main cause was unstability of the spine. And that titaniuim brackets and screws are in order to take the pain away.
I don't want to have surgery and come out worse then when I went in.

Anyone out there can tell me about their experiences on this matter regarding to recovery.

Thanks,
Lilpuu

 
Old 11-25-2003, 05:32 PM   #2
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Location: Northern California
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luvwindnhair HB User
Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

[FONT=Palatino Linotype][COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]
Hi Lil~
I have not had this surgery, but I should be having it! I am trying for the artifical disc thing instead. Anyways, Yes, they do place titanium rods, plates and screws into the spine, to stabalize it. How much pain are you in? Did you have a discogram? Obviously you have had an MRI. I work in an orthopedics office, and I just saw a patient today who is 6 days out of surgery.For the same procedure, and I asked her if she would do it over again? In a heart beat she said she would. She has noticed alot of changes already. But everyone is different.
If you look on the internet for Spinal Fusion Surgery, you will find pictures, and more info to answer your questions. Ask your Dr too. I am sure you will get alot of responces here. Hang in there, and keep us posted!
__________________
L5/S1 herniation 7mm 01/18/00
Microdiscectomy/Laminectomy 10/12/00
Thoratic pain began Dx buldge @ T-8 08/02
Had MRI on Lumbar because pain was returning, also scaned T spine 8/02, Dx recurrent L5/S1 herniation and new herniation @ level L4/5
Cervical pain began 2/03
Had MRI~Dx herination @ level C 6/7
Had anterior decompresion with hardware and use of my own hip bone graft to C 6/7 8/14/03
Accepted in Clinical trials/getting my 2 level Prodisc ADR in Feb!

 
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Old 11-25-2003, 06:39 PM   #3
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Location: Texas USA
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shaukc HB User
Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

[QUOTE=luvwindnhair][FONT=Palatino Linotype][COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]
Hi Lil~
I have not had this surgery, but I should be having it! I am trying for the artifical disc thing instead. Anyways, Yes, they do place titanium rods, plates and screws into the spine, to stabalize it. How much pain are you in? Did you have a discogram? Obviously you have had an MRI. I work in an orthopedics office, and I just saw a patient today who is 6 days out of surgery.For the same procedure, and I asked her if she would do it over again? In a heart beat she said she would. She has noticed alot of changes already. But everyone is different.
If you look on the internet for Spinal Fusion Surgery, you will find pictures, and more info to answer your questions. Ask your Dr too. I am sure you will get alot of responces here. Hang in there, and keep us posted![/QUOTE]



Hello ! I just had a anterior/posterior fusion on L4 - L5 on Nov 11th . I woke up with my pain gone . All i have now is muscle and some nerve pain . Of course everybody is different . This is just how mine turned out . I would do it again . Hope i helped a little . You can look at November surgerys and see more of us that have had this surgery . Shauna

 
Old 11-25-2003, 11:01 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 38
davidc HB User
Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

[QUOTE=lilpuu]I recently was told by my surgeon that I needed a disc fusion on L-4, L-5, He told me the main cause was unstability of the spine. And that titaniuim brackets and screws are in order to take the pain away.
I don't want to have surgery and come out worse then when I went in.

Anyone out there can tell me about their experiences on this matter regarding to recovery.

Thanks,
Lilpuu[/QUOTE]

Hi Lilpuu
I have just had my third operation. The first involved my L3-L4 and L4-L5 in 1989. I then had problems with my L5-S1 in 1999. My last involved my L5-S1 again but I had a fusion done this time.

I had a PLIF (Posterior lumbar interbody fusion) by the sounds of it. The 'official' explanation on a letter that I have from the Health Region states that I had quote "L5-S1 spinal decompression and fusion with instrumentation with left iliac crest bone graft" unquote. My doctor simply told me that he went in through my back from an older surgery site and inserted two titanium rods with 8 screws and the bone from my hip. One of the nurses was surprised that I didn't have two surgery sites as she said a lot of doctors have a separate incision for the bone graft versus the fusion. However, my surgeon apparently prefers to use one long (8" I am told" incision and do everything from the one site.

As far as the bone graft goes, everybody told me that it would be much more painful than the fusion site. However, I have not found that at all. I don't feel any pain whatsoever from the site where they took the bone graft.

I am doing so much better again today than I was yesterday. I am starting to feel it in my lower back from sitting here and so will have to close this soon, but I am recovering at a much much higher rate than I had anticipated. I am not trying to push it though and am just taking it slow and easy.

There is a lot more documentation regarding a number of people having surgeries under two major posts, one being 'Good Fusion Outcomes Wanted' and the other under November Surgeries.

Take a look through them and if you want answers to any other questions, shoot away.

