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Old 01-31-2007, 10:39 AM   #1
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Spinal Spacers Question

Hi all: Has anyone had this surgery where they put spacers in between the vertebral space to restore the height between the vertebra?

If you've had this done, could you mention all positive and negative outcomes?

TIA

 
Old 01-31-2007, 01:57 PM   #2
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

My daughter had spacers put in as part of her fusion, laminectomy, disectomy surgery. Her surgeon just explained to her last week that when he did her fusion they put bone graph inside the spacers. So this was not done as a solo procedure. She was 15 at the time and is 19 mo post fusion and is doing great. cas

 
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Old 01-31-2007, 03:28 PM   #3
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

[QUOTE=caszyman;2774667]My daughter had spacers put in as part of her fusion, laminectomy, disectomy surgery. Her surgeon just explained to her last week that when he did her fusion they put bone graph inside the spacers. So this was not done as a solo procedure. She was 15 at the time and is 19 mo post fusion and is doing great. cas[/QUOTE]

Hi cas: Thanks for the reply... I'm glad she is doing well, that's good to hear. Are you saying that it was a two part procedure, having to go into the hospital twice? Did she have many limitations after the surgery-like no bending, lifting etc for a while, or did she get right back to her regular routine, and how long did she have the limitations if any? Did they tell your daughter how long the fusion would take to be solid/fused?

My brother is having a interbody fusion with spacers, and wanted to know more about it. Unfortunately I'm no help because I've had fusions, laminectomies etc many years ago, and all of them failed, except for the last one, but I still have many physical limitations and constant pain. I also have stenosis, degenerative disc disease, nerve damage, and severe osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. I had rods and pedicle screws put in the last time with the fusion and canal opening, because on one of the other surgeries where they did this, the screws just fell out of the bone and one went right through my sciatic nerve, so they had to remove that, and replaced it years later when the problem was unbearable.

Did they use donor bone for the fusion or her own bone, and if they used her bone where was it harvested from?

If you can tell me anymore that would be great-but I'm glad your daughter is doing so well.

 
Old 01-31-2007, 06:13 PM   #4
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

My daughter had a TLIF, transforamenal interbody fusion. My daughter is doing a 30 min presentation on her spondylolisthesis so her dr has spent nearly two hours explaining all of this to her lately. He explained that with the TLIF they are able to fuse the front also through the same incision in her back instead of having a large incision in the front also. There is also a posterior fusion, PLIF and others. One dr once explained to me that each dr has their desired procedure and it doesn't necessarily mean that one way is better than another.

We had three opinions prior to my daughter's surgery. Each pediatric ortho agreed with what needed to be done, but each would have approached it differently. One anterior and posterior, one only posterior and our dr TLIF.

All of her procedures were done with one surgery. Since she was only 15 she had a pediatric ortho who specializes in scoliosis fusions and his adult spine specialist perform her surgery. It took the two of them just over three hours. She was born with spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. At 15 she had the back of an 80 year old woman. So she had to have L4 - S1 fused and the nerve root decompresion for the stenosis.

Her dr was supposed to take bone from her hip, but when he came out after surgery he told me that he used donor bone and mixed it with her own bone from her laminectomy. As a result she had no residual pain at all from a donor site. She has fused nicely. They put in six pedicle screws, rods and the spacers.

Since all of her procedures were done with the fusion, she had the no bending, lifting or twisting rule for six months. It was really rough for her in the first few weeks, lots of nausea, hives from the mophine pump ... After about two weeks she only got better each day. Just remember she was only 15 and healed very quickly as a child. We were both off school for the summer so she had almost three months until she had to return back to school. She was off her pain meds within ten days of surgery which I understand is very unusual.

She was able to drive when she was off of narcotics, but really had no desire to drive until about two months post op because of the twisting involved. Her dr didn't even want her to be a passenger in a car for the first two weeks post op.

She is doing fabulous now. She was cleared to play on the tennis team this past fall as a senior. She ice skates, bowls, goes tubing and is hoping to be cleared to water ski this summer. I'm not looking forward to that. I know down the road she may be facing these problems again if other levels give out, but she's one of the lucky ones who feels great now.

Best wishes for your brother's upcoming surgery. cas

 
Old 01-31-2007, 06:24 PM   #5
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

There are several types of "spacers".. what exactly did you have in mind? Could you be more specific for us?

Tammy
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:54 PM   #6
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

Hi there,

Tammy is right. THere are several different types of spacers. There are cadaver bone spacers (donor bone), metal, titanium etc.
I've had 2 back surgeries in the past year. The first time my screws broke so I then required a 10 hour surgery. During this surgey I received a femoral ring. A femoral ring is cadaver bone that iss hsped into a ring and solid piece that is placed between the discs.
I just found out that my femoral ring has broken. My doctor has many years of experience and is a very well repsected surgeon and he has never had this happen. It apparantly is so rare that he basically didn't know what to tell me and therefore I will be seeing him in 3 weeks to see what we are going to do about it. When I see myAt that time he will do new x-rays to see if anything changed but he is doubtfull of that is is quite sure I will require another surgery to fix it.
It's even almost impossible to find anything useful info online that will help me research but there's squat!
Anyhow I'm sure this is nothing to worry about as it's so rare. I thought I would share this with you as this is what you asked for.
Good luck and take care. Hope all goes well. Beachgirl.

