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    Old 03-01-2008, 06:02 PM   #1
    bw67
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    before you have fusion surgery!

    hey-

    I use to come on here all the time. I had disc herniations at C5/6 and C6/7 that caused tremendous pain in my right arm.

    I was told by doctor after doctor that fusion was my only option. I was 38 at the time, and I just did not feel like fusion was the way to go for me. That once you have fusion, once you REMOVE something, there is no turning back. And with the continued advancements in medical technology, I wanted to explore every option out there short of fusion...

    I chose a minimally invasive option with Dr. Merrill Reuter at Advanced Orthopedics of South Florida in Lake Worth Florida- just outside of West Palm Beach. He went in through the front of my neck- there is NO scar- removed the nucleus of the troubled discs, lasered shut the herniations/tears, and then injected a gel made of my blood platelets to "pump" the discs back up.

    I am happy to report that nearly 18 months later, I continue to do great. I get a deep tissue massage on my shoulders and neck once every 4-6 weeks and that's it.

    I know some people swear by fusion, say that it was the best thing they ever did. And I know that every diagnosis/situation is different.

    But after 18 months I continue to come on this board now and again, and it is soooo frustrating to read post after post of people in pain, and people who have had multiple fusions and STILL have trouble.

    I just want to encourage people to consider minimally invasive options before going down the fusion path. I think if you ask around, and scour the internet, you will find that there are more and more doctors scattered throughout the country who are offering this option.

    I wish all of you the best of luck in your pursuits of a PAIN FREE LIFE!!

    Take care

    BW

    Last edited by bw67; 03-02-2008 at 12:55 PM.

     
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    Old 03-01-2008, 09:07 PM   #2
    lfoster21
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    Wink Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    I appreciate that you have come back to check in and give your advice to others. For me, I wish I had know about the minimally invasive procedure. I am one who had 2 fusions and neiter of them worked. So, I am in chronic pain with Arachnoditis (possibly because of the surgeries) and will have this for the rest of my life.

    I am glad you are doing so well and I hope others will look into the type of procedure that you were able to have.

    Best of luck,
    Lorie
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    Old 03-05-2008, 01:33 PM   #3
    bw67
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    thanks lorie- sorry to hear you're still having trouble. your experience is exactly why I chose not to go the fusion route.

    I know most of the "success stories" get on with their lives and off of this site, but it is still so disappointing to read that SO many people have repeat problems like yourself.

    what part of Northern Virginia? I grew up in Vienna...

    bw

    Last edited by bw67; 03-05-2008 at 01:34 PM.

     
    Old 03-05-2008, 01:58 PM   #4
    lfoster21
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    Wink Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Im in Centreville, not far for Vienna. Unfortunately, I had never heard of the minimally invassive procedure, until a year of so later. I started to see it more on these boards. I asked my surgeon about it, after my 1st surgery, and he said that he didn't know exactly what I was talking about, but that he did not do a minimally invasive fusion. I think I just described it wrong, since I had only read about it from 1 post. Since then, I have read about it more.

    Have a good day,
    Lorie
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    Old 03-05-2008, 05:05 PM   #5
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    It is wonderful to hear your good news! How terrific. I try to remind people I chat with that not all problems are equal and the dx will influence the outcome. Minimally invasive surgeries are good for certain kinds of issues - and not for others. It's a confusing thing that we all have been through to weed through what we are supposed to do.

    Most of the people that are here do try to recommend to new people to search non-invasive path, and may have even gone down that path before. The studies do prove your point that many people with less complicated dx will do very well using a mininmally invasive approach. Versus most people that are still here have had significant cord compression, nerve root compressions, slippage, ossification , significant stenosis and other more difficult issues that cannot be treated minimally invasive ways, nor will they be certain to have full recovery via any method. There are many people that had more simple cases and had acdf and still check in here, they too are also well.

    I think in many cases the doctors were not good at communicating outcome prospects, or we just don't listen or hear or even understand. However, many going through fusion surgeries have headed off more serious problems. Pain is also a complication of these problems. Even with very successful surgery a person's make-up will be part of the determination of what the long term prospects are for pain free life. If a person has bad degenerative disease and stenosis or genetics to this stuff this will also influence their outcome.

    For your case, I am so happy for you that you are well and living life. I hope you keep coming back posting continued success, it is good to hear positive stories!

