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    Old 06-29-2014, 10:04 AM   #1
    Moonstar22
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    4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Hi,
    I had this surgery in Dec 2013, L1 to L5 and have quite a bit of hardware in there. I expected I'd go back to work by 6 weeks or sooner. Well that didn't pan out for me. I have been approved for SSDI, thank goodness! This could be a long story unless someone understands.
    I have a couple of questions I hope some of you can give me.
    First is does or has anyone had bowel leakage B-4 of after surgery?
    Embarrassing.
    Second for now is, has anyone experienced or are experiencing chronic pain after their surgery? I am and I'm so frustrated it makes me sick.

    Thank you a head of time for anything you can advise me with

     
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    Old 06-30-2014, 10:03 PM   #2
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    On the chronic pain a very big yes from me. It is very hard to control I am about to start my 3rd med for pain next week. It is very hard to control & to try & find what works & what does not work. It does take time. Talk with your PM they should work with you to try & find a combination a things that can work to alleviate most of the pain.
    As with the hardware I have plenty right now just from 2 surgeries 3 days apart. With hardware failures included now.


    I have had some leakage pre/post-op as well. Not much but I have had some. I have also done some research that it it a lot more common when you have problems more in your lumbar area compared to the cervical area. But it does happen.

    I am glad that you got approved for your SSDI fairly quickly. I have my hearing finally after 2 years coming up in August. I hope to have more ammo for my lawyer because on Thursday I go to see my Neuro-surgeon about my broken screws & also about the vertebrae slipping over my plates installed last year.

    Hope this helps you out some. Also how did you get your SSDI so fast? If you don't mind me asking. It has been a long road for me. My wife & I have cut down almost everything possible to the point of we are at the point of losing the house as well if the SS hearing doesn't happen favorably for me.

    Also you can read more of my story here: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/spinal-cord-disorders/937278-going-norton-spine-1-week.html

    It has several post & questions I have asked. Also the Pain Management/Chronic Pain page is good to ask some questions about too.

    Best of luck
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    Old 07-03-2014, 12:26 AM   #3
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    So sorry to hear your of your post-op complications. I know how disappointing it is to think that the operation will go as planned and that you can return to at least a modified resemblence of your life.
    You are not alone. I didn't/dont have any abdominal complications but within 5 years of my fusion, I was qualified 100% disabled and on SSDI( at 35 years of age). Been in pain management for 14 years and just last August had a neurostimulator implanted. It has made a tremendous difference and my pain level is consistently a 3/4 down from 7/8 and pain medications reduced 75%.
    I hope things improve for you. stay positive and I wish you well, bea

     
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    Old 07-11-2014, 02:39 PM   #4
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Thank you both for your replies.
    As for my getting approved for SSDI, I have no idea how or why I got approved so quickly. A good lawyer or maybe good luck. I applied with an attorney in January and in May I got the approval letter that said my approval is June and my 1st payment won't be until 7-23-14. I have no back pay because they make you wait & to be out of work for 6 months. When I filed, I put the date I became disabled was the date of my surgery 12-2-2013. In fact, afterwards I realized it began a very long time before that but I was working, I was in agony but I was working. This happened just in time for me before I'd become homeless. I was so scared.

    As for my pain, I am on meds that do help a lot even though I still have a lot of pain. I think so far this is the best combination. I see my PM this Tuesday.

    Beamybea, the implant you got, is it one of them that has medication pumped? If it is, do you feel the medicine in your head compared to oral meds? I've been thinking about asking my PM about one but I'm not sure of the effects you feel oral vs pump. I'd rather be on a pump if that's the case & try to be off oral meds.

    roadiez, I'm so sorry you have problems with your hardware. That scares me too. I am praying that doesn't happen to me. My surgeon did the xrays when I last saw him this past Tuesday and he said the hardware looks good from what he can see. He is worried about the bowel problems I am having.

