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When should you see fusion starting?

Shell74SShell74 Posts: 299
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I know that this is an nearly impossible question to answer because every procedure is different and every person heals differently. There are so many variables. I am just hoping to get some personal experiences.

Just wondering when a patient should become concerned? When should you ask for a bone growth stimulator? Should I expect anything to show at my 6 week appointment? My fusion was done with donor bone, hardware and my bone marrow. I just want to be prepared for my appointment.

My daughter had a complete tib-fib fracture when she was hit by a car, she had rods inserted thru the center of the bones and had new bone growth within 3 weeks. Kids are so different and growth is quick. I know I shouldnt compare,I just cant help it,lol.



  • I want to know too-I go for my first xray (since being out of the hospital) next week and I will be crushed if I do not see some growth!! I will be 7 weeks post op then. They used donor bone,bone from my hip, bone from my spine and bone putty......lots and lots of bone. I really want to see some growth next week! Good luck 2 u!
  • I go next week..will be 8 weeks. i had donor graft, instrumentation and fusion. I am hoping it is good
  • Hi everyone! Patience is the key here. I was very worried when at 8 weeks post op I wasn't fusing. I was told it could take 6 to 12 months to start fusing. I myself was very worried. At my 5 month dr. appointment I finally had some fusion going on. So hang in there and try not to worry. Remember that every body is different.
  • are your activities still limited when the x-ray shows no/little fusion? I am assuming that is the way it should be!
  • I will come home with a bone stimulator from the hospital. I thought everyone did? Also, smoking causes a reduction in bone fusion, nicotine is deadly to bone cells. Just a thought, not saying anyone does.
  • no bone stimulator for me-never heard of it except for on these boards. I was wondering about limitations until bone growth too. Anyone know?
  • This is the big question, when will we fuse? Although there are a lot of individual differences, on the average fusion takes place between 6 weeks - 1 year (I have even read that up to two years is normal.) There is some confusion about what constitutes fusion, when the x-ray detects the first sign of new bone growth or when the spine is completely fused. When I asked my OS on the -week visit if I am fusing yet he just laughed, he said it takes longer than that, be patient. At three month, I finally had shown that I have began to fuse. The OS said it starts from the bottom (S1-L5) area for me and works itself up to the higher level (L3 in my case). I will see what happens my next visit in October (5 months post fusion).

    As far as the bone fusion stimulator, I had one implanted at the time of the surgery. The electrodes sit on the bone graft site, the small battery pack is just under my skin right of the incision. I am barely aware of it. The battery will be dead in six months, then the OS can remove it at the outpatient's clinic, or I can just keep it (forever?)

  • They are disposable, everything out and throwed away is what my SS told me. Seems for 3800 hundred, they would find a way to recycle, lol.
  • Hi Everyone:

    I had a TLIF fusion about a year ago, I fused in six weeks. I don't smoke and I am in good health. They say no BLT before you are fused...that is, no bending, lifting, or twisting. Healing from back surgery is a slow process, my doctor told me it can take up to two years. Even though I fused quickly, I am still recovering.

  • I have my first xray on 9/26/08 and then see the surgeon on 9/29/08, almost 8 weeks out. I have a Bone growth stimulator too, it is external, I use it for 30 minutes a day. My NS gives them to all his fusion patients. I too am wondering if fusion is required to be showing for him to lift the no BLT restrictions and also for returning to work. I got my op report today, and there is so much stuff in there, surely there will be some fusion going on ;)
  • I was just hoping to see a tiny speck of new white bone growth at my 6 week appointment in 2 weeks. Just to make sure the body accepted it. We will see. I just wanted to know what is "typicall". I understand fusion starting is a huge difference between being fused.

    Thanks all,
  • I had an x-ray at 6 weeks and it showed nothing but as I was told to expect 6 months I didn't worry.
    Then at 12 weeks I was not so hot and Dr ordered a CT scan where we could see the astart of the fusion. He did say he would n't have seen it on an X-ray.
    So that was a good sign even though I was having problems.

    Next CT is in 4 weeks so I will be 24 weeks by them and looking forward to seeing the difference.
    I also had the BMP which stimulates bone growth so that could be why it was showing.

    Stay patient (dont you just hate that) :))(

    Sara O:)
  • hi sweetie,
    in my personal opinion and from reading so much, there is NO "typical" time.
    you were right in saying everyone is different.
    i spoke with alot of nurses in the ortho unit in my 3 day stay. not one person fuses the same. some may start seeing a tiny bit at a week, some do not start to really see anything up to 6 months like mentioned in a above post.
    just keep doing what your doing.
    only exercise (walk) as much as your body allows. hey if its only 10 minutes then thats what it will be.

    this is my second time around and well we won't know anything for awhile since i just got home. i do know the bone graft is much more painful this time then the last. WHY I HAVE NO CLUE :? they took it from the left side of the iliac crest instead of my right side which iv had twice , 1 for my cervical and 1 for the last spinal fusion in 07. right now i want to pull my leg off. i try so hard to get up and walk around the house. today will be my first official walk outside. i have to use the walker this time as i have no choice. dr hates them but heyyyy. my body not his.

    so just give it time. it can take forever for alot of people. fusing fully is rare like Ellen has mentioned before in some of her postings. so just goes to show how we are all different.
    my neck fusion was 6 months totally fused. i guess there was some fusing in my right side of my 07 fusion. i could of waited it out even longer he said, but im not a patient person. SO I WENT FOR IT AGAIN ;)
    sorry for the rambling. but i am only a couple days out, in tons of pain and well trying to keep my mind off of it by TALKING :D which hubby is sick of already he is kinda mentally blocking out my conversations =)) =)) BRAT :P

    if course you already know if new pain arises that you never had before that is out of the "norm" for healing call, call, call!!! as we cannot see inside our bodies without those lovely xray machines.

    i forgot all about asking for the bone stim. i think i will call monday. even though my doc is out hunting elk somewhere !! how dare he =; mabye one of the NP's or other docs will RX one. im just curious (seriously how much they really work in advancing the growth).

    hang in there!!!!!
    hugs from the rambling poster :D
  • Thanks TerriJV. I have only had one xray and of course didnt expect anything to show at that point.
    I am really trying to keep my cool but getting so antsy,lol.

  • I saw fusion starting at my 8-week checkup. The surgeon's PA pointed out what he called "the cloud" around the spine at the fusion site. He said that was the bone starting to fuse. At every visit since, it has been more dense. I go back for my 6-month checkup on Oct 2, and expect to see solid bone. During the last 3-4 weeks, I have felt much more stable, like fusing is happening quickly.

    Keep walking lots and doing what your PT tells you to do. I think it helps!
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