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1 inch bone fragment near my completed L5/S1 PLIF. Surgery 2/15 to remove it

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,

I had my PLIF on 10June08 and thankfully the fusion has worked beautifully. My surgeon said it was one of the quickest fusions he had ever seen. So the good news is that my spine is now stable. The cruddy news is that I STILL have the left leg pain and my right leg has pain in the posterior thigh, just half way down, and my outer right foot has some numbness and is very sensitive when touched.

I have faithfully kept my follow-up appointments with my surgeon. All the while still complaining of the left leg pain. He said just give the nerve time to settle down. I was okay with that since that seems to be what alot of the fusion folks here experience. My Pain Mgt doc said many of his patients leg pain suddenly disappears at the 6 month mark. Okay - so I made it to 6 months. Still the same level of pain in left leg and then the right one started in. I decided to just give it more time.

At my 6 month check up I had at CT scan beforre I went in for my appointment. Told him my leg was still at a 8 pain level without meds. He said I shouldn't have leg pain. So as he was looking at the fresh CT he saw a 1 inch bone fragment but he couldn't tell if it was intrathecal or extrathecal. He said that fragment may be the cause of my pain. Gave me a 70%-75% chance that removing it would get rid of the pain. I asked if it was there in my 3 month CT. He looked back at it was but he didn't pick it out at that time. Sheeeeshhhhh!

Anyway I scheduled myself for ANOTHER (#4) lumbar surgery which is tomorrow morning at 0730. He said it should take about an hour. If the fragmen is not intrathecal I only have to stay overnight. If the fragment is intrathecal I will have to stay in the hospital 2 nights since he will have to slice the dura to remove the fragment and I MIGHT get a super headache if/when the CSF leaks. I have never had one of those but I hea they make you want to kill yourself.

I guess what I really am asking is has anyone ever had a bone fragment removed after a PLIF? Did it stop the leg pain?

I'm really concerned that I am going through lumbar surgery #4 all for nothing. I have severe arachnoiditis (nerve clumping) from L4 all the way down into the cauda equina. I think it is the arachnoiditis (for which there is no cure yet) that is causing my continuing leg pain. I also had a second opinion from an ortho surgeon and he said he had never seen anything like that and removing it may get rid of the leg pain but the arachnoiditis may be the real cause. He has been the first surgeon that has acknowledged my arachnoiditis and how severly it can affect people.

I would love to hear from anyone that has had a similar experience as soon as possible.

If this surgery doesn't work I am absolutely going to have the Medtronic Intrathecal Drug Delivery Pump trial as soon as I can. I have heard great things about that pump and after 3 years of pain I am ready to go to the next step to alleviate this leg pain. I am so tired of swallowing all the drugs and not getting much relief as I am certain that I have built up a tolerance to them.

I tried the Spinal Cord Stimulartor trial about a year ago. I think it is a good tool but it just covers the pain - like a blanket of bees softly buzzing up and down your leg. I decided that wasn't for me.

Wow - I didn't mean to write so much but I guess more information is better than not enough!

I haven't posted for a long time and I want to say hi to all the OLDIES! I'll visit the Water Cooler soon.

Please pray for me tomorrow at 0730 PST. I hope I get better pain contol that I did when I came out of my fusion surgery. That was an awful time for me!

Thanks to everyone who has time to respond!

Warm regards,



  • Good Luck with your surgery.

    My story is not too different. But with arachnioditis and another tangibale reason for your on-going pain (the bone fragment) would take the surgery in the hope it will give you some degree of relief, even if not fully.
    That'd me my choice. You have come this far.

    I wish you well. Pls post up when you get home, let us know how you are?

  • Good luck and a question: did your doc use BMP during the fusion? Kind of collecting infomral mumber of complications I have heard of.

    I wish you luck. Repeat surgery of any kind is not nice, but know that you have a whole world of folks here on SH thinking of you.
  • I just wrote to you under the Water Cooler!

    Yep-he used BMP and mixed it up with some of my own bone.

    Thanks for thinking of me. It has been a long time since I posted but I went looking for you when I signed on and holy cow - you have been through the wringer. But so good to see you are on the mend! Love the Vegas idea too.

    I'll post when I get home in a day or two. I eally hate the though of going into the OR again and having to stay over night. They better do a better job of pain control this time although I don't expect it to be as severe as the fusion was. At least that is what my surgeon said. My sons will be there so they will make sure I am comfortable.

    Keep up the healing and the positive attitude! Hey - did they use BMP on you? I remember you weren't fusing and you went back in for surgery. Is that when you got the infection?

  • Dorene-

    Yes, used BMP. No, not fused. BMP caused bone extra bone growth on my nerve roots causing me to have additional leg pain. Have had surgery on it to remove it from different surgeon. Good news is I am on the mend and getting trying to get to the best I can be! :)

    I just wondered if the BMP caused your bone fragment or if had been floating around since the first surgery. Many member have had success with BMP and several have had surgeries to correct overgrowth. Your surgery can't be as painful as fusion, what the heck could be? :) I'm sure you'll do fine.

    I am glad to hear from you and hope your surgery goes well. You will be in my thoughts. Make sure you're not a stranger anymore and post an update!!!!!

  • You know I am glad you mentioned extra bone growth from the BMP. I was wondering if maybe that one inch "fragment" isn't a result of some BMP that dripped or plopped out of the cage. I would be willing to bet that it is some extra stuffing that fell out. Jeez! He better make sure there isn't anymore extra stuff in that area just waiting to grow. Funny, neither my surgeon nor the one I went to for a second opinion ever mentioned that as a possibility. Kind of feel like I shouldn't have to pay full price for the extra frosting that was left there.

    I'll check back in as soon as I get home.

    Anyone need a Healthcare MBA with over 15 years experience in medical practice management??? I need a job.
  • Hi dakmba, I wish you the best and I hate they didn't see that bone the 1st time. I also had the cage with bmp and have never been pain free. I am going for scans next week to find out if I have too much bone growth, so I will keep up with your progress. I thought I read that the Medtronic pump was pulled off the market, but I may be wrong. Sending prayers for you!
  • Hey, how the heck are you doing????

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