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Old 01-13-2012, 06:44 PM   #1
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Nervous About XLIF

This past Tuesday my doctor suggested that I receive the XLIF surgey. I have two herniated dics and one collapsed disc, all in my lumbar region. He said it is requiring for 3 spacers to be inserted. Other than a C-Section, I've never had any surgeries and I'm particularly scared and nervous about this. I've never been completely under anesthesia before and I'm paranoid over the thought of my spine being manipulated. I've had the injury for a while and it's gone untreated until now. I have nerve damage in my leg and foot causing numbness and pain. My legs have become so weak to the point where I cannot bear weight and cannot stand or walk on my own. My doctors assure that I will feel like a new women after my surgery but I can't seen to shake these jitters. Does anyone have any advise?

 
Old 01-14-2012, 02:12 AM   #2
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

i just had plif surgury this past week and i wont lie it was rough i had a one level this time my previous was two level..it just takes everything out of you.. but after the recovery room my leggs and feet felt so much better .i have alot of surgical pain but that feels good cause i no longer have the sciatica pain..u will find the first few days tough but it does get better..i wish you the best of luck..

 
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:06 PM   #3
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

Welcome to the board. Before entering into any surgical procedure, it is a good idea to do your homework...both on the surgeon that is suggesting the surgery and the surgery itself. Usually it is a good idea to get opinions from several spine surgeons before proceeding with such a life-changing event.

Just from your brief description of your symptoms, it does sound like you need surgery. It is not good to leave a nerve compressed for too long, as it can cause permanent damage to the nerve. But, on the other hand, most spine surgeries are not considered a medical emergency, so you can afford to take a bit more time to be sure you are making the right decision.

First, you want to be sure you are going to a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or neurosurgeon. You want to be sure the doctor devotes his practice to issues of the neck and back only. You want to check out the doctor's education and training. Then you need to do a lot of reading about the XLIF procedure...and find out how experienced the surgeon is with this particular way to do a fusion.

XLIF is a relatively new procedure. Unfortunately many surgeons tend to only acquaint their patients with the positive things about XLIF...that it is less invasive than a traditional fusion, that they don't have to cut through bone or muscle, that the recovery is less painful and quicker, etc. They usually fail to inform the patient that there are also potential problems/issues connected to this procedure...and that since it is so new, even though it is approved by the FDA, there is no long-term data on or, maybe I should say, data on the long-term outcome of XLIF.

You may indeed feel like a completely new woman as your surgeon promised. On the other hand, you could just as easily be one of the patients who ends up with permanent damage to the thigh and/or the psoas muscle.

You can type XLIF into the search box at the top of the page and some older threads will come up that you might want to read...others experiences with XLIF.

It is normal to be nervous about facing such a big surgery. Just try to go into it with your eyes wide open. Do not just take the surgeon's word that everything will turn out great. Know what your options are, what the potential complications there are, etc. There are a number of surgeries that will accomplish the same goal of stabilizing the spine.

 
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

My doctor is a Spine surgeon and he only works on patients with neck and back problems. He seems to have all the experience but I guess since it's all moving so fast I just feel like its a lot to take in. I'm young but I've been dealing with back problems for years. Now that I'm finally getting help I'm kinda taken back with how serious the situation has become. I've read threads on here and on other sites and about 50% of people have had a bad experience. I guess my biggest fears are not having a successful surgery and having continuing problems and going under anesthesia. I know some people go under and never wake up.

 
Old 01-15-2012, 12:43 PM   #5
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

[QUOTE=danb1021;4910640]i just had plif surgury this past week and i wont lie it was rough i had a one level this time my previous was two level..it just takes everything out of you.. but after the recovery room my leggs and feet felt so much better .i have alot of surgical pain but that feels good cause i no longer have the sciatica pain..u will find the first few days tough but it does get better..i wish you the best of luck..[/QUOTE]

what was the worst part? your time in the recovery room or being on your own at home?

 
Old 01-15-2012, 02:58 PM   #6
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

You won't remember your time in the recovery room....but you will remember your recovery once you get home...and during the following twelve months, which is approximately how long it takes for the new bone to completely fill in and to harden up.

I hope you will have some help at home for the first several days. While it is usually not absolutely necessary, it is very useful.

 
Old 01-16-2012, 05:54 AM   #7
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

well i have been home for 2 days now and it's tough..always in pain..try to rely on everyone to help you with the simple tasks like raise the toilet seat up or down..my wife made sure she left things high so i dont have to bend..the on ething that good is i dont feel my sciatica pain that i had prior to my surgury.all these new pain from the surgury will go away..of course im on my pain meds the whole day because i do need them but i know i will be better soon...

 
Old 01-16-2012, 01:05 PM   #8
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

For anyone reading through these posts, please note that one poster had his fusion through the posterior access...he had a PLIF. The original poster's doctor wants to do a XLIF, which is a "minimally invasive" surgery that goes in through the side. While all the initials are confusing, and the surgeries sound similar, they each carry their own unique set of potential problems.

The XLIF is a relatively new procedure and many surgeons do not have all that much experience with it. Because it is done from the side, it is supposed to disturb fewer back muscles. The problem is that the surgical site is accessed through the side, and it often involves the psoas muscle. Patients often end up with horrible groin pain and often a numb thigh. In most patients these side effects eventually go away, but some patients have been left with permanent numbness in the thigh and permanent nerve damage.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone that one procedure is better than the other. I just want people to go into it being aware that there are side effects and it is often not as easy a recovery as some surgeons seem to indicate.