    Anyway he is sending me for 4-MRI's. Cervical is one because I'm having the pain I had before the surgery I had in Dec. 2011 on my neck. Then from examining me he wants a thoracic one too. The last 2 are of my lumbar, he wants one w/o contrast and 1 w/contrast. I'm going for those this Tuesday right after I see my PM.
    Then he's sending me to a Gastro, Urolo & Neuro. Also my balance (Gait) is way off & I can't walk without a cane.

    Failed back surgery? I do think so.

     
    Old 07-11-2014, 04:41 PM   #5
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Moonstar22 View Post
    Hi,
    I had this surgery in Dec 2013, L1 to L5 and have quite a bit of hardware in there. I expected I'd go back to work by 6 weeks or sooner. Well that didn't pan out for me. I have been approved for SSDI, thank goodness! This could be a long story unless someone understands.
    I have a couple of questions I hope some of you can give me.
    First is does or has anyone had bowel leakage B-4 of after surgery?
    Embarrassing.
    Second for now is, has anyone experienced or are experiencing chronic pain after their surgery? I am and I'm so frustrated it makes me sick.

    Thank you a head of time for anything you can advise me with
    Hi moonstar, In 1982, age 26, hurt my back, had 4 lumbar surgeries L4-5, L5-S1 & had increasing pain, saw NS every 6 weeks for 17 years, had regular MRI's, worked until i became unable due to pain, started PM & had every kind of PT, injection then prescribed fentanyl patch for last14 years & my diagnosis all of that time was failed back surgery syndrome. I saw a new NS in 2012, had MRI & was told i had adhesive arachnoiditis. I had never heard of it but it was on my MRI reports starting in 1988! I was never told & i left it up to my NS to tell me what my MRI's showed instead of looking for myself, i had adhesive arachnoiditis the whole time with my MRI's showing "clumping of nerve roots" suggestive of arachnoiditis & the symptoms include increasing chronic pain, neuropathy symptoms, bladder & bowel problems, i had had problems getting urine started for years off & on & it is caused by invasive spine procedures like surgeries or epidural anesthetics or injections, spinal taps & a foreign substance i.e. medicine, blood, myelogram dye gets into the spinal fluid & it can start the scarring process in the thecal sac called arachnoiditis. With chronic back problems & chronic pain especially arachnoiditis, i had to learn to be my own advocate & learn all that i could about my own particular situation & diagnosis, getting copies of all medical records, all imaging & other testing & if i had done that i would have know many, many years sooner. When you go to the urologist & gastro are they supposed to be looking for possible problems caused by spinal nerve damage from before the nerves were decompressed by the surgery?You are still in early recovery at 6-7 months , has the surgeon said anything about possible nerve compression now or how long until the fusions will show bone growth that you are fused at every level? Its a wonderful thing that you got approved for SSDI already but if i were you i would want to know why & what is the reason the name of the diagnosis. I hope that the MRI's & specialist referrals give the dr alot more information so that you can recover fully & dont have to have anymore surgery!

    Last edited by gmak; 07-11-2014 at 05:12 PM.

     
    Old 07-11-2014, 05:20 PM   #6
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Well, My surgeon is the one sending me to the Gastro, Urolo & Neuro and I trust he knows why. I believe he wants to rule out other things and see the MRI results before we move forward. Believe me, if he wants to do another surgery on my back or anywhere else, I will totally investigate. I will talk to each of these doctors & ask them about nerve issues and let them all know the whole story so that they do check me for any nerve problems. Though my doctor didn't say, here is what his referrals say....

    Gastro-IB Bowel incontinence loose stools
    Urolo-urodynamic study
    Neuro-Gait Dysfunction dysphagia

    Do you know what these tests mean?

    The group of the Hospital and doctors are all one and they can go into the computer and see each others diagnostics, reports etc all in one place.
    I love that they can do that and I can see a lot of things as well.

