After talking to my boyfriends uncle (who used to do a lot of work with doctors and medical implants, specifically those involving the spine) about the upcoming anterior/posterior two-level spinal fusion (L4/L5/S1), he's put out some concerns and suggestions. The first thing he suggested was to go see another doctor (he recommended one and he's covered under my plan) - a neurosurgeon. This doctor does PILF's. I currently have surgery scheduled with an orthopedic surgeon. He also had a slew of questions that I should be asking BOTH doctors prior to doing surgery.
After hearing all this and preparing myself for a second opinion, I started reading about the differences between the various versions of spinal fusions. TLIF/PLIF seem to be the same thing (posterior only approach). Overall I'm reading that an anterior/posterior approach has better fusion rates, but I'm not sure how accurate this information really is since it seems it's more based on YOUR doctor than just general stats.
What are the major benefits of doing one vs the other? Why did you choose the method you did for your fusion? If you've had both types done (PLIF/TLIF/ALIF and Anterior/Posterior), which was better overall, what was the recovery time and what were the circumstances to have each procedure done?
I was really quite comfortable with my decision and with my doctor, but now I've got a whole new set of fears regarding the whole thing, just after I was comfortable with it all. :''(