     
    Old 03-08-2008, 11:34 AM   #6
    Jeff59
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Greetings Everyone:

    I was in a MVA 10-07-2007. After months of Chropractic care and PT and Massage I still have constant numbness in my left forearm, hand and thumb/index finger. My right arm is typically numb from the shoulder down upon waking then goes away. Sometimes my left leg goes numb from sitting at the computer from the hip down. Aside from neck injuries I ripped tendons in my left thumb and dislocated my lunate. I have found out that I also have Carpul Tunnel in both hands.

    I finally had an MRI and am consulting with both a Neurologist as well as a MicroNeuroSurgeon. I did not respond to steroid treatment and was told that if I want to get out of misery that surgery is the way to do this. They want to do an ACDF C3-C4-C5.

    I have spent many hours reading posts on this forum and not found any success stories. I found myself becoming very discouraged and now am more frightened about surgery than ever. I don't want to be improper with regard to rules on posting but I also looked at the LSI website in Tampa and read the testimonials and became more encouraged or hopeful that they might offer something different. Can anyone comment on ACDF's that have gone well and or The Laser Spine Institute in Tampa?

    Last edited by moderator2; 03-08-2008 at 12:34 PM. Reason: please delete the quote

     
    Old 03-08-2008, 12:20 PM   #7
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Hello - there are many success stories out here. If you use the search capability you will find them. You will also find good patient stories on LSI. The ACDF surgeries are done in hundreds of thousands a year for sure - maybe millions. You are seeing a small cache of folks that seek information. The people that stay around have either made friends and use it for social/support, or they still have lingering problems. The ones that improved - went on and are out having lots of fun! Remember many found their way to the site to get information and aren't regular computer/board type users, so they disappear afterwards. If you look through all the medical studies you will find numbers for ACDF success rates anywhere from low 80% to 95% success rates. Some of these have large patient groups of over 500 people followed for 36 months. I am not aware of any long term studies on minimally invasive surgery - although they could exist. If you get to know some of the people, even those with lingering problems they are still better off in general.

    You could also research - artificial disc replacement (ADR)

    Do you have your MRI report? Curious did your carpal tunnel get confirmed with EMG?

     
    Old 03-08-2008, 12:51 PM   #8
    Jeff59
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Yes, I have the MRI report on my neck. I also had one done on my left hand but have not received the results. The Neurologist did nerve testing on me separate from the MRI, which was ordered by an Ortho.

    I appreciate your reply very much. This board is a very good thing, thanks to people like you. Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge!

    ps: My Surgeon said that if I didn't need C4-C5 done also, that he would do a disc replacement on C5-C6 using a Prestige disc replacement, but that there is not a disc replacement available for multi-levels. (there have only been 5 of these done in Oregon and he has done 3 of the 5)

    Last edited by moderator2; 03-08-2008 at 06:50 PM. Reason: no emails - please read our rules

     
    Old 03-09-2008, 10:23 PM   #9
    bw67
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Jeff and others-

    Sounds like you've got a lot going on.

    I think someone else has already said this on this post, but if you think about it, it makes sense. It is harder to find SUCCESS STORIES on these pages, because once most people find relief they get on with their lives. The majority of the people on these pages are looking for answers and haven't found relief yet.

    That being said, what troubles me the most are those posts where people had fusion procedures done, and then either did not find relief, OR needed more surgeries down the road.

    The main reason I chose the minimally invasive procedure was that it showed considerable promise for my specific condition, and yet it didn't involve REMOVAL of any discs or FUSION of any vertabrae. SO, if it DIDN'T WORK, I still had the fusion option available to me. With medical technology advancing every day, I wanted to do whatever might give me relief and would still give me available options in the future as technology advanced.

    The only facility that I contacted regarding artificial disc replacement indicated that I was not a candidate because I too had multiple herniations.

    I found several doctors throughout the country who claimed to perform minimally invasive procedures- specifically Dr Jho in Pittsburgh, Dr. Schiffer out in San Fran, the Laser Spine Institute and Dr. Reuter down Florida.

    For me, neither Dr. Schiffer or the Laser Spine Institute took my insurance. Which meant the procedure was going to cost me $20-30K out of pocket, with no guarantee that it would work. I believe Dr Jho did take my insurance, but his waiting list was a mile long.

    At the time- 18 months ago- Dr. Reuter was in network with my insurance. And his office was 10-15 minutes from where my Aunt lived, so I had a free place to stay. AND, I found a cheap flight on Southwest. So not only did the type of procedure Dr. Reuter performs appealed to me, the logistics worked for me as well.

    I guess I should make it clear that I absolutely have no ties whatsoever to Dr. Reuter, I just believe in the work he did for me...