 
Old 02-01-2007, 03:42 AM   #7
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

Desert Bloom,
I'm assuming this spacer is similar to the ones my daughter has. Her dr said they packed the spacer with bone graph. On an xray it shows up as tiny white specks. The screws are titanium so I'm assuming her spacers are too. If your brother is having these spacers put in, I'm assuming he's also being fused. Correct?

My daughter could walk the stairs the day she came home. It took her a while, but she could go up and down once a day to begin with. At three weeks post op she was still feeling tired and after walking she would still take naps. Just as you did, she had difficulty showering. I shaved her legs and tied her shoes for quite a while. She found using a shower chair helped her immensely.

Her TLIF was not minimally invasive. She has an eight inch scar on her back. The healing process there caused her the most trouble. The itching as it healed bugged her a lot. She would always have me rub near the tape and incision. cas

 
Old 02-01-2007, 04:11 AM   #8
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

[COLOR="DarkGreen"][SIZE="3"]\I have spacer's inbetween my L4-L5 disc it looks like 3 dots inbetween my disc's on my xray. I'm not sure what type they are. Mine was done on my second fusion attemp ??

Good luck to your brother [/SIZE][/COLOR]

 
Old 02-02-2007, 04:58 PM   #9
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

My son also had the spacers that the web site shows. Recently one of his doctors (not the one who did the surgery) said that some new statistics out show that spacers are better than cages. Now, I'm just repeating what that doctor said. I have no way of knowing if this data is correct. My son had 3 surgeries within a month so I can't say what the normal length of time is before your brother would be able to go back to work.

 
Old 02-02-2007, 05:44 PM   #10
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

That information helped us alot thank you. I had a minimally invasive posterior fusion done last april at l4/l5. I have 6 incisions, but the muscles were not cut, but dilated through instead. My disc was removed and i have cages and they put some of my bone that they took out of my spine in the cage along with a bone growth protein (infuse BMP), to help promote a better fusion. I also have 2 rods with pedicle screws.

I was in the hospital for two days, went home and was able to go up stairs the first day. I had to or I would not have been able to get into my home. Due to being so tired.. i waited for a few days before tackling the inside stairs (my masterbedroom is on the main level of my home). But the doctor told me other than bending, lifting, twisting, I could do what I wanted and let pain be my guide. He told me I could drive when I was able to safely look about to drive. I really couldnt sit more than 20 minutes without the need to get up and move around for several weeks, then it began to be get a little longer each time.

I doubt think your brother will be able to ride his motorcycle for quite awhile after fusion surgery. It is "possible" for him to return to work at 3 weeks, as there have been a few that I have seen and one went back at 2 weeks, which is phenominal in my opinion. These type of jobs of course are not physical type jobs. The median timeframe return to sedentary work, for one-level fusion is 6-12 weeks. I returned to work at week 7 part-time and work in a law firm. I still have limitations and I am 10 months fused now. I think I will continue to improve as I am still seeing that occur as time goes on, but I think there are just going to be some things I just can't do freely anymore. My polvolting days are over! I am thinking of taking up thumb wrestling now. Just kidding.

Well I still have a bit of a hard time getting on my knees to do things. Reaching up high for things on a shelf.. forget it. I am a handy person around the house home improvement wise, even though I am a petite girl, and much of that is out the window going forward. It's not worth hurting myself over, so I will start to hire it out when/if needed. Like I did the plumbing for a new antique vanity/sink in my master bath not too long before the fusion surgery. I wouldn't even dream of ever tackling something like this going forward.

I doubt I will ever snow ski again, and do these types of sports or any sports for that matter. But I am 45 now and I can live with that. So long as I can stay in decent shape and feel good, what ever I can do, I will make the most of and be content. I am grateful to be walking normally once again, working with as sharp mind again, and I am now going back to school to start my own medical billing business this summer with two others. I am content and happy.

I thought I was gonna be one of those, to be back at work by week 4 and I set my goal on that, but got a quick reality check after the surgery. It kicked my body totally out of whack. It takes time to heal from this major surgery even now, regardless of the new technology out there. Many get fusions and feel like a brand new person. Maybe your brother will be on!

Hope this helps you some. All the best to you and your brother! Tammy
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Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

 
Old 02-03-2007, 07:14 AM   #11
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

Thanks to all of you for your input, especially on the stairs, activities, motorcycle, returning to work, and some of the things you had give up etc. That's what I was looking for. I suppose the surgery hasn't changed that much except for the recovery time and, hospital stay, and the option of having minimally invasive.

Good Luck to you all!!!

 
Old 02-03-2007, 10:14 PM   #12
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Re: Spinal Spacers Question

Ya, the fusion surgery is still fusion surgery, but there are different approaches to it more now. And they are finding ways to not cut into the muscles so much and finding ways to get a better fusion.

But it's still major surgery and many people today seem to think they are getting their wisdom teeth out and will be back out and about in a few short weeks and life is "normal" again. Unfortunately this is so far from the case, and it takes a long time to heal from this surgery.

You are most welcome. How are you doing since your surgery???
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L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

 
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