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    Old 03-23-2006, 03:52 PM   #1
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    who's had a LAMINECTOMY?

    Hi all,
    In my search to find a spinal specialist whose diagnosis I prefer, I have gone from being told I had to have a fusion with hardware to just needing a laminectomy. I've done lots of research on the fusion procedure but haven't paid attention to the laminectomy. I have stenosis and spondylolisthesis at L4-L5 which results in sciatic pain when standing and sometimes walking. I am not in pain when sitting or lying down. From what I've read on this board, I don't think my condition is as bad as most who've had fusion. Do most start out with a laminectomy and eventually end up having a fusion? Is it better to get it all over with at one time? Just wondering what others have experienced....thanks.

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    Old 03-23-2006, 04:07 PM   #2
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?


    I can't tell you which way is better, to have the laminectomy first or both together. My daughter was having severe lower back pain, along with terrible leg pain that eventually went to tingling in her feet. First her dr was just going to do a one level fusion of L5-S1 with hardware for her grade II spondy. After the tingling began and he sent her for an mri the stenosis was found. So at that point he decided to do both the laminectomy and now a two level fusion. He's a pediatric ortho so he pulled in his adult spine specialist to assist.

    She is 9 1/2 months post op and is doing fabulous. Her pain has disappeared and the legs no longer hurt her. She went from not being able to sit or stand long to sitting all day at school without any problems. Last year she spent each night lying on the heating pad after school. This year she is off and about all the time.

    We had three opinions, but at that time the stenosis hadn't been diagnosed yet. Each of her ped orthos suggested fusions. She is doing great, but that may be because she is only 16. Or as I forget 17 in a few days. Best wishes making your decision. cas

    Last edited by caszyman; 03-23-2006 at 04:09 PM.

    Old 03-24-2006, 01:47 AM   #3
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?

    Good that your not rushing into anything - and are researching ~
    and most importantly that your choosing to see a true spine specialist.

    As you know spinal surgery of any type, especially fusion -
    is a serious thing to enter into.

    Many of us attempted to obtain relief in the beginning with of course, the lesser surgical options offered us, in hopes this would "be enough" to hopefully correct things enough to lessen the pain and enable us to have a better quality of life.

    It sometimes is difficult and often impossible (even for the surgeons) to know "how much" intervention is either enough, not enough or in a bad scenerio (post operatively) the wrong procedure all together with an end result leaving our spines more unstable that ever.

    This is the balancing game that it seems we play when choosing initially the appropriate decision to make, and the course of surgical intervention that will yield the best results for each of us respectively.

    Many of us here (including me) did have a lami initially -
    I reherniated 6wks post op.
    Many continued to improve and have no other recurrence.

    Sadly there is no magic answer ~ And no two people are the same.

    I honestly don't know if a lami would help your spondylolisthesis -
    thus the opinion that you should consider fusion.

    How is your pain on a daily & consistent basis?
    unless your to the point where your quality of life is suffering and you've exhausted ALL non invasive options possible ~
    you should never ever choose invasive spinal surgery of ANY kind.

    please keep us posted on how things are going and any decisions you come to make


    Last edited by Bionicwan; 03-24-2006 at 02:00 AM.

    Old 03-24-2006, 04:41 AM   #4
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?

    Great responce Bionic, I also had a reherniation, mine was 2 weeks after and had to wait anoher 2 weeks before the redo. I am now post-op 2 years and have the same disc buldging and the same sciatic pain that I started with perhaps more so than the first pain. I just started last week having my 1st steroid injections I don't want to go through that again. The 1st surgery was my last hope, the 2nd surgery knocked me for a loop. I have tried everything, from steroid injections to accupuncture including seeing a chiropractor but alas surgery was my only hope in the end. I am going to see the spine specialist today and see what the Dr has to say. If another surgery is recommended <more than likely fusion> .

    Good luck all,

    Old 03-24-2006, 05:18 AM   #5
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?


    I've had 3 laminectomies, do I win something?

    I had one at L3/4 about 6 years ago. There was a small herniation at L4/5 that was left alone, but it did get bigger. Before the first one at L3/4, I was at the point where I was unable to walk more than a 100 feet or so without having to stop for the pain caused from the disc material pressing on the nerve. Like you, when I was off my feet, there was no problem. I couldn't even stand for more than 5 minutes without breaking into a sweat.

    Well, I was told by one NS that since my herniations were together, I'd have to be fused at L3/4/5. I didn't like that one bit, so I got an appointment with a second NS at a local teaching hospital. He checked me out, had a fellow OSS look at x-rays taken that day, and they both told me that the NS could do another laminectomy WITHOUT fusion and fix the new lumbar problem. So in late 2004 the NS did his thing. He cut in the original incision, and I learned later he used an endoscope to do his thing, and 3 weeks later I returned to work (desk job). He fixed a botched ACDF this January for me and I'm now considering changing my handle. This was actually a cervical lami.


    Old 03-24-2006, 05:29 AM   #6
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?

    Thanks to all who posted. In my case, the laminectomy would be to correct the stenosis. I have a very mild herniation at L3-L4 which apparently isn't the cause of my pain. Bionic, after reading everything on these boards, I do not feel I am anywhere near as bad as most. I can't stand for more than a few minutes before my leg gets tingly and then numb, all the way down to my foot. However, as soon as I sit down or lie down, the pain goes away as does the numbness. And the pain is less than it was during the fall. The sciatic pain does keep me from doing everything I used to do, but it sounds to me like surgery often just makes things worse, or you then need additional surgeries.

    My internist really believes that if I lose 30 pounds and build up my core muscles, it will be enough to take the pressure off. So I am spending almost all my time in physical therapy, aqua therapy and am working with a physiatrist. I joined a club where I can swim (on my back) and walk in the pool, as well as use various machines. I don't feel any worse and I haven't really been doing it long enough to know if it is helping. I've given myself a deadline of June 1st. If I'm "the same" at that time, I will consider having surgery. Does that sound like a good plan?
    Thanks all. I really appreciate all your postings, on my question and across this board....Cynthia

    Old 03-24-2006, 03:23 PM   #7
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    Re: who's had a LAMINECTOMY?

    Your plan sounds good. You really need to exhaust all nonsurgical techniques before considering surgery. With my daughter's spondy she went through three months of pt, three times a week, to build up her core muscles. It at least kept her moving since she was pulled out of all sports. We too joined the Y so she could get in the pool and keep up with the exercising. She wore a brace for three months and then about two more months of pt.

    So I certainly agree with giving everything you can a try. I didn't give in to her having surgery until I knew she had the stenosis and the nerves were involved. I wish you luck at pt and hope this helps you. cas

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