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3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

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Old 03-18-2010, 02:27 PM   #1
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Erika6396 HB User
Question 3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

I am pending my third fusion (T7 - bottom of sacrum) because the previous two failed. The first one fusion snapped, with stunning force, two years after surgery. The second surgery was worse. All the hardware had to be removed and replaced, spinal fluid leaked, and post op 7 day wild hallucinogenic tour was interesting. Knowing you're hallucinating and being unable to stop it was an unusual experience. A year and a half after the second fusion and separate cage surgery one of my rods snapped, again with stunning force. So now I'm waiting for the third surgery and am concerned with ongoing failure.

Does anyone have any experience with fusion this extensive or repeated fusions due to failure.

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Old 03-19-2010, 07:47 AM   #2
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Re: 3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

I have some limited experience, but I have more of the same type of questions rather than answers. Five weeks ago I had a previous L3-S1 fusion extended to T10-S1. Two weeks later they had to re-do the fusion as the clamps holding the old and new rods together broke. So my experience is very limited. When you say the fusion snapped with stunning force, what exactly did you mean? Were you trying to move your back in a way you don't normally move and it just snapped? Or were you not doing anything out of the ordinary when it snapped? I cannot remember anything specific on why my fusion extension failed. As a matter of fact I think it never was solid and I woke up from the first surgery with it being that way.

I'm concerned about how these extensive fusions are held together and if we have to be very careful in how we move. My surgeon thinks the way he fixed my problem will be stong enough for me to not have any limitations once the fusion is solid. I was concerned about that before I read your posting and now I'm wondering even more. Sorry I don't have any answers to your questions -- I'll be looking for anyone else's responses to this posting too.

Good luck with your next surgery. I've had nine spinal surgeries, so I have some knowledge of what it's like to go through this time after time. Keep us informed.

Old 03-19-2010, 09:15 AM   #3
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Re: 3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

[COLOR="Navy"]I am fused from T9 to my sacrum. I had gone in for a 3 level disc replacement. The day after surgery when they got me up to walk, my back broke above the fusion. I won't bore you with the details of that week. but the next week, when they figured out why I was in so much unrelenting pain, I was rushed back to surgery. They took out the old hardware and put in two 15" titanium rods and 20 screws. So now I am totally fused. I don't bend like normal people. I have a weight limit of 30 lbs, but i find that even at 20 my back gets a little testy. I don't twist around anymore. You learn to turn your whole body. It certainly isn't what I planned for. I will also live in some degree of pain for the rest of my life. So now I see a PM every month for meds. If you have ?s, please ask, or Pm me and we'll chat.

good luck![/COLOR]

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Old 03-19-2010, 01:26 PM   #4
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Re: 3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

I'm fused T4-S1. Like IBake, I don't bend or twist. I have to be very careful and have a 10 pound lifting restriction. If I lift more than that, I can feel it. I'll have worse pain for several days and I'm always afraid I may do permanent damage if I overdo it.

For me, though, this was definitely a good move. I have a lot less pain than I had before. I'll always have pain, but it's not nearly as bad as it was before my surgery. I'm thankful every day that I had this surgery!

Were you told that you had fused prior to the hardware breaking? If you hadn't fused, I guess the stress to the hardware must have caused the breaks. Is your doctor planning to do anything to help fusion get going? My doctor used BMP (a synthetic bone protein that is packed around the area during surgery) and gave me a bone growth stimulator to wear externally. He also used the 360 approach, that is, going in through both the back and front. It's a harder surgery, but it has a higher success rate.

If you smoke, you definitely need to stop while you're trying to fuse. Also, avoid all NSAIDS like ibuprofen. Smoking and NSAIDS are shown to interfere with the fusion process.

I hope the third time's a charm for you. Hang in there!


Old 03-19-2010, 10:41 PM   #5
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Re: 3rd Very Extensive Spinal Fusion (2 failed)

Have they given you any reason for repeated hardware failure?
Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

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