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Old 10-04-2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

I have two herniated and degenerative disks at L4/5 and L5/S1. My doctor is suggesting a two level fusion and I need some advice. I'm only 31 years old and I'm concerned about my pain and the rest of my back in the future. I've heard that 3 level fusions, which i may end up having, are an absolute nightmare and should be avoided at all cost. I have had considerable chronic pain for 7 years but i would rather live like this than risk having 3 or more fusions in the future. Has anyone out there had a great deal of success with a two level lumbar fusion and has anyone out there had another healthy disk fail because of their fusion. I'm extremely confused and would like to talk to someone that's been in my situation, and about the surgery itself.

Thanks for the help

 
Old 10-04-2006, 03:28 PM   #2
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

Hi - I'm probably too soon out from my two level l4/l5 l5/s1 to give you a lot of 'successful' information about the future - I'm being optimistic, and according to my x-rays so far - every level above my fused discs look even, healthy and hydrated or however they are supposed to look and I'm older than you by almost 20 years. I would think if you have a successful fusion at those two lower levels your probability of having a healthy back for several years to come should be good - if you have a good specialist do your fusion, and you are otherwise healthy and practice a healthy lifestyle.

 
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Old 10-04-2006, 03:47 PM   #3
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

[QUOTE=MWolcott]I have two herniated and degenerative disks at L4/5 and L5/S1. My doctor is suggesting a two level fusion and I need some advice. I'm only 31 years old and I'm concerned about my pain and the rest of my back in the future. I've heard that 3 level fusions, which i may end up having, are an absolute nightmare and should be avoided at all cost. I have had considerable chronic pain for 7 years but i would rather live like this than risk having 3 or more fusions in the future. Has anyone out there had a great deal of success with a two level lumbar fusion and has anyone out there had another otherwise healthy disk fail because of their fusion? My doctor will not perform a 3 level fusion if my L3/L4 disk does herniate from the added weight. I'm concerned that i may get temporary, short term, pain relief but that i may end up in worse shape in the future. I'm extremely confused and would like to talk to someone that's dealt with this life changing decision.

Thanks so much for the help[/QUOTE]

Last edited by MWolcott; 10-04-2006 at 03:49 PM.

 
Old 10-04-2006, 07:39 PM   #4
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

Hello,
April 2005 I had a three level fusion. L2-L5. Today, yesterday, I'm still in alot of pain. Probably more pain than before. Sorry to say that my fusion didn't take and they want to go back in a do another 360. Pretty scarey. They are also thinking about putting in a spinal stimulator. Problem is that they want my first surgeon to do the work and he is 1200 miles away. Don't get me wrong, he is one of the best in the county, but to have to travel all that way, then find a place to stay for 2 or 3 weeks, is going to be very uncomfortable. There are success stories, and there are failed fusion stories. I'm 45 years old and didn't use my owe bone. This time they want to use my own bone for grafting. All I can say is give it some serious thought before you say yes. It is a lifetime committment.

Good luck with your decision.

Tim

 
Old 10-04-2006, 09:45 PM   #5
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

I am nine weeks post op with my two level fusion L4,L5,S1. The very next morning they yanked me out of bed, as bad as I was in pain then, I remember how straight and tall I stood. I could not do that for years in the past. I would say that after my fusion, 90% of the pains I had before are gone. I still have some arthritis, worn knees from the years of trying to live with the herniations, and I still have numb feet and swelling after the operation. It is still painful to move around in bed, but once adjusted, can sleep most all night. I am very sore and stiff in all the wrong places when I wake up, and it takes me about 4 hours to get feeling good enough to putz around the house. I am glad I had the disc taken care of, I am back to doing my hobbies, but set and rest often. I cannot do much, as the fusion needs to harden before PT starts in December. It is a slow recovery for us 50ish guys, should be faster for younger folk. Best wishes to you and your decision on the fusion, I am glad I had mine, but was not to keen before the operation, but I am glad I went through it.