Cheers,
David

 
Old 11-26-2003, 05:59 AM   #5
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Location: Georgia
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rlcowboy HB User
Unhappy Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

Hey, I had a spinal fusion (L5 to S1) on March 24th and still had plenty of pain in the months that have followed. It is now November and I am having to go back into surgery in a few weeks, this time from the front side so my Doc can insert some kind of wedge in front of the disc where I had the fusion and also insert cages on the two discs above that, and I had pedical screws inserted in the first surgery and he says I could need a third surgery to go back in from the back side to extend the pedical screws? Wow, what a nightmare, having to take lots of pain meds just to ease SOME of the awful pain I am going through, good luck with your surgery, one thing to be prepared for is the constipation from the pain meds you will get in the hospital, no one warned me of that and it was bad having to try and have a bowel movement after not having one for two weeks right after surgery, very, very painful experience and you can imagine how my back felt durring that, so I would sugest getting stool softeners BEFORE you go into surgery just to be on the safe side!! Beleive me, those strong pain meds that you will recieve right after surgery will back you up, so just a heads up! Rlcowboy
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Old 11-27-2003, 06:35 AM   #6
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Location: Spring Lake, Mi. USA
Posts: 234
acme HB User
Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

I had L-4/L-5 Fusion surgery in Oct. 2001! Best decision I have ever made! 14 yrs. of suffering till Fusion! Had the bone graph-Hardware-Wore a brace for 1 1/2 mos! Did lots of walking to help the healing process......I'm doing great! Had it done when I was 53 yrs. Old......Now 55 & can do so much with NO Pain.......It's like a New lease on Life for me!
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Old 06-08-2010, 05:50 AM   #7
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Kalenasptgt HB User
Re: Lower Back Surgery,Disc Fusion

