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Lumbar Fusion - need your advice, hardware in front?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hi everyone,

Need your opinion on this. Hope you can help, especially if you've had any type of lumbar fusion or done the research.
I'm planning on a second back surgery. Need to have L4-S1 fused. The discs will be removed completely. Then, they will fixate with the usual hardware on the back (posterior)
My question:
Should I also have hardware installed on the front (anterior)? I'm getting different opinions from different surgeons.
One doc recommends a 360 circumferential fusion with hardware on the front.
Another says that he doesn't install the front hardware anymore. A major artery runs through there, may rub against or attach to the hardware. After the surgery the artery would rupture, patients would bleed out and die.

Anyone heard of this? Have you had the front hardware? What were your results as far as pain?

Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences and just being yourselves. On a bad pain day, it's comforting to lurk here, reminding myself that I'm not alone with this. Keeps things in perspective. On a good day, I'm a bit more vocal.
Thanks much :)


  • Hi Dave,
    I have a spinal fusion done on my 4th lumbar in 2004. Now it's no good after falling from a ladder last Feb. 2008. My surgeon now wants to do this one over and add another fusion on my 3rd lumbar. As bad as I hurt on some days, I can't talk myself into going through this again.
    I have a friend who had both the frontal and posterio fusion type surgery. I hate to discourage you; but, he's now in horrible condition, never be able to work again. He's in his 60's and his main trouble was his deterioating spine. Following surgery, first he couldn't take any pain meds, shook so bad with pain after he got home that he ripped out some stitches..had to go back into surgery to get re-stitched. Next the metal in him cause him to get infected, all of this had to be removed. He's now out of his bodycast but is in contant pain unable to work anymore.
    Sorry, for such a discouraging post!
  • What a story, I do not think that happens to everyone.

    My best tips are:
    1) Exhaust other options unless you find a great surgeon who suggests surgery for explainable and understandable reasions.
    2) Pick the best surgeon and get more opinions.
    3) Follow the rehab instructions, be prepared to be pretty careful and low mobility for about 3-4 months. But walk as much as you can, discomfort is your guide. Never bend or lift until you get the ok.

    I have had some pins placed "in the front" and hardware in the back with no problem at this stage.

  • I appreciate the feedback, whether the outcome is good or bad. It keeps things in perspective.
    At 39, I'm barely able to work. And spend the rest of my life home on a heat pack, barely able to sleep.
    There's one bad disc that has never been treated. The other bad disc - the surgeon left it in. If it's generating pain, I don't know why he would leave it in, unless he wants the repeat business.
    So, I have 2 known pain generators in my back (2 discs) and am leaning toward surgery to have them removed. I know it's a gamble, but if I'm stuck in bed, I'm going to deteriorate rapidly.
    Please keep the feedback coming! Any experience with hardware on the front of the discs? Thanks much :)
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