    This will be the 1st MRI since my surgery so it should say a lot. Well see...
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    Old 07-13-2014, 10:31 AM   #7
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Hi- my neurostimulator is not a pump. It basically works by overriding the pain signals from my back. The device emits electrical impulses which reach my brain before the pain impulses and therefore the pain is dulled. It works very well. I took narcotics for years and went through countless injections. Finally after 13 years, my doctor got approval for the implant. I have tapered down more than 75% on the medications and I feel human again.
    I hope you feel better soon and I wish you well, always. Bea

     
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    Old 07-13-2014, 11:34 AM   #8
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    I would imagine your surgeon wants to rule out that your continuing symptoms are coming from your spine and related issues that might be caused by the recent surgery, rather than from an issue with the bowel itself, another neurological problem, etc.

    The surgeon would like to believe that every surgery will turn out with the expected or hoped for result. Before accepting the possibility that the surgery itself is causing the problems, he/she wants to rule out any other system issue.

    As I think I said earlier, a four level fusion is a big surgery. Many surgeons would not begin to look for additional causes of your symptoms until a year has passed from the date of surgery.

    Did you have previous lumbar surgeries prior to the fusion?

     
    Old 07-14-2014, 09:36 AM   #9
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teteri66 View Post
    I would imagine your surgeon wants to rule out that your continuing symptoms are coming from your spine and related issues that might be caused by the recent surgery, rather than from an issue with the bowel itself, another neurological problem, etc.

    The surgeon would like to believe that every surgery will turn out with the expected or hoped for result. Before accepting the possibility that the surgery itself is causing the problems, he/she wants to rule out any other system issue.

    As I think I said earlier, a four level fusion is a big surgery. Many surgeons would not begin to look for additional causes of your symptoms until a year has passed from the date of surgery.

    Did you have previous lumbar surgeries prior to the fusion?
    1st let me thank you for the info!

    No I never had a lumbar surgery other than this one.

    I did have a 2 level fusion on my neck Dec 2011. The discs were degenerated and collapsed and were leaning on my spinal cord. I was told I may or may not have to have additional surgery in the future above or below.
    Because I am having the same pains I had before my neck surgeries, that's most likely why he wants an MRI on the cervical spine.
    So your right, I'm sure he wants to rule out other issues to help narrow down what's going on with my body.

    Thanks again
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    Old 07-14-2014, 09:39 AM   #10
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Thanks Beamybea. Sorry about the confusion & clarifying.
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    Jul 2014 MRI, C3-4 hern/comp, C6-7 disc protr/spurs, Thor T6 cyst, T6-7 disc protr on thecal sac, T7-8 spurs/mild on sac. Oct 2014 Diag-Osteoporosis

     
    Old 08-04-2014, 09:55 AM   #11
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Update...
    I have seen the Gastro Dr & he has determined I have some nerve damage. He also has prescribed me a powder that I mix with water, it makes the stool firmer. Also a prescription for a cream for my hemorrhoids. They are working!

    Next I saw the Neurologist. I was not happy with her at all. The reason I was sent there (like I said in upper post) was for Gait Dysfunction & dysphagia.
    As all she would tell me about the gait was "the surgery you had takes a long time to heal". She barely examined me pertaining to my balance, just had me walk a few steps in the tiny room I was in.

    As for the dysphagia, she had nothing to say except referred me to Physical Medicine & rehab dept. for a speech therapist to do a swallowing test. So after my appt with her I called to make a appt and the person had no idea what I was talking about & kept putting me on hold trying to find out if they do this kind of test. She was completely confused & said she needs to confirm that I'm on charity (same as checking my insurance) & will have to call me back before she could schedule an appt. So far I haven't gotten a call back. When I do I'm going to ask to speak to the therapist that does this test. I really think this place does not!

    I am very dissatisfied with this Neuro Dr. She was reviewing all my MRI's and couldn't stop talking about how impressive my lumbar surgery was & how she wants to talk to my surgeon about it. Also to talk to him about my disc C3-C4 herniation that's poking on to my spinal cord just above the fusion I had.
    She seemed so inexperienced to me. Felt like she was straight out of medical school. Very frustrating!!!

