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Old 08-24-2009, 08:50 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
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jenj770 HB User
Successful back surgery?

Does anyone have a sense of an approximate percentage of successful back surgeries? From what I see on this board, it appears that many people have lingering issues with broken hardware, continuing pain and such after their surgery.

Old 08-24-2009, 09:25 AM   #2
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Re: Successful back surgery?

Well, it depends on what you mean by successful. If you mean completely pain free, the percentage goes down. I consider my surgery successful, but I still take Vicodin everyday and will for the rest of my life. I'm also now disabled, after pushing through my pain since I was 14. My problems were made worse when I got osteoporosis in my early 40's. I'm now 51.

Fusion surgery is typically considered successful in about 97% of cases.

Keep in mind that the people here on the board are those who have had complications, subsequent problems, unsuccessful fusions, etc. Those who we all consider successes are off living their lives, working full time jobs, going out with friends, driving kids to soccer games, and all that stuff. They have no reason to be hanging around here anymore. I've seen dozens and dozens of people pass through here, have their surgery, and move on once they've healed, usually never to post again. Yay for them! That's the goal! We here are in the small percentage that continues to have problems. We seem like a large percentage because the "successes" aren't here!

If you're considering surgery, make sure you get more than one opinion from doctors in different groups.

I wish you the best,

Last edited by BlueAtlas; 08-24-2009 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Emily cawnt spel taday.

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Old 08-24-2009, 09:46 AM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2007
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jenj770 HB User
Re: Successful back surgery?

Thanks Emily!

I have obtained various opinions. What is your opinion hardware versus bone fusion - L5-SI?

Thanks mightily.


Old 08-24-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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Re: Successful back surgery?

The hardware is used to support the area while a fusion is getting underway. It can take up to a year for a good, strong fusion to grow, so the hardware is there to keep things from shifting in the meantime. It's really not an either/or type of thing. Occasionally, a doctor will do a fusion and not put in hardware, but usually they do. But I've never heard of putting hardware along the spine without doing a fusion.

It's a tough decision, but if you decide to go ahead with it, don't second guess yourself. Remind yourself of all the reasons you made the decision and just stick with it. If you really need the surgery, you'll be so glad to get it over with and be on the road to recovery!

If you have other questions, please ask. And you might want to read the sticky at the top called. "post surgery tips". It will give you an idea of what to expect after the procedure. I've had two fusions, 30 years apart, and both helped me tremendously. I'd make the same decisions again in a heartbeat if I had to go back and do it all over again.


Old 08-26-2009, 06:01 AM   #5
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nancy94011 HB User
Re: Successful back surgery?

Hello jenj770,

I am nearly 4 weeks post op from my surgery and although it may be a bit early to tell I am considering my surgery a success.

Over the last 4 years, I have had trouble and pain with my back and neck after a very bad car accident in 2005. I was diagnosed with herniated discs at C3/C4 and C4/C5, which were causing some real pain and numbness in my right arm and some weakness as well. -- That’s the neck. In my lumbar region, the MRI showed a Herniated Disc at L3-4, which was causing a lot of pain and numbness in my backside and my left leg, also weakness there.

I saw 3 different specialists (one Neurosurgeon & two spine surgeons) over the last 3 years and all of them have recommended fusion surgery. So, I finally had it done at the end of July and since my surgery, the pain in my back is all but gone and in my neck, it is much better now and seems to be getting better by the week so I am very, very happy so far with the outcome.

Do your research and ask, ask, ask lots of questions before making your decision and please feel free to ask my anything about my surgery or the post-op recovery.

Good luck


Old 08-26-2009, 08:48 AM   #6
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lemonflavor HB User
Re: Successful back surgery?

It sounds like you're asking about fusion surgery. I've read and been told all sorts of numbers. My back surgeon's PA said about 50% get significant relief.

Microdiscectomy on the other hand is different. Anywhere from 70-90% get significant relief.

Significant relief can be from a pain score of 8 down to 4 for example.

My microdiscectomy was a success but I have other problems too not because of the surgery as far as I know.

And fusion can help one problem but possibly make another worse. There are so many variables.

Old 08-26-2009, 08:45 PM   #7
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Re: Successful back surgery?

One major factor is how many levels will be fused. More levels fused generally equates less success. When two or more levels are fused, that part can't bend anymore. So, all the stress of what you do is put above and below the fusioned area. This leads to a lot of complications after surgery (what I'm going through right now-two years out). Most journals state that 1/3 of patients get better, 1/3 stay the same, and a 1/3 get worse after a non-complicated spinal fusion.--janiee08

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