    I believe further that so many people out there have procedures done unnecessarily, primarily because they are not aware that other options exist.

    Best of luck

    BW

     
    Old 03-13-2008, 06:57 AM   #10
    Citadel72
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jeff59 View Post
    Greetings Everyone:

    I was in a MVA 10-07-2007. After months of Chropractic care and PT and Massage I still have constant numbness in my left forearm, hand and thumb/index finger. My right arm is typically numb from the shoulder down upon waking then goes away. Sometimes my left leg goes numb from sitting at the computer from the hip down. Aside from neck injuries I ripped tendons in my left thumb and dislocated my lunate. I have found out that I also have Carpul Tunnel in both hands.

    I finally had an MRI and am consulting with both a Neurologist as well as a MicroNeuroSurgeon. I did not respond to steroid treatment and was told that if I want to get out of misery that surgery is the way to do this. They want to do an ACDF C3-C4-C5.

    I have spent many hours reading posts on this forum and not found any success stories. I found myself becoming very discouraged and now am more frightened about surgery than ever. I don't want to be improper with regard to rules on posting but I also looked at the LSI website in Tampa and read the testimonials and became more encouraged or hopeful that they might offer something different. Can anyone comment on ACDF's that have gone well and or The Laser Spine Institute in Tampa?

    I didn’t have an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF) done, but I had posterior endoscopic laser surgery on my neck (C3-C4 discs) at the Laser Spine Institute in July 2006. And it was hugely successful, much to my delight.

    When I was 30, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (arthritis of the spine). It started in my sacroiliac joints and began its ascent up my spine with devastating results. “Ankylosing” means to unite or grow together, as the bones of a joint or a vertebra become one with surrounding bones. Soon I couldn’t turn my hips or flex my back and the stiffness turned to constantly increasing pain, replete with an electrical burning sensation whenever I moved too sharply or quickly. Rheumatologists, neurologists, internists and sports medicine doctors examined me and conducted a battery of tests on me with the same prescribed regimen of medical treatment --- multiple NSAIDs, analgesic steroids, etc. I adapted to the limitations. The disease continued on its merry way largely unaffected by the efforts to stop or hinder its progress. When it reached my neck, it turned my C-3 and C-4 vertebrae into one fused vertebra, essentially a C-3/4, and eventually locked up my neck so that I had about 10 degrees of movement left and right, and no movement at all up and down unless I was willing to undergo unspeakable pain forcing it. I adapted. With each advance on my body, I adapted. I adapted to everything that AS could throw at me … until the pain in my neck became so severe that I could not sleep without heavy medication for the pain, heavy medication for the burning sensations that ran down my arms and legs and the numbness in my hands and feet, and heavy medication to induce sleep due to the rigidity of my joints and muscles. I became a prisoner to the narcotics that spared me the agony that wracked my body from top to bottom night and day. It was a struggle to concentrate on my work or focus on anything with any clarity for any considerable length of time. I enjoyed nothing and no one enjoyed me. The alternative was worse. Going to the restroom was a chore, putting on my socks and shoes was a chore, stooping down to get into my car was a chore, everything I had always taken for granted was a strenuously painful, dreadful CHORE.

    In July 2006, I walked into the impressive surgical headquarters of the Laser Spine Institute and met with Drs. Perry, Hamburg and St. Louis for the third time prior to surgery. They were warm, attentive and reassuring. I was treated like royalty. I was assigned a young nurse, remarkably knowledgeable and experienced, who watched over me as if I were kin and never left my side until I was prepped for surgery 45 minutes later. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Hamburg, took over and explained every detail of every step that was to ensue from that point forward. He administered a light sedation (Versed) to keep me calm through the surgery and a local anesthetic at the spot where Dr. St. Louis would make the small incision to enter my neck. I was completely awake and coherent. Dr. St. Louis entered the surgical theatre, greeted me and warmly detailed what was to transpire during the procedure. They laid me face down on a comfy table with a place cut out for my face and Dr. St. Louis began the surgery. Forty minutes later, it was all over and the nurse was back with an orderly in tow and I was being escorted to recovery. Again, she never left my side, constantly attending to my every wish, fear and need. After 45 minutes of recovery, I was rechecked by Drs. Perry, Hamburg and St. Louis, given scripts for medicine and released until the following morning. Throughout it all, I was completely awake and fully cognizant of everything that is going on around me and being done to me … all in all, a very pleasant experience.

