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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:28 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
hey all.. newbie here.. am scared beyond belief.. was just told need and ALIF/PLIF surgery. Have been on hydrocodone for nearly 6 years off and on.. no one could find or even b elieve in my pain till I found or orthopedic surgeon who did a mylegram w CT.. pain levels can reach 10 at times because of the nerves being pinched.. couldn't get anyone to sympathize with my pain till I discovered this sight.. i really would like to hear from anyone who has had this procedure.... thank you so much


  • Hi,

    Sorry you are having so much pain -hopefully. your upcoming surgery will help!

    There are a number of folks on this site who have had ALIF/PLIF (sometimes called 360, I think). If you do a search of this forum you will find much info. Especially helpful is the list of Post-Op Must-haves.

    I had this surgery in July 2008. My surgeon did the anterior surgery on a Monday and the posterior on Wednesday. Some people have both done at once - depends on the surgeon.

    What levels will you have fused?
  • Good Morning Everyone
    i had another spinal fusion done on tuesday. This is my third fusion. I now have three levels fused in my neck and one in my lumbar. Does anyone else have multi level fusion?

  • In 2005 had ALIf this surgery took 5 hours it did help me but recovery 8 months
  • Welcome to Spine Health, Walter and Shari,

    You are going to run across people with problems similar to your. Many postings talk about 360 fusion (ALIF/PLIF) and several people had fusions on different parts of their spine, cervical followed by lumbar, or visa versa. So just stay on, read the various threads, and don't be shy about posting specific questions you have.

    Good luck to you both,

  • Is the axiaLIF procedure covered by medicare? My husband is 55 and on Permanent disability(for 5 years). We've been told artificial disc replacement was not covered by medicare, how can I find out when it will be covered? Any help appreciated, TerriPoole
  • Yes it is. AxiaLIF describes the approach, the fusion is the same as PLIF,TLIF, ALIF etc. AxiaLIF results in lumbar fusion and if you fit the criteria for lumbar fusion under Medicare, AxiaLIF will be covered. Please realize AxiaLIF can only be used at 5/1 and 4/5. Should you be a candidate for AxiaLIF, you will most likely be home post op within 6-12 hours. One small incision near the tailbone and one small incision in the back. I work in the OR and have seen a number of these, for the right patient this is a terrific procedure.I wish you luck in your surgery.
  • I had a three-level Lumbar PLIF on November 19, 2008. Well, they tried anyway. They got the instrumentation in, but couldn't get through the scar tissue to get my discs out, so then had to go in through the front four days later. I think if they plan the 360 ahead of time, you'll be better off. Having two major surgeries within four days and having to undergo major anesthesia twice really wiped me out. I'm finally beginning to feel better and like the surgery was worth it. Still feel very stiff, but the pain is a lot better. Best wishes to you.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Just had two more levels fused in my neck, getting ready for a trial dorsal column stimulantor hope it help with this pain, the meds make my foggy
  • Well I went to my doc appt today. He wants to do a two level ALIF/PLIF fusion. He answered all my questions for me. I asked for a booklet about what to expect, and he told me to come to this website. I about started laughing. I told him Ive been coming to this site alot. Its workcomp related, so once they get the order from the doc they will get it approved. Does anyone know how long this surgery will last? Thats one question I forgot to ask him.
  • Yep, that's right #o , the doc's office called me late morning today. She said my surgery has been approved thru work comp, and said it was unusual to get it approved this fast and I told her what my lawyer told me. It is scheduled for Oct. 9. I have to be there at 5 30 am. Surgery is at 9 am. I have to go on the 28th of Sept. to do all my pre-surgery stuff. Which means surgery is six weeks away. >:D<
  • for you upcoming surgery! Please keep us posted on your progress as I am facing the same surgery that you are.

