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  • loss of bladder/bowel after lumbar laminectomy

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    Old 01-30-2015, 06:18 PM   #1
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    loss of bladder/bowel after lumbar laminectomy

    On January 8, 2015 I had a Laminectomy of L2,L3,L4,L5. My symptoms were radiating pain from my buttocks down through my hamstring whenever I coughed, sneezed or standing for 40 minutes or more, no other symptoms. After surgery I could not feel (completely numb) my buttocks, rectum, and genitals. The outside of my left foot is numb but I can walk ok. I can lift my body weight with my left foot. My right leg has no numbness but I cannot lift my body weight with the foot...I have drop-foot. I was sent home with a cane, catheter/foley bag and diapers. During surgery he tore the durasac and repaired it. he said this is common. Yesterday was three weeks since surgery and there has been no improvement. Has anybody had this experience????? I was told by the surgeon I would have one night stay in hospital and home the next day. After three months I would be fully recovered and could go back to doing anything I had done restrictions. I am a non smoker and age 55.

    Surgeon says he is confident it will come back but I am starting to wonder. None of these symptoms existed before the surgery.

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    Old 01-31-2015, 01:28 AM   #2
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    Re: loss of bladder/bowel after lumbar laminectomy

    *Hugs* to you, Upstate!

    This is a very rare and unfortunate risk of any spine surgery. You just never think something like this will happen to you until it does.

    There are several possibilities of what is causing this. You obviously have damage to the nerves supplying the areas affected which happened during surgery. Surgeons will often use small tools to lift nerve roots during surgery so they won't be damaged where they are working, and sometimes the nerve roots become bruised from this or from other work that has been done by the surgeon. It's also less likely that the surgeon actually cut or nicked a nerve root during surgery or while repairing the durasac, but again this is very unlikely. Whether or not you regain feeling and movement in the affected areas will depend on what damage has been done. Please keep in mind that the overwhelming probability here is that the nerve(s) has been bruised vs. cut.

    Chances are high that you will start to see some improvement soon, but nerves heal very, very slowly so it's likely going to take a fair bit of time, possibly even many months. I know this is the last thing you want to hear.

    You had a lot of levels worked on which means your spine in those areas has now weakened significantly, and it's possible that the weakness is now causing your spine to further collapse and is pinching a nerve in the process.

    If it were me, I'd stay in very regular communication with the surgeon - the squeaky wheel saying definitely applies here! Be sure he/she knows exactly how much or how little you are progressing. If you don't start seeing any improvement soon, your surgeon will need to run further tests like MRI's, EMG's, etc. to try finding where and what the damage is. You may need to be assertive, but try not being rude as hard as that may be under the circumstances.

    I've had 6 spine surgeries and 3 of those surgeries were to fix the complications caused by the other 3 surgeries. It's my experience that many doctors brush over the 1-2% (according to them) complication rate that occurs with spine surgeries and make you feel as though there's almost no chance it will happen to you. I really feel for you, and know that we are here thinking of you. I'd really appreciate it if you'd keep us updated on this.

    Old 01-31-2015, 08:23 AM   #3
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    Re: loss of bladder/bowel after lumbar laminectomy

    Two hands gives you some good information. It is very unusual to do a laminectomy on two or more spinal segments without fusing the area. When the lamina is removed to make room for the compressed nerves, it can create instability. When the spine is unstable, spinal nerve roots get pinched.

    I think you need to become more pro active. Since I do not know what kind of relationship you have with your surgeon, it is difficult to make suggestions...but you need to do more than listening to your surgeon tell you that all this is normal and that it will eventually get better.

    It is true that nerves are very sensitive, get annoyed easily when touched or lifted during surgery, etc. but, it is equally true that the longer a nerve is compressed, the greater the chance for permanent damage. Since the surgeon tore the dura and told you this is common, he may be protecting his reputation rather than giving you truthful information. I doubt another surgeon would take a look at your case so soon after surgery, but you need to somehow really keep on top of what is going on.

    Perhaps you could see a neurologist or a physiatrist for an opinion. Be sure to request the operating room notes from your surgery. You can get them by calling the Medical Records office of your hospital where surgery was performed. Make a personal file and make a point of keeping copies of all tests, MRI reports and disks, etc.

    Be sure you take frequent, short walks, around your house if you cannot walk outside. It is important that you do what you can to keep scar tissue from attaching to a nerve while you are recovering...especially during the first twelve weeks post surgery.

    I am really sorry this happened to you. Try to keep positive and stay on top of not sit around and just hope that things will get better.

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    bladder problems, bowel issues, laminectomy & fusion

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