    I had the prescriptions for pain medication filled, but there was no pain and so I didn’t take any and I was fine … better than fine, I was ecstatic. My 80-year old mother, my brother, his wife and I went out to eat at a posh restaurant and I enjoyed the best evening I could remember in years. I awoke the next morning feeling great and I could move my neck again like I did when I was 30 years younger. I giggled in relief and broke into gales of grateful laughter as I entered LSI for my recheck later than morning. The entire LSI workforce broke into applause and it was sweet to the ear. The physical therapist examined me and put me through some flexibility exercises and I could easily manage all of them without pain or restrictions.

    Twenty months later, I am still pain-free and symptom-free. I have total flexibility and no trouble completing tasks that require physical labor and dexterity. It cost $29,500, of which 3/5 were paid by my insurance. It was worth every penny to me … to get my mobility back ... my quality of life. I am free. I AM FREE. There is no more pain, no more drugs to take. After 27 years of not being able to go a single day without horrendous pain, limited to where I could go and how long I could stay there … watching my family suffer along with me … putting constraints on their lives and their freedom, we now go anywhere we want or at least anywhere we can afford.

    I wholeheartedly recommend and endorse the Laser Spine Institute to anyone needing back or neck pain relief. LSI enjoys prestige worldwide as a class surgical center, providing effective alternatives to open-body surgery.

    -- Citadel72

     
    Old 03-13-2008, 03:44 PM   #11
    chablis3
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Hi...it was very interesting reading what everyone had to say about the Laser Spine Institute in Florida. When I first started having neck and back problems, I came upon the web site for LSI and read it with great interest. It was quite informative reading testimonials from some of you that have actually been there, had procedures, and came home with great success stories. I was almost ready to talk to my neurosurgeon about having my back operated on, 2 herniated disc's, but had to pospone due to my daughter having an operation, and me having a heart attack. Both of us are doing fine, and should I eventually decide to have surgery in the future, I am convinced I should explore what LSI has to offer to help with my problems.

    Thanks for the informative posts, and best wishes to everyone. So glad to hear you all are pain free.

    Judy

     
    Old 03-19-2008, 10:06 AM   #12
    Citadel72
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Chablis3,

    Sorry to hear about your heart attack. That makes 2 things we have in common. Be advised, LSI has a policy of a 9-month waiting period following a heart attack, plus you must be cleared by your cardiologist before LSI will proceed with the laser surgery.

    I underwent the same waiting period for my VERY successful surgery at LSI. It was frustrating because by the time I had made up my mind to have them do the surgery I was chomping at the bit to have it done. I had originally had it scheduled for October 2005 when I suffered a heart attack arriving at AllTell Stadium to see the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Seattle Seahawks game on – of all dates – 9/11 (another sad reason for me to remember that date) and had to be rushed to the hospital for open heart surgery with 6 bypasses. Nine months later, I had the endoscopic laser surgery on my neck for cervical stenosis and a facet joint ablation procedure, but it was well worth it in the end.

    I hate to throw around a bunch of superlatives and especially the term MIRACLE because it cheapens them by over-usage, but I can’t think of a more apt description in my case.

    I investigated corrective surgeries, proposed with little promise of success and no guarantees. A laminectomy seemed to be my best option. A gruesome procedure where they go through the front of the throat, filleting open the muscles, surrounding tissues and the vocal chords, and yet I was about to agree to this expensive procedure when I discovered I would be out of work for 6 to 9 months convalescing and that the success rate was less than 50% improvement less than 50% of the time. After that, I approached every recommended surgical remedy with the same jaundiced pessimism.

    With that kind of cynicism, it’s a wonder I even let LSI operate on me, but thank God, I did. Now I am enjoying all of the activities denied me for nearly 3 decades.

    Please keep us informed, letting us know of your ultimate decision on your surgery and the result and your progress. You have friends in this community of sufferers and former sufferers. May God bless you and your daughter on your roads to recovery.

    -- Citadel72

     
    Old 03-19-2008, 01:06 PM   #13
    murphmom
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    Re: before you have fusion surgery!

    Hi, in 2000 I had an anterior fusion with donor bone at 3 levels c4-6. They put in an anterior titanium plate. It was the best thing I ever did!! I was immediatley out of the incredible pain that I had been in for many, many years.

    I had absolutley no problems until the last 6 months where I just found out yesterday that they need to go back in becuase at c-3 the spinal cord is being severley inpinged. They will go in the the front and put in a new bone and then flip me over and do a posterior plate only at level 3 so that they do not disturb the previous fusion.

    If I had to do it over again, I would. The pain before was unbaearable and I had many years free from it. Has anyone out there had this type of refusion? and if so what was your experiance?

     
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