    Be good!
  • To anyone who has had this surgery ( PLIF )L5/S1
    Would you have it again? Do you think it's a good thing? I have read on both sides of the fence,The Pros and cons. Is there an alternet to having surgery?
    I try to look at the bright side of it, But the bad side lingers in my mind. I scared and don't know what to do. Someone please help.
  • You have plenty of time to get ready for your surgery. It is best to not have to wait too long -- gives you too much time to think about it.

    When you have a 360 fusion, it can take anywhere from about 4 hours on. Sometimes they even do one side on one day and then go back in a couple days later to finish it up. But it is more common to do it all at one time.

    Did you read through the "sticky post" at the top of the Back Surgery page that details what you might want to have around you in post-surgery recovery? It is important to arrange your kitchen and bath so that what you use most often are at waist height. Same with the refrigerator. You will not be able to bend for quite some time, or to reach up overhead, so do some organizing now. Get a grabber if you don't already have one. You can get them online or at a drug store or "big-box store" and they are very helpful. You won't believe how often you will drop things, or the remote will be just out of reach, etc.

    My two other "must-haves" were a raised toilet seat and a satin bottom sheet for the bed. It is very hard to reposition your body after surgery and the satin sheet really helps in this regard. This can be satin PJs if you prefer, but I liked to wear two piece clothes like yoga pants and a pull-over Tee shirt so that I looked a bit more "dressed" incase people dropped in. That way I wasn't always changing clothes either...I just found it easier.

    Go through your house (areas where you'll be often after surgery) and clear a wide path in case you use a walker, which you probably will for a bit after surgery. Take up throw rugs, move cords, etc. ...whatever looks like it could get in the way.

    If you are able, I suggest you try to walk several times each day leading up to your surgery....It is important to keep up any conditioning you might still have. You don't have to go far, but it is important to try to keep the muscles functioning, the fresh blood flowing, etc.

    You might want to start your own new thread with any further questions you may have as you await your surgery. Many of us have had similar procedures and someone is bound to have some answers for you!!

    Maintain a positive attitude!! It is very important during the recovery process.

    Hang in there !!
  • gwennie17gwennie17 Posts: 2,912
    edited 06/17/2016 - 1:07 PM
    Your questions are a bit too vague to answer directly, but I would like to offer a few suggestions. I do not know your reasons for needing a fusion or for how long you have been having problems.

    It is important to consider fusion thoughtfully and to not rush into it. I would recommend getting several opinions from different specialists. Be sure you are consulting with fellowship-trained spinal specialists, so that you are receiving the best possible advice and care.

    Also do your research and learn about some of the newer procedures that are now available, particularly at the L5-S1 level.  and also about minimally invasive spinal fusion. These procedures are new enough that you might have to search for a surgeon who is trained in them...but it might be worth it. I cannot say as I had the old, traditional open surgery.

    Is it worth it? That depends, I guess. I had no alternative -- either live with the pain and the inability to walk more than 100 yards and have my world become smaller and smaller, or take the chance that surgery would improve my situation.

    Again, I wish I knew more about your condition...this comment may or may not apply...so take it for what it's worth.

    Too many people go into fusion or even back surgery in general without knowing what they are getting into. It is important to realize that spine surgery is a life-changing event. It is not like have an appendix removed, where they go in, take it out, sew you up and you recover. When you recover from the surgical process, you are "back to normal."

    This does not happen with spine surgery. Except in very exceptional circumstances, spine surgery does not restore the patient to the way he/she was prior to the injury or the onset of pain. It usually improves one's circumstances but does not bring one "back to normal." If you go into fusion expecting it to be a quick fix and that you'll be exactly like you were back when, you will be disappointed. In most cases, your condition will be improved, your pain will lessen and you will be better off than if you did nothing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, to some degree, it is a matter of expectations.

    Also, keep in mind, except for rare occasions, all spine surgery is considered elective. It is not done for life-saving purposes!! It is done for pain -relief and sometimes, for reasons of instability.

    You too might want to start your own thread on the Back Surgery area of the board. That way more people will see it and will respond to your questions.