    I was there for gait dysfunction & swallowing issues! My surgeon can see my MRI's of coarse, they all are on the same computers! The only other thing she examined is my reflex's in my arms, hands & my legs. She as well as my surgeon has told me that the reflex's are "too much". I still don't know what that means...does anyone here?

    Well tomorrow is the Urologist. Last specialist before I go back to my surgeon for "All" results on the 13th.
    This is one heck of a journey. Does anyone relate to any of this?

    Sorry this was so long and thank you for reading & hopefully responding.
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    Jul 2014 MRI, C3-4 hern/comp, C6-7 disc protr/spurs, Thor T6 cyst, T6-7 disc protr on thecal sac, T7-8 spurs/mild on sac. Oct 2014 Diag-Osteoporosis

     
    Old 08-04-2014, 05:31 PM   #12
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Gait issues, bowel issues and brisk reflexes are indicative of spinal cord compression. That doesn't mean you have that or that there isn't something else going on, but it is something to be aware of. A 4 level ACDF is a big surgery and there can be many complications including spinal cord trauma from the surgery or the implanted hardware. The MRIs should help determine the cause of these symptoms and it sounds like you will be following up with your surgeon which is good.

    Dysphagia is also a common symptom in multi-level (3+) ACDF surgeries (39% at 3 months in a study conducted by the national institute of health. If you search "incidence of dysphagia in ACDF" you should find the study). The dysphagia is usually transient but can be long-lasting.

    The swallow study they are talking about is known as a "Modified Barium Swallow". It's performed with a speech pathologist and radiologist. THey give you various liquids and solids to drink/eat and basically take video x-rays of the swallowing mechanism. They study the mechanism of swallowing from how the food/liquid is moved from your mouth to your throat and into your esophagus looking for anything slowing or interfering with that process. The speech pathologist will also ask you some questions to do a basic evaluation of your speech (if there are problems this will go be more in-depth). In my case, I have disk osteophytes that are "very close" to impinging on the top part of my esophagus when I swallow but they don't believe they are causing a problem at this time. That study could also, for example, show that food/drink was getting caught up on hardware from an ACDF which can occasionally happen. Hopefully you can get that scheduled as it may be illuminating in your case.

    Good Luck... and let us know how your appointment goes.

     
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    Old 08-04-2014, 05:49 PM   #13
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Thank you ChuckStr
    I just printed your post & am going to look up the study you suggested and you have some important info about the swallowing test & how it may be done. Very good to know & now I know what the test is about.

    Many thanks & I will update after I see my last specialist tomorrow.


    Moonstar
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    Jul 2014 MRI, C3-4 hern/comp, C6-7 disc protr/spurs, Thor T6 cyst, T6-7 disc protr on thecal sac, T7-8 spurs/mild on sac. Oct 2014 Diag-Osteoporosis

     
    Old 08-05-2014, 11:37 AM   #14
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    She as well as my surgeon has told me that the reflex's are "too much". I still don't know what that means...does anyone here?

    If, for example, when they rap your knee with the little mallet to check your reflexes, if your leg responds more than normal, it can be a sign of cervical cord compression. It is called hyper-reflexia.

    Just so you notice...the last poster is referring to cervical fusion, not lumbar.

    Dysphagia is also a common symptom in multi-level (3+) ACDF surgeries (39% at 3 months in a study conducted by the national institute of health. If you search "incidence of dysphagia in ACDF" you should find the study). The dysphagia is usually transient but can be long-lasting.


    I would think that the only reason you would have swallowing problems following lumbar surgery would be due to an action by the anesthesiologist such as a problem with intubation....

     
    Old 08-05-2014, 11:57 AM   #15
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    Re: 4 level lumbar fusion & reconstr-Failure

    Ah, teteri66 is correct. I was thinking about cervical fusion surgery and you had lumbar fusion most recently. As teteri66 says, that shouldn't generally cause dysphagia. Sorry for the confusion...

     
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