Because the surgery has only been approved by the FDA for a few years, and some insurance carriers refuse to cover the expense, calling it "experimental", no one really knows what the long-term effects of XLIF are. It is apparent that the number of lawsuits went way up in 2011, as more surgeries are now being done and more patients are complaining of the leg and groin pain and nerve damage.

My point is: if anyone is considering having XLIF, please discuss it with your surgeon and ask about the potential risks and complications. Don't take the doctor's word that it is an easy surgery and you'll be back to normal in no time. Any spine surgery changes a patient's life forever. (well, if not their life, at least their back!!)

 
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

well said!!!!!

 
Old 01-17-2012, 05:04 PM   #10
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

My sister has convinced me to get a second opinion. She's going to help me find another doctor who can see me as soon as possible. I usually don't like putting things off but I'm taking your words to heart. This is a serious surgery that will effect the rest of my life and I want to make sure I'm making the right decision.

 
Old 01-17-2012, 06:48 PM   #11
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

That's a great idea. If you live in a smaller city, you might want to travel to a larger one. It is really important to find the very best surgeon that is available to you. This is really the most important decision you will make, other than deciding to have a fusion.

If you have seen a neurosurgeon, you might want to consult with an orthopedic spine surgeon...or, vice versa. They have similar training but often approach things slightly differently.

 
Old 01-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #12
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

Hey Stacey,

I know how you feel because I'm going to have surgery on the 31st. I had a L5/S1 fusion almost 18 years ago because of a fragmented disk, stenosis and severe sciatica. I immediately felt better, even with the post-surgical pain. The sciatica was gone, and my life restarted. It sucked to be half-crippled at 33. I knew that eventually I'd end up having the next level done, but I had a lot of good years. You really need to weigh the quality of life you have now with what you'll have after you recover. Can you go on the way you are? It's probably going to get worse if the standard treatments didn't work. Did you try injections, massage, all that stuff?

I'm really ambivalent, too. After 6 orthopedic/neuro surgeries I know that major surgery is painful and boring, but mostly I hate having to rely on other people to help me do things. My husband is a saint but I would really rather shave my own legs

BTW, I had a C5/C6 foraminotomy in August. It was a day surgery. I took two weeks off work, but didn't even really need that. I waited until my left arm was two inches smaller around the forearm and I couldn't get my arm through a sleeve anymore. I waited because I had the same surgery 17 years ago, and remember horrible muscle spasms and pain. If i had known it was going to be such a minor thing, I would have done it a year ago.

So, I'm going ahead with the back. THe neuro has to take out my old screws and put in new hardware from L4-S1. I'm hoping that new techniques will make this less painful than the last. I have a bunch of books, a laptop, and a new HDTV so maybe the boredom won't turn me into a turnip. But what will really keep my spirits up is knowing that next summer I will be riding my bike, going for hikes and playing frisbee with my son.

Good luck to you making your decision Make a list of the pros and cons and weigh them. Get other opinions and try to wade through nebulous doctor-talk and find out what they think the most likely outcome will be. They tread carefully in what they promise for legal reasons, but you can usually get a good idea. Many doctors will err on the side of negativity. I've always had good results from surgery, better than what i'm supposed to expect (although I might just be lucky).

 
Old 01-01-2013, 09:16 AM   #13
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Re: Nervous About XLIF

Hello werdnerd, did you go through with your surgery regarding L4-S1? I am having severe issues with that region and any information regarding people undergoing surgery for similar problems would be greatly appreciated. Best of luck,

saltmine


[QUOTE=werdnerd;4915495]Hey Stacey,

I know how you feel because I'm going to have surgery on the 31st. I had a L5/S1 fusion almost 18 years ago because of a fragmented disk, stenosis and severe sciatica. I immediately felt better, even with the post-surgical pain. The sciatica was gone, and my life restarted. It sucked to be half-crippled at 33. I knew that eventually I'd end up having the next level done, but I had a lot of good years. You really need to weigh the quality of life you have now with what you'll have after you recover. Can you go on the way you are? It's probably going to get worse if the standard treatments didn't work. Did you try injections, massage, all that stuff?

I'm really ambivalent, too. After 6 orthopedic/neuro surgeries I know that major surgery is painful and boring, but mostly I hate having to rely on other people to help me do things. My husband is a saint but I would really rather shave my own legs

BTW, I had a C5/C6 foraminotomy in August. It was a day surgery. I took two weeks off work, but didn't even really need that. I waited until my left arm was two inches smaller around the forearm and I couldn't get my arm through a sleeve anymore. I waited because I had the same surgery 17 years ago, and remember horrible muscle spasms and pain. If i had known it was going to be such a minor thing, I would have done it a year ago.

So, I'm going ahead with the back. THe neuro has to take out my old screws and put in new hardware from L4-S1. I'm hoping that new techniques will make this less painful than the last. I have a bunch of books, a laptop, and a new HDTV so maybe the boredom won't turn me into a turnip. But what will really keep my spirits up is knowing that next summer I will be riding my bike, going for hikes and playing frisbee with my son.

Good luck to you making your decision Make a list of the pros and cons and weigh them. Get other opinions and try to wade through nebulous doctor-talk and find out what they think the most likely outcome will be. They tread carefully in what they promise for legal reasons, but you can usually get a good idea. Many doctors will err on the side of negativity. I've always had good results from surgery, better than what i'm supposed to expect (although I might just be lucky).[/QUOTE]

 
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