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Old 04-09-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
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Smile What is your experience with immediate post-op with minimally invasive TLIF?

I am scheduled to have this surgery in a few weeks and haven't yet received any instructions for post-op. I would like to hear from anyone who can share their experience with respect to number of days (or weeks) off work, if they could physically bend over, any issues with sitting/rising from chair, toilet, bed, etc. Physical therapy? Use of back brace, cane?

I did see the sticky regarding post-op, and found it helpful, but I'm wondering if that is for the "open" type surgery?

I live alone and need to make plans to have a relative come stay with me - she will need to know exactly how much time she'll need off work to stay with me.

Thank you in advance, your guidance is much appreciated!

 
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:55 PM   #2
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Re: What is your experience with immediate post-op with minimally invasive TLIF?

I was hoping that someone who had TLIF recently would respond, but I didn't want to let any more time go by before welcoming you to the board.

I have had two lumbar fusions, but they were both open surgeries from the back. The main difference between the two is the entry into the spine. TLIF is billed as being easier to recover from because the surgeon does not have to cut the large muscles in the back to access the spine. The rest of the surgery is pretty similar.

TLIF is still a big surgery and recovery tends to be long and slow. Even though you will recover from the surgical aspects in a number of weeks, the fusion itself is not hard and fully set for a year. Depending on any nerve compression you have prior to surgery, it can take even longer for the nerves to regenerate, for the muscles and soft tissue to regain its place in the body and resume functioning as normal.

I think most TLIF patients return to work between six and eight weeks if all has gone well.

How long you will initially be laid up is an individual thing. You don't say how many levels are being done and at what location. If it is lower lumbar, you will not be allowed to bend forward or backward or to twist at the waist. Depending on your strength and conditioning, it may be difficult to sit or even to reposition yourself in the bed at the beginning, when you first get home.

Most people find it helpful to have some help for the first week to ten days. But it varies so much. With my first, one level lumbar fusion I was pretty out of it for the first two weeks, and was on pain meds for 8 weeks post op. With the second, 3-level surgery, I was off all meds at 10 days...so you just never know!

Some surgeons will require the use of a back brace. I have done it both ways (with the brace, and without). You will be given a walker upon discharge. They tend to not use canes as it causes uneven use of the muscles.

You will not be able to drive until after your first check-up which may be anytime from two weeks to six weeks...and it depends on whether you are on pain meds, or not. Most surgeons restrict sitting to 15-20 minutes at a time. Walking will be the most important exercise for at least the first six to eight weeks. Walking in a warm pool is wonderful after your incision is healed.

You should be able to get back to many parts of your daily routine after about 8 weeks' time.

This is just a very general time line....if you have specific questions, please ask.

 
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: What is your experience with immediate post-op with minimally invasive TLIF?

Thank you so much, this is very helpful!

My TLIF will be L3/4 - I'm getting more details on actual procedure end of this week, but your explanations regarding sitting, standing, etc. were invaluable.

thank you again for taking the time to write!

 
Old 04-11-2012, 09:27 AM   #4
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Re: What is your experience with immediate post-op with minimally invasive TLIF?

My experience of that surgery is that I now have a moderate drop foot in the leg that was causing me no problems in the past. The surgery itself went fine, although I did enjoy a bout with pneumonia a couple of days after surgery, but the antibiotics cleared that up. What can't be cleared up is the drop foot. I would rather have the pain than the permananent loss of mobility. I ws taking pain meds prior to surgery and I take them now. The pain is still there, though I believe things are getting better. However, not ever being able to walk normally, jog, or run ever again is not the worth the trade. My advice would be to have a fusion, even a minimally invasive one, only if you can't survive otherwise. If that's not the case, imagine yourself having to wear an AFO for the rest of your life just to walk. That is the case for some, though the great majority sail through with no complications. Just don't think you can't be one of those statistics. Anyone can have negative complications. Fusion is big-time stuff. Think long and hard. Best of luck to you.

 
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