It appears you have not yet Signed Up with our community. To Sign Up for free, please click here....

Back Problems Message Board

Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Post New Thread   Closed Thread
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-24-2012, 11:22 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Union, Boone County, KY USA
Posts: 23
CTWsr HB UserCTWsr HB User
Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Iím looking for some encouragement.

I had de-compressive lumbar laminectomy in May, 2008. I was told by my first (Neural) surgeon after he released me from his care that I should be good-to-go, for life. Unfortunately, after almost two years all of the symptoms (lower back pain, sciatica, etc.) returned.

After soliciting several orthopedic surgeonsí opinions the unanimous conclusion is that I need multi-level (lumbar) fusion surgery. Iíve scheduled surgery for late April of this year.

I asked my surgeon to recommend a good physical therapist that I could work with prior to surgery to help me get in the best physical shape possible without further aggravating my lower back (DDD) and the experiencing the debilitating sciatic pain that goes with doing too much. To that end, Iíve lost and continue to lose weight and have worked hard at strengthening my core.

After trying to research exactly what Iím up against, I found this site. (Understandably) I see many posts of fusion patients whoíve experienced problems.

Any success stories out there?

Also, (Iím 61) whatís the best case scenario for being able to get back to work. As a professional and a business owner, when will I be able start spending some time at my office? Also, donít hesitate give me the real scoop. I just need to know.

Thanks for any and all replies.

Sponsors Lightbulb
Old 02-25-2012, 09:02 AM   #2
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Union, Boone County, KY USA
Posts: 23
CTWsr HB UserCTWsr HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Ps. My fusion is "TLIF L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5 with instrumentaion".

Old 02-25-2012, 10:40 AM   #3
bamabug's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Alabama
Posts: 6
bamabug HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Good luck with your surgery.

I'm having a 3 level, C3-C6, done in mid March.

Old 02-25-2012, 11:58 AM   #4
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Union, Boone County, KY USA
Posts: 23
CTWsr HB UserCTWsr HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Thanks Bama,

Best wishes to you in your surgery.

Old 02-25-2012, 11:59 AM   #5
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 7,943
teteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Welcome to the board. I'm about your age and have had two fusions since turning 58 (my first surgeries ever) so I hope I can answer some of your concerns.

My last surgery was June 2010 when I had a 3 level posterior fusion...I was already fused at L4-L5, but the surgeon added on the two adjacent levels, so I am now fusing at L3-S1. I haven't been x-rayed since June, at which point I was almost completely fused, so I imagine it is complete by now. I mention this so you can see it can take a LONG time for a multi-level fusion to completely fuse and set up solidly.

My first fusion was considered a "success" but it never resolved the issues I had prior to surgery, so in my mind, it was not what I considered a success. But at the time I had it done, there was disagreement among the surgeons I consulted with as to how many levels needed to be done. At the time I was in shock that I needed any fusion at all, so I opted to go with the one level. I figured if it wasn't enough, we could go back in and do the other levels...which is ultimately what ended up happening.

I am going to respond to your questions with answers that are appropriate for a fusion surgery that goes well and does not involve complications, and with times that are considered statistically normal. You may heal slower or may have more or less nerve damage going in, take that into consideration with anything you read on a board like this!

First I commend you for trying to get into good shape prior to having surgery. That is very smart and will help assure a good outcome...particularly if you have done your homework in selecting your surgeon. That pick is the MOST important decision you will make regarding this surgery. Not all surgeons are skilled at doing multi-level choose carefully!

I have not had a laminectomy by itself, so can't really tell you how much more difficult you may find recovery from a multi-level fusion...but there will be a difference.

First, do you know what type of fusion you are having? Will it be open or will they try to do it minimally invasively? Do you know if it is PLIF, ALIF or XLIF?
What type of bone graft will they use? It is important to know this before going in.

I would imagine since you have had a prior laminectomy that they will go in from the back, and probably do a PLIF...but that's just one layman's guess!

In any case, the first week will be difficult, and you should plan on having someone to help out, if possible. How soon you can drive will depend on how long you need pain medications. You will have restrictions on how long you can sit. Do you need to sit if you go back to work?

I do not think my experience was necessarily typical, but I felt really good surprisingly fast after my last fusion. I only took pain meds for the first ten days, and I think that made a big difference in my recovery. My first fusion was actually much more painful and took longer to recovery may be because the discs were left in place with the second surgery, so I didn't need to have a spacer inserted to maintain the disc space.

Anyway, I would have felt OK to go back to work for several hours per day at a month...but I wasn't allowed to sit for more than about 30 minutes at a time at that point.

I felt fairly back to normal by six months, and by a year I thought I was finished with recovery. However, now at 20 months out, I realize that I am still making progress...but I think this would be considered the "fine tuning." Most articles you'll read and information that surgeons pass out indicate that it takes 12 months for the fusion to set up and get strong, and for a patient to get strength levels back, etc. But if things go OK, you will start feeling pretty good by 3 months, and pretty much back to normal (whatever that is ) at 6 months.

A conservative surgeon will tell a patient to count on being off work 6 months...but I think many go back at 3 months. I know people who went back to full-time work at 2 months...but in most cases, it proved to be close to "too much."