 
Old 12-03-2010, 08:57 AM   #6
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

[QUOTE=MWolcott;2588809][/QUOTE]
I had my Lumbar Fusion at L4/5 and S1. The first fusion I had I used a Bone Donor. Although I followed everything they told me to do I was still in a lot of pain months after surgery. In 2003 I ended up having to have another fusion,but this time they used my own bone. The prior fusion never fully fused. My body rejected the bone from a Donor..This one did heal. I ask that if you're considering using a bone donor do your homework. Ask questions on the success rate. Yes,it does prevent you from healing from two surgeries,but it's better than having to go through another fusion! It has been 7 years since I've had my last fusion. While it's true that I have less problems with pain in that area of my back, I do have problems with my mid-back and neck. I didn't have any problems with these areas before the fusions. I didn't know that having a Fusion made the area above and below it weaker.
I have more problems with my back today than I did before my fusions. Would I have had those problems anyway? No one knows or will give me a straight answer. I cannot tell anyone if they should or shouldn't have a fusion. However, I wish I would have known what questions to ask before I had mine. Please research! If a Doctor gives you surgery as your only option, Please get a second and even a third opinion! (check to make sure your insurance will cover this). Neurosurgeon vs Orthopedic Surgeon?? While both can specialize in Spine Surgery( be sure your Doctor is BOARD CERTIFIED. Don't assume that they are. You'd be surprised.) Only neurosurgeons are trained during their six or seven year residency to perform procedures inside the lining of the spinal canal called the dura. Make sure that if you're seeing a Neurosurgeon they are well trained and experienced in doing SPINE surgery. Some specialize in BRAIN SURGERY and have very little experience in doing Spine Sugery. The same for a Orthopedic Surgeron, make sure you don;t settle on one who specializes in doing mostly joint surgeries,and do very little spine surgeries. Don't be afraid to ask your surgeon about his or her training, practice focus, experience with whatever operation has been recommended, and whether you the patient have been presented all of the options that exist (regardless of whether your surgeon performs all of them or not). Don't be afraid to speak up. It's your body, your spine! Good Luck!

 
Old 12-03-2010, 11:32 AM   #7
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

I too am having two level lumbar fusion in Jan. I have no disc height at L5-S1, and my L4-5 is on its way out too. I have tried every conservative treatment known to man and nothing has provided relief. I feel this is my only option. I too am scared but, I am positive and believe in my NS. Do get a 2nd opinion though. Take care!

 
Old 12-04-2010, 01:43 AM   #8
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

I am recovering from an ALIF at L5-S5. I had seen several surgeons but settled on a well known neurosurgeon who specialises in spine surgery. He was great and I am recovering without any problems. He cancelled the disc replasement at L4-5 as all my problems came from the coapsed disc below. I am very happy as it healed my sciatica and now my 2 years of butt leg and foot pain is gone.
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25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

 
Old 12-04-2010, 05:35 AM   #9
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

Hi Tim, I noticed your post and I have a similar situation. I was fused from L3 -S1 with a disc implant at L5-S1. These were two seperate surgeries, and I'm getting ready to have a third surgery. My fusion didn't take and I have a compressed nerve at S1. I live 1000 miles away from my neurosurgeon now and I am on workers comp so they want me to have the surgery in the state that I was injured. I can't figure out how to do that! How do I fly back after having major surgery?? I can't imagine sitting on the plane for 2 1/2 hours even 3 weeks after surgery. Have you had yours yet? Are you in the process of planning it? Please let me know.. thanks

 
Old 12-10-2010, 05:17 PM   #10
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Re: I Have Questions about Two Level Lumbar Fusion

you're right about seeing a neurosurgeon. i was told by 3 different orthopedic surgeons that i was not a cantidate for surgery since my problems were 3 level. after seeing a neuro surgeon i had my 3 level fusion & am on my way to recovering. the main back pain is gone as well as the leg pain. i'm only 2 months out from my surgery so i have a ways to go. at least i'm able to sit without terrible back & leg pain. i might even be able to ride my road king this summer.

 
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