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Replacement of Fusion Hardware - Need Help with Decision ASAP!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have had three laminectomys (1989,1990,1991) and had L4/5/SI fused in 1993 in the UK (living there at the time). Previous to the surgery, I was bedridden and unable to move hardly at all for almost 1 year.
It took me nearly two years to get over that surgery (had a lot of complications - was in hospital for 2 months) but since then until about 1 year ago I have been pretty pain free.
Over the past year, my left leg has been getting very painful whenever I try to sustain movement for 1 to 2 hours. I had to sell my retail store in October, because it was becoming to painful to stand day after day and by the end of the day, once I stopped my movement, I couldn't get back up again the pain was so bad. A lot of 'squezzing pain' in the lower leg and foot. Since I stopped working and am just having some amounts of movement mixed with rest, the pain has eased a little. I have some back pain but to be honest I have always had some degree of back pain so its not horrendous and am quite used to it.
I have been for 4 opinions which are all slightly different. My rods are broken and I have a screw loose (literally) and my EMG says my nerves are pretty good with a chronic abnormality in the l4/l5 nerve root, but otherwise normal. I also have some stenosis, herniated disc material and one of the screws MAY have been placed through the neural forament (?)

The Ortho surgeon (local smalltown NJ) said I need to take out the broken rods and screws,
NS 1 (new only practicing two months) - says he can take out the rods and screws but doesn't know if I will get relief - suggest stimulator,
NS2 (bigger town NJ) says leave the rods and screws in and go straight for the stimulator and
NS3 (NYU - spine specialist) says that he thinks that if he takes out the rods and screws, cleans out the area and puts in new hardware I may get a result. He said that if my EMG had shown my nerves were messed up he would have also suggested going straight for the stimulator.

So this is my dilemma - I am booked for surgery on Jan 12th at NYU and am very very nervous about having a 5th surgery. Any advice - the problem is I have help available to me now to have the surgery which I won't have next month but am getting very scared!also concerned that it will take so long to recover that I will run out of service for like 6 months and the financial implication of that.
Thank you so much for any advice you can give!!!


  • HI,
    Sorry I can't help with much advice, but just wanted to say I'm sorry your going thru all this, and am sending warm thoughts and hugs your way.
    I am fortunate in that I have a wonderful hubby who has been there for me whenever I needed anything. I do know and understand the financial side of it. My hubby is retired and only works part time, so I am the primary income, and it has hurt us with me being on medical leave. I wish you the best of luck with your journey.
  • That is quite a dilemma. Which doctor do you have the most confidence with? Did any of the doctors give you any prediction for how long of a recovery you can expect?
    Since you booked your surgery with NS3, you must have felt confident with him and his approach. It is very normal to feel very nervous and try to second guess your first choice. Usually our first choice is our best. Try to keep yourself busy preparing for your recovery when you return home.
    I wish you the best as you make your final decision and hope that whatever you decide gives you the best outcome possible.

  • Thank you very much for your thoughts. I need to let my helper know by tomorrow morning as she will need to rebook her return flight to florida as she is supposed to leave on Tuesday! I really like NS3 and he says 6 weeks recovery but I read about all the problems people have had on the internet plus my previous complications and I worry! Sometimes I think that I'm asking too much not to have the pain. What if this is the best I'm supposed to be and I'll only be making it worse by having surgery. I read so many people who are worse off then me (they are where I was 15 years ago) plus people say 'how much worse can you be?' and we all know how bad it can get....I've spent months in rehab hospitals with accident victims, etc so I know how much worse it can be. Sorry for the rambling....... Just thinking out loud.......... BTW, I'm 52 - I think it would help if I could hear from someone who had their fusion as long ago as I to hear how they are doing.....Anyone with a fusion 10 years + having problems suddenly?
  • had a first surgery nearly 20 years ago and repeat surgery 4 years ago. He is 50.
    It is fair to say that his assessment is that his spine will never be normal. It took a while to get over the surgery but I am younger and mine has taken even longer due to unforeseen complications.

    I am unable to make this decision for you but best of luck what ever you decide.
    All I can say is trust you guts.

    Best of luck and keep us posted.

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