I'm happy to answer any questions you might think of. There is a "stickie" post near the top of the first page of the topics on the back board entitled "Post-Op must haves" (or words to that effect...). It is comments of what other patients have found helpful during recovery. You probably won't need 99% of the stuff, but it is useful to read through as it gives you an idea of what life will be like immediately after surgery and in the early weeks.

Most people recommend getting a "grabber" which is great to reach anything you drop so you don't have to bend over. I found a raised toilet seat to be of help...but not everyone needs or wants one. It may depend on one's height. And the final thing I loved was having a satin bottom sheet on the bed. While in the hospital, it was so difficult to reposition myself, and I felt like I was stuck to the bed with velcro. With the satin sheet, it is easier to roll over and to do the "log rolls" for getting out of bed. But with your PT routine, you may be sufficiently strong that this isn't an issue for you.

I realize I was in worse shape before my first surgery than I was at the time of the 2nd I had been doing lots of PT in between the two. Before the first fusion my physical conditioning had really suffered as I couldn't walk or stand for more than a short time for years prior to fusion.

OK, that's it for now. Don't let the stories you read on the board scare you. The patients that had successful outcome do not stay on the what you read is biased toward those unhappy with their results.

I am very, very pleased with the results of my revision. Oops -- I just saw where you're having TLIF. My only words regarding that is be darn sure your surgeon has done the procedure successfully MANY times. Be sure to read online regarding TLIF -- one of the negatives about that approach is that some patients report terrible hip and leg (thigh) pain following surgery. The XLIF approach requires blunt dissection through the psoas muscle and the traversing lumbar plexus. ...So, just be aware of some reading and maybe talk to your surgeon about possible complications and why he feels this is the best surgical procedure for you.

The Following User Says Thank You to teteri66 For This Useful Post:
CTWsr (02-25-2012)
Old 02-25-2012, 02:35 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Union, Boone County, KY USA
Posts: 23
CTWsr HB UserCTWsr HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

Dear tetonteri66

First of all, in perusing this site Iíve seen your very comprehensive replies to numerous posts offering your experiences and knowledge. I know youíre not a doctor, but I can tell youíve done some research. When I ask people who should know for the full scoop, like my physical therapist (whoís a true professional and a great resource) I get reassurance but that look like, ďyou really have no idea what youíre in forĒ. But they never say, ďitís really going to be badĒ or offer much detail. Iím sure youíve heard this before, but your replies are truly meaningful to those of us staring into the abyss.

After my first back surgery, which should have been a fusion according to the doctors that Iíve consulted since, my wife and I decided to get multiple opinions. When we found the doctor we settled on it was initially through an ad on a web page or a local magazine (canít remember) and I did some research on his credentials. They were impeccable, both academically and after. What really convinced me is that on an unsolicited basis, when I explained my back predicament to clients (in one case) and some friends they recommended him, without me even mentioning his name. We both feel as confident as we can probably get.

The bone graft is going to be cadaver. Iím guessing that because of the number of fusions that they canít get enough out of my hip without causing a problem there, but I really donít know for sure.

My doctor (who does minimally invasive) said I donít qualify for minimally invasive because of the previous laminectomy and because of the number of levels to be fused. Also anterior in addition to posterior approach isnít available because of the blood vessels that are in the way. So for me itís posterior only.

My doctor said that I shouldnít plan on going back to my office for at least a month. But after scouting around on this site, Iíve gotten the impression that it takes longer. In my business, I am the business, so the quicker I can become operational, the better. However the reality is that Iíve been working flat on my back for the last 5 months. I literally spend about 75% of my business hours in bed. The other 25% Iím usually meeting with clients in person.

Prior to 5 months ago I was only able to spend about 1 Ĺ to 2 hours at my desk per day because of the pain. I did a Google search for ďkeyboard for bedridden personĒ and found this thing called a ďLaptop-LaidbackĒ that allows me to spend hour after hour working in bed with my laptop. With all of the virtual tools that we have, web meetings, paperless office, etc., I was able to triple my productivity. Iím hopeful that it will prove helpful during my convalescence. If anyone who reads this is confined to bed, but can spend time on their back, I HIGHLY recommend this laptop stand for working in bed. Itís the best $80-$90 that Iíve spent this year. Do you think it will work during my convalescence?

Iíve made copies of your reply to my post and the list in ďpost-surgeryĒ sticky note and forwarded them to my procurement department. Hopefully she wonít divorce me before this is all said and done (just kidding). She did say that if I didnít straighten up she would put me in extended rehab without my iPhone or iPad.

Again, your reply to my post is greatly appreciated.

Old 03-01-2012, 12:15 PM   #7
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Union, Boone County, KY USA
Posts: 23
CTWsr HB UserCTWsr HB User
Re: Multi-Level Fusion Surgery Scheduled for Late April (2012)

This message board has given me the best information of any other resource. All of you that regularly reply are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your input and your wishes.

Last edited by Administrator; 03-01-2012 at 12:34 PM.

Closed Thread

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is Off
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Sign Up Today!

Ask our community of thousands of members your health questions, and learn from others experiences. Join the conversation!

I want my free account

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:12 AM.

Site owned and operated by HealthBoards.comô
Terms of Use © 1998-2016 HealthBoards.comô All rights reserved.
Do not copy or redistribute in any form!