I'm new to posting on these boards so I appologize if this is already answered somewhere.
I was wondering how you found out that you had a failed fusion? I had a Cervical Fusion December 2004 and the next day Lumbar 4-5 fusion. My back still hurts alot and, I know that when I had a ct scan of the Lumbar in Sept. 05, it wasn't fused yet and Dr. said that he likes to wait at least 1 year which was this passed Dec. I just recently had a ct and can't interpet what report says. I posted asking if anyone could tell me what it means. Anyway funny enough all of the cervical problems that I had before my fusion at c5-6 are now returning again.
Hello TuscanLady40 -
I think this is the first time I've heard of anyone having a cervical and lumbar surgery at the same time. How in the world did you manage? Its very interesting to me since I suddenly developed a C5-6 (I think) nerve pinch a few weeks back. It has recovered nearly 100 % but I had a few very terrible days with it and did indeed wonder whether it is possible to have the two surgeries done at once. It sure doesn't sound too easy so my hat is off to you.
I'll try to make this brief. I have had a rocky time of it since my L4-5 fusion a year ago. At about 6 months post op I suddenly began to feel better and thought I had finally turned the corner. It was short lived though. After 5 or 6 weeks of feeling great I was headed south again. My pain is in my left bum and also pervasive in my saddlebag area. My legs are weak and the more I do the more pain I have. I can't do work from a bending or squatting position without payuing a big price. As the day goes I start to limp and the longer I am up the longer it takes the aching to subside once I lay down. My discomfort isn't beyond a 6 -7 and I have the occassional good day. Mornings are best for me and weather seems to be a factor as well. At 10 months we did xrays and mri and it all 'looked good' but since everything is obviously not good my doc ordered cat scan, bone scan, and an EMG/SSEP tests.
The c scan and bone scan report said it was clear from all my recent xrays and from the scans that my fusion was 'nearly 100 % resorbed (self adsorbed). Gone. Not there anymore. The bone report then went on to say there was a small area of increased activity right at L5 that indicated the fusion there was not solid (sort of confusing, eh). My surgeon believes that may be a remnant bit of fusion bone that just might grow to a complete fusion if we could reduce the swelling and irritation from the area above it. But he only gave it a 50 % of taking. I have heard from others on this board that the diagnostics aren't always clear and failed fusions are sometimes not known until surgery reveals them. A factor is the harware. The metal distorts images for a certain space around them. Scar tissue and cartilage can appear to be bone on many of these images, too.
Anyway, that is the long of it and I can tell you that whether I have some bone there or not hardly matters much anymore because something is wrong enough so that a next surgery will be necessary. I think. I've just had an epidural yesterday and I suppose it just might work (to reduce swelling so the fusion bone, if there, may have a chance to grow)! Wouldn't that be great? But tell me what symptoms you are having that make you suspect non-fusion? Nice to meet you - Suzy-Q
Thank you for your story, it helps to know others stories and that I'm not alone in feeling pain like I do on a daily basis. Even though I know better, it's easy to think no one else knows or know one else cares (on my pitty days)lol.
Anyway, In Sept. 05 when the Neuro got back the results of my ct on lumbar, he interpited it as saying non fusion and, he said that he wasn't ready to agree with that report. One of the reasons for the ct was because I was still hurting, not being able to bend, sit, walk, ect without quite a bit of pain. As you know, you pay later for what you do work wise. Anyway, I seen my neuro in Jan and was still having the pain and he ordered this latest ct and I haven't seen him yet and cant figure out the un english version of what the heck it says.
In Sept he put me on Neurontin (gabapentin) 300mg ( has since been uped to 600mg) for the bad, bad leg pain, burning in feet, couldn't let legs touch at night, just horrible pain. Legs are better with the 600's. However, the pain in my back is centered right where the fusion is, almost constant bum pain, still can't bend forward and do much of anything without quite a bit of pain. Driving is horrible!
Oh yes I do know what you mean about "weather", I just got through some horrible pain, where our weather here has been around 75-80 and then, cloudy, rainy and wind from you know where. Anyway, Cold or weather like this can send me in a tail spin, I'm talking not being able to walk, talk without moaning, even laying down in bed moaning because the pain makes me roll up in a ball and cry! It's terrible.
Long story on back but I'll try to explain short of how I came to have both surgeries so close.