From someone whose 38 year old husband almost died and is now permanently disabled, all I can say is that you need to get past the idea that doctors are "experts" and are smarter than anyone else. He had the same condition you describe to a T, yet he was implanted with hardware that was infected with both Staph (MRSE) and Strep PRIOR to being put in his back, they knew it and left it there hoping it would go away or he would either get addicted or die from an overdose of the literally lethal amount of meds he was prescribed. He had 4 operations and only because I had nurses who told me "You aren't being told everything. Go downstairs and get a copy of his file." It was almost 700 pages after 2 hospital admissions of almost 4 weeks each and only 1 1/2 week between, 4 surgeries, and almost dying because although they knew what was wrong, they did things during the procedures we didn't know about after the initial surgery that on top of infected hardware, he screwed into the L5 nerve and caused permanent nerve damage. He broke his L4 during the L5 screw re-do, didn't tell us and put screws and rods there, then removed them during surgery #4 when he was supposed to be doing wound clean out after the infection got so bad my family doctor was going to admit him when he OD'd taking meds according to written instructions by the doctor. When I got the records, I found page after page where we were lied to, he was sent home and told to take the drugs and the pain would go away while they knew there was fluid pockets from the infection that after the very first hospitalization and 2 surgeries, ran from his S2-L3, and when I kept bringing up the symptoms that were classic indications of the infection, unbeknownst to me, I was told I was overreacting and as long as he could state his name, address and phone number, he was not overmedicated. Even though he could not remember a full 5 week period, or even what happened 30 minutes ago. It was our regular doctor who got him into UCSF's spinal center. In November when the wound still was not closed and I had to pack 30 inches of strip gauze 7.5 centimeters deep into his back every 4 hours or it would ooze green smelly infection drainage, my regular doctor called the head of UCSF's spinal center on a Friday to get us in, they called us Monday to come in Tuesday and he spent 2 weeks under all kinds of tests that had never been done and we didn't even know about. His almost 8 hour surgery to remove all of the hardware and all the scar tissue the could had to be performed by the Co-Chair of their spinal division, along with the head of plastic surgery and the head of infectious diseases. They confirmed the records from the local hospital that the hardware was infected when it was put in from day one, and those records along with UCSF helped us identify that he should have never had the surgery in the first place, but even so, had they just fixed the problems and treated what they knew from day 1 instead of lying and covering it up. We signed off on complications - not lies and coverups. It was our regular doctor who said we needed to get a non-local attorney and sue the surgeon, and that he would be more than willing and ready to testify on our behalf. We live in a fairly small town, so for a doctor to do that against a neurosurgeon said a lot. I did check his license in our state and there were no complaints listed prior to the surgery. What I suggest to you is to go to your local county courthouse and you can do a search by anyone's last name to look for any open, pending or closed cases against them and even be allowed to read the file as it is public record. The max they show is 20 per name and he was maxed out - as was the hospital - and all for malpractice. He settled all the cases which kept it off his license record. You can only get that info, including the plaintiff and attorneys involved (where we got ours and although they were listed once out of the 20, they were VERY familiar with him and told me they have represented plaintiffs in MULTIPLE cases against him. They told me all kinds of things to prove it, like which attorneys he uses (and I already knew that). They are reviewing our records now. We put complete trust and our lives in their hands, and I learned in the very first week that was all out the window and had to take control. Basically, most surgeons have those god-complexes and they LOVE people with private insurance. After what I have sitting in front of me which is over 2000 pages after the 8 hour UCSF surgery and continuing treatment, seeing all sorts of lies and contradictions between what he said and wrote in his records (you're entitled to a copy of his office records too) and what the daily CT and/or MRI's said. His condition continues to decline and he will permanently be disabled, having to use a walker when he's only 38 in order to walk without falling because now his right leg is paralyzed as far as he can control, yet continuously in pain he describes as being between beds of nails non-stop. All I can say is before I would consider lumbar surgery, I would not only get a 2nd opinion from a UC hospital with a spinal division, but have the surgery there because you don't get just one surgeon. You get a team. His case somehow even made it to a reporter at our local news station and she wanted to come interview us. We agreed but the day she was supposed to come, I contacted my doctor and asked if I should do this and he said no - not till the case is reviewed by an attorney. Ironically, a local attorney REALLY wanted the case and even tried to help us "off the record" after seeing our records, but he couldn't take the case because he was using the surgeon as a paid "expert witness" in a separate case. However, he talked to us more than once and gave us some advice again, "off the record". THAT'S what can happen in a "routine operation that I have done thousands of" as he said. Check county court records for suits once you pick a surgeon should you go that route, but know that UCSF said that he could have had other treatments that we were never offerred because they were newer and non-surgical. Finally, I recommend again a UC hospital like UC San Francisco or UC Davis in California, or one wherever you live. You will get better care and they literally saved his life when his surgeon sent him home with a hardware infection to die. He spent a year on antibiotics and the first 6 months were via a pic line that fed them via IV every 4 hours. He will always be susceptable to infection and a MRSE carrier, and the bloodwork they did 1 1/2 hour before his surgery showed that he had some type of infection that wasn't there 3 days prior in his pre-op bloodwork. They didn't bother to look at it or they would have seen it clear as day. Remember, you need to take charge, have someone you trust to help you if things seem "off", and not be afraid to write down your questions and pull them out and ask the doctor to answer them. The people at UCSF actually appreciated that because they were working WITH us. The local infectious disease guy that was called in by the surgeon kept refusing to even answer what type of infection he had, demanding to know our educational background and if we had a degree and in what field. He literally told me I was not qualified to be told because I did not have a medical background with my BS in Business Management and would just "confuse things for everyone". I handed my husband the phone after I said into the receiver "this jerk wants me to hang up and won't tell me, but I'm handing the phone to you because he cannot refuse by law to tell YOU no matter what. Then I told him to make sure the doctor spelled it for him and he sat there quizzing my husband on HIS education and background before he would answer and kept trying to get off the phone. We made him tell us about the MRSE (staph) although he left out the Strep strain that is normally found in livestock - not humans. Makes you wonder how it came from supposedly sterile packaging and put right into his back in a hospital, doesn't it? Hope this helps and know that we found out there were other options we found out about later from people who used them and they worked. We learned the hard way that our complete trust in the "expert" was very wrongly placed and neither of us will go to any hospital other than UCSF or UC Davis for ANYTHING.

PS: Until Feb of 08, hospitals in many states didn't have to report staph infections to any board or CDC or health department. Even now, they only have to report ones involving death or ICU placement for staph. One nurse told us that we ran into outside the hospital that all 3 local hospitals had HUGE staph infection rates but since it didn't have to be reported and they weren't telling people that their infections were either MRSA or MRSE (both staph), people didn't know about it. Pretty sad, huh? Just hope this helps or gives you some things to think about. At least you know where to go to see if your surgeon has any or multiple lawsuits. A couple - stuff happens. When you max out the 20 they show and that only went back 3 years, you might wanna check somebody else out. All I can say is that if you are in California and can get to UCSF, they were absolutely awesome and even let me have a private room to sleep in for the week my husband was in the hospital so I could stay with him. That's where doctors go to LEARN procedures, so where else would the better information and best technology be? Combined with the team philosophy where doctors worked together made a big difference as well, as they weren't fighting amongst themselves with big egos like we saw locally. It's your life, and if you don't maintain control of your medical treatment, your surgeon will disappear and nobody else picks up the ball unless you get lucky with the support staff like we did.

 
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