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Old 01-19-2013, 07:41 AM   #1
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Fusion Surgery

Hello,

After many years of back problems 1994 to present 3 - surgeries, countless ESIs, and PT we have scheduled the Hail Mary fusion surgery! I'm having a 3 level lumbar fusion l3/4, l4/5, and l5/s1, I sure hope it works. I'm a little nervous to say the least. Currently all the disc have grade 5 disc tears, disc degeneration, and facet joint issues. L3/4 & l4/5 have ruptured numerous times over the years and s1 isn't lookn very healthy. I was hoping to hear others experience with this surgery. February is fast approaching and I'm trying to get prepared. Thanks in advance for your responses.

 
Old 01-19-2013, 09:03 AM   #2
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Re: Fusion Surgery

Welcome to the board. Since you have had several previous surgeries, I am going to presume that you feel your spine surgeon is the best trained, experienced spine surgeon that is available to you, and you are convinced of the need for this fusion....?

How is this surgery being done? Is it an interbody fusion? From the back, front or side? What type of bone graft is being used? What have you been told about recovery? Have you had a previous fusion?

I had a similar surgery in June of 2010 and am pleased to say it has worked out very well. I regarded it as my last opportunity to resolve my issues before having to turn to what I regarded as the last resort, a neurostimulator. As a result, my surgeon, his physical therapist and I agreed that we would take rehab very slowly so as to never cause a flare up in the sciatic nerve.

I was told before the surgery that if I played golf or tennis, I would probably notice the difference in mobility after I was fused. I didn't, and I actually notice very little difference, but I tend to be very flexible. Of course I cannot arch my back very much or bend backwards too far...but those aren't things I need to do so it doesn't bother me. I am not aware that anything is "in there" other than for the first 15 months or so I was very sensitive to cold. That doesn't seem to be a problem any longer.

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. I don't know what specific details you may want to hear about, so will await your reply.

 
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:20 AM   #3
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Re: Fusion Surgery

Thanks for your response, PLIF surgey with instrumentation.

 
Old 01-19-2013, 09:24 AM   #4
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Re: Fusion Surgery

That's what I had with my first fusion... the second fusion left the discs in at L3-L4 and L5-S1, removed the screws and rods at L4-L5 and put in
longer rods, screws and laid in the bone graft along the edges.

Do you have specific questions?

 
Old 01-19-2013, 09:59 AM   #5
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Re: Fusion Surgery

[QUOTE=teteri66;5119639]That's what I had with my first fusion... the second fusion left the discs in at L3-L4 and L5-S1, removed the screws and rods at L4-L5 and put in
longer rods, screws and laid in the bone graft along the edges.

Do you have specific questions?[/QUOTE]

Mostly just in general experiences with fusion, I'm also having cadaver bone.

 
Old 01-19-2013, 11:58 AM   #6
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Re: Fusion Surgery

There is a "stickie note" near the top of the page that is entitled something like "Post-surgery Must-Haves" that is a list of practically anything and everything people found useful to have post surgery. You might want to read through it to get an idea of what your life will be like in recovery. Most of the items are not essential...

Most people find it helpful it have someone stay with them for the first week or two. It is not absolutely necessary as they will not let you go home unless you are able to take care of your basic needs, but, it is helpful.

My two fusion experiences were very different from one another. The first (L4-L5) was much more difficult. I was practically comotose for the first two weeks. In retrospect, I think I was over-medicated. It was the first surgery I had ever had and I didn't realize it. I barely remember my time in the hospital except that I was in great pain with a new pain that developed post surgery when the physical therapist was working with me.
I was not able to read, watch TV or use the computer as I couldn't focus or hold my attention. I'm sure that was due to the pain meds.

With my second fusion, which was my third lumbar surgery, everything was easier except for the surgery which was much more complex and involved some reconstruction. By the 4th day my nerve pain went away and I stopped taking all medications on the 10th day. I felt so much better that my family had a hard time holding me down to the recovery routine. I wanted to go out to lunch, etc. and I wasn't supposed to be riding in a car yet. To this day I have no idea what accounted for the differences in experience.

While it is interesting to hear about other patients' experiences, it is of minimal usefulness. I think it is important to know that this is a big surgery with a long, slow recovery period....and to know that it does not return your spine to its original condition prior to onset of injury or pain. Some people have unrealistic expectations going into spine surgery.

 
Old 01-20-2013, 01:19 AM   #7
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Re: Fusion Surgery

Thanks, I have read that information and certainly some good advice. After you finally healed up we're you able to return to normal activities? Say for instance putting boxes back in the attic, mowing the lawn, landscaping, etc.... It would be horrible for me to have to rely on someone else with such things after the surgery.

 
Old 01-20-2013, 09:07 AM   #8
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Re: Fusion Surgery

I can do most activities but I have to be smart and listen to my body. My surgeon allowed me to garden this past summer -- I got a bit carried away and ended up planting 7 smallish trees. But I have to pace myself, and stop when I feel my back start to tighten up or if I get a jolt of pain. Then I know I've done enough for the day and I don't try to get just a bit more done...I stop and go in, lie on the floor and rest my back.

Once you are completely healed, the bone graft becomes stronger with exercise. But you can't try to rush recovery and try to do everything before the fusion is complete and the new bone has had a chance to grow strong and hard. This is usually at about twelve months that this process is complete.

 
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