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told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

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Old 07-20-2008, 08:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NC,USA
Posts: 7
SherriX2 HB User
told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Hi newbie here

I have had back pain for years.

After several test,I was told about 2 weeks ago that an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion on L5/S1 would relieve a lot of my pain.L3 & L4 are bad too.(I have DDD in L3 to S1)

Can someone tell me all about the ALIF? Pros and Cons?

I had a complete abdominal hyster. on Oct 1st and 2 c-sections before that,so I have been cut wide open before.

I have 2 children,one is 18 and one is 8.The 18 year old leaves for college in Aug.

I'm trying to figure out the best time to have the ALIF. I do have the 8 yr to take of,I drive her to & from school everyday.The bus to her school doesnt come by our house (school starts up again late aug)

How long will I be out?

I'm going to met with my doc in Oct but I have tons of questions before the meeting so I joined this site

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Old 07-21-2008, 06:25 AM   #2
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,306
BlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB User
Re: told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Hi Sherri, and welcome to the board!

I had a 360 a year and a half ago (ie, they go in from the front, then flip you over and go in again from the back). There's a thread at the top called "Post Surgery Tips" that helped me a lot! It's well worth reading! My best tips are to get a good quality grabber tool (it will be worth its weight in gold your first day home!) and to get a satiny type bottom sheet for your bed. It will enable you to slide to turn instead of having to fight friction or lift yourself. You'll have much less pain! I also got slippery pj's. The slippery sheet and slippery pj's made turning a breeze! Put a plastic garbage bag on the seat of the car for the ride home, for the same reason. And put a large zip lock bag in the car in case you get nauseous. You can zip in the mess and no one will have to clean anything up. Also get yourself a little notebook to keep track of your meds. You'll be on heavy pain meds for a while, and it's really easy to lose track of what you took and when. If you write it down, you won't be over medicating or under medicating yourself. And just a word about those meds: keep up your pain meds, especially for the first several weeks. You may even need to set an alarm so you don't miss a dose at night. Once the pain gets ahead of you, it's a lot harder to get back under control. Don't try to be a hero and not take the meds. I guarantee that no one will give you any medals for that! You and your family will be a lot happier if you're properly medicated!

You won't be able to drive for a while. I was told no driving for 6 weeks, but even at 6 weeks, I wasn't really up to it. I only drove when I absolutely had to. Are you able to have someone else drive your daughter for a while? Please, don't try to drive her while you're on heavy meds and groggy, and don't try to drive before your doctor clears you for it.

This is a huge surgery with a long recovery time. You're going to need to rest. You'll spend most of the first month in bed, and maybe most of the second month, too. You're going to watch a lot of movies! Time to join one of those movies-by-mail programs!

If you read that thread at the top, you'll get an idea of what to expect from this surgery. I'm so glad I did it! It was a long, hard recovery, but it was worth it!

If you have other questions, we'll do our best to help you. I wish you the best!


Old 07-21-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Aurora,KY USA
Posts: 516
kyma3 HB User
Re: told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Hi Sherri
First of all welcome to the board and you will get great help here from so many people and you just did from Emily.

I had the 360 fusion done in two separate surgeries--first part the abdominal was done on Jan.29,2008 and the back part was done on March 5th. As you can see that was 4 months ago and even though I am much better then pre-surgery I still have days that I just don't feel good and don't do much. I was told by my physician 3 weeks after my last surgery that I could drive but he didn't recommend it and I didn't because I knew I couldn't. I still do not drive very often unless I have to go to the doctor and no one else can take me. I am older (59 yrs old) so I don't have the responsibility of small children so I was lucky that I could not do anything if I didn't want to. I will not lie to you it is a tough surgery and like Emily said take your medication as prescribed because if that pain gets ahead of you it is really rough. My neurosurgeon does not believe in physical therapy although they did say it would be good if I could do water aerobics which I do in my own pool and it is great but have to watch myself that I don't overdo. I also did not have to wear a brace which I was thankful for but others will let you know about theirs. I also have DDD and had 2 surgeries on my cervical spine and this past L5/S1 surgery along with hysterectomies and gall bladder surgery, too. This spinal surgery took a lot out of me but of course I am older, too.

Take care and ask away and someone will be able to help you.


Old 07-21-2008, 02:12 PM   #4
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Missouri
Posts: 2,128
carol632 HB User
Re: told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Hello Sherri. You've gotten some very good advice to which I just want to add one thing. Since you have other deteriorated discs in your back, I think you should get at least one more opinion before going ahead with the surgery. You didn't say just what the problem is with L3 and L4 or if they cause you any pain but still, a second opinion is good to have even if all discs are good but one. Surgery is a big thing to go through and it's just wise to be absolutely certain that it's the right thing to do and that at least 2 doctors agree on the surgery needed. Should a 2nd doctor disagree with the 1st, then a 3rd opinion is needed.

I know that sounds like a lot of to-do, but I do think it's important; I also hope that other measures have been tried to get you relief as I believe it's important to try every option possible.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck with your decisions and hope all goes well for you.

2 lami's, 3 fusions
bone spur removal
cerv. fusion, 1 level
morphine pump

Old 07-22-2008, 09:08 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NC,USA
Posts: 7
SherriX2 HB User
Re: told I needed an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

[COLOR="Purple"]Thank you all for the advice.I just don't know what to do yet.I have had DDD in L3 to S1 for a while,but when I had my TAH BSO last Oct,my pain has gotten so much worse.I tried the spinal pain shots (might in do it again,maybe the will work this time)

I had a Discography done that told them that L3 & 4 cause me pain,but L5/S1 cause much,much more pain

I have had 7 operations (8 if u count the discography ) the last in Oct ,07 the abdominal hyster took about 2-3 months to get over BUT it put me sudden menopause that flipped my body out(only 38 years old).My family went though a Lot then,I couldn't really do anything for 8 weeks.And now I'm going to have to go through this all again.

I want the pain to stop,I am confused and I need people to talk to about my back problem and hopefully help me make up my mind.

I was thinking of getting a second opinion,how do I do that.I don't want to hurt the other ones feeling.I looked him up on line,he's pretty.But I do need another site to check up on him.**REMOVED***[/COLOR]

Last edited by Mod08; 07-23-2008 at 05:26 AM. Reason: The PM features have been turned off for this site.

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