Have had back problems from lots of vehicle accidents, work, life ect. Last accident was in April 04. Whiplash and back strain. June 04 went in for lumbar lami, since back surgery had to be done, doc did manipulation trigger point injections on neck trying to get it better but couldn't go to pt because, doc didn't want anyone touching back...lalala, well, when I could get therapy for neck, it just wouldn't get better, finally in sept 04 doc ordered x-ray, it showed ddd at c5-6. Neck still kept hurting, pain in neck to shoulder, band pain in upper arm, fingers would occaisionly go numb. Doc finally ran Mri on neck in Dec 04. Well, by this time the lami on lumbar failed and I needed Fusion. Funny, as it turned out, the day of the lumbar fusion, I said bye to all my family wheeled off to pre-op holding area, they were cleaning OR, when doc comes in and say's ummmm, your blood work from yesterday says that your white count is really high, we are going to re-run them right now and if they come back ok, then we will take you in. So, in mean time I tell him, Doc I finally found out why my neck has been hurting for so long, he says why? I say well just this morning in pcp's office he got results from neck and mri shows moderate herniation at c5-6. He was like WHAT, he right then and there ordered everyone to get that report, get those films, (husband had to be called back in OR and told to drive 30 miles to get actual films.... Anyway, when he finally got both, he was like, Look at this film, can you see where there is a black area going down the spine, i was like yeah, he said, do you realize that, had I took you into surgery and the way that we position you for surgery, that you could have came out paralized in one arm???? OH my god, i was like WHAT!! So needless to say, Lumbar surgery was cancelled for that day, with me coming back the next day to have a cervical disectomy and fusion at c5-6 and then the following day to have the lumbar fusion.
It has definately been a long hard road. But I believe that God was watching my back and thank goodness with me that day.
Sorry this was so long, I guess this was my short version..lol Take care and thanks for chatting. Bernie
Hello Again TuscanLady -
Well, yours is a remarkable story to say the least. I can tell you that I am decidely against such drama at the OR door! For the love of Pete! I am always praising my medical staff. I do think I have received excellent care. But I must say I sometimes wonder what they keep a 'file' for since no one ever seems to know the most basic stuff that's in there. I have had the misfortune to have needed surgery 5 times in the last five years - most were minor surgeries. Anyway, it near to drove me bats that I was being asked the same questions over and over and over again. And that is how I feel as a person that found my hospital staff simply marvelous.
As I've already posted, my epidural gave me wonderful relief for 1 day! Sniff. Oh well, I guess I'll just hope for better luck with the next. Have you had any of these shots, TuscanLady? Any luck with them? I, too, have recently started having trouble while driving. It isn't always so bad but I have had a few rough drives with the most unrelenting pain in the left bum. Bummer, eh? Well, I should let you go. Take good care - Suzy-Q
Yes I have had epidurals, a total of 6 before surgery. 3 from 1/04-3/04 and and 3 more from 10-04/12-04. They seemed to quiet things down a little but, were no great help thats for sure. I know what you mean about the ct's and not being able to be read right do to the glareing from screws and rods. In the Sept.05 ct report it said that. I wish that there was a way that they could see good though, atleast then you would know what was going on.
Anyway, I guess another reason that I worry is not only the reports but the fact that I have osteoprosis and I worry that that might not let it fuse or that maybe the bones being held by fusion might break or something. I just really don't want to go through another fusion, that pain was the worst out of every surgery that I have ever had to have in my life.
Thanks for the advice and concern. Here's hoping that you've had a good day.
Good Evening TuscanLady-
My gosh I know what you mean in not wanting to think of having to redo a fusion. It took a bit of gumpshion to do it once - not to mention the toll it takes on your work and family life. A second go-round hardly seems possible at times to me. But I tell you when I am in my greatest pain I see things a whole lot differently. You have had 6 epidurals - holy cats! This was my second and I could live without any more but if they worked I 'd have em every week, I guess.
That leg pain sounds nasty. I haven't had the type of pain that I hear described as 'burning' or that prevents me from wearing shoes or socks. I am most grateful for that. Is the Neurotine working?
I am still waiting to hear from my 2nd opinion doc - don't even have an apt yet. Then, I'm having a few good days and wondering if it is the epidural and what that might mean. I'm trying to stay calm and not to get too giddy because I have had a few days before and ... well, lets just say I'm trying to be calm. Its very nice to talk to you - Take good care - Suzy-Q