    Good luck with your decision.
    xx Gwennie
  • All I can say is that if you are on the hands of some good doctors you will be fine. I passed through the same surgery 2 years ago and during the procedure I felt nothing. I woke up fine after that, with 2 months of payed medical vacation from my Clickbooth affiliate network company, and everything was alright after that.
  • One month and counting, I think the closer I get I get more nervous. Does anyone know out there how long it will be before I can start riding in a car after surgery, or be able to go to say the grocery store? Thanks.
  • Driving restrictions are determined by the surgeon and the type of surgery. I have my 6 week check up tomorrow and hope I will be cleared to drive. Some people drive within a few weeks, some don't drive for several months. I was not allowed ride in the car (except for the ride home from the hospital) for 2 weeks after surgery. Getting in and out of the car is one of the real challenges of post-op life.

    I'm assuming you will have a pre-op appointment with your surgeon or, as in my case, a nurse practitioner/case manager. I received an incredible amount of information from her about what to expect before, during, and after surgery including restrictions. Start a list of your questions and it take with you. I understand your nervousness; I was relieved once I had my questions answered.
  • 13 days and counting til my 360 fusion surgery. Ive got a list of questions for the nurse for my appt. on monday. Ive been reading that people need a toilet paper tong for after surgery, and flushable wipes? If so do they help,and will I need a walker following surgery? Thanks. Also getting scared, and nervous. Wont have any family until 2 day post op.
  • I did not use the toilet paper tongs or wipes and didn't have any problems with that - though I know some have. What I did not expect to need but was SO glad the hospital sent home with me was a walker! It helped tremendously when getting up and down off the sofa, out of bed, etc. It also gave me a sense of additional stability those first few weeks.

    If you find when in the hospital that "wiping" is a problem the nurses may be able to help you with a solution - especially if they regularly work with spine surgery patients. If not, ask to see a physical or occupational therapist before you leave the hospital. (I think many fusion patients work with a PT in the hospital as part of the preparation for going home.) They should be able to help you.

    Best wishes for your surgery!
  • Thanks for the input. I have a whole bunch of questions for my pre-surgery appt on Monday for the nurse. I cant believe it will be here before I know it. Ive been seeing alot of threads on here about the walker. I bet it will come in handy, this is a work comp injury, so hopefully they wont be jerks about me getting the things I will need. I am going to wait to get my supplies until after surgery. I am going to a bigger hospital than what we have here at home.
    I am having a 360 fusion on L4-S1 on Oct.9 I have to be there at 530 in the morning, surgery isnt til 9. I am hoping things will go by quickly. I am going to ask for pain meds, and some not remember anything drugs til I get up to my room. Just make me sleepy and I will be allright, lol.
  • There are some supplies that you can probably get through your hospital's home health department - for example, the walker. Do, however, ask ahead of time about that and other things like a grabber, shower chair (I loved mine when I was finally allowed to shower - 14 days after surgery!), and other things on the list that you will probably want. You will want to have them there waiting for you when you get home! One of the things I loved was an inflatable shampoo bowl - knowing I would not allowed to shower for 2 weeks I knew I could not go that along without washing my hair - and that leaning over a sink would not be an option. The inflatable bowl has a hose that allows it to drain into something nearby - like a trash can. My husband - bless his heart! - put the shampoo bowl under my head and washed my hair by pouring water from a pitcher. It saved my sanity!

    Gwennie's advise about having everything possible ready in your home for your return is so important. It will make things so much easier for you and for the folks taking care of you. I really underestimated what I needed to do to have things ready - fortunately, a friend who had had fusion surgery came to stay for 10 days after my surgery - she really helped my husband get the house much more accessible to my needs than I had done. Again - the post-op must have's is an excellent resource!
  • Well its almost here, 4 and almost a half days til my 360 fusion surgery. They are doing both at the same time. I talked to my nurse about the things I will need, and she said that PT and OT will evaluate me while I am in the hospital. And if I need anything they will send it home with me. Megb, I didnt know about the shampoo bowl, where did u get it? I also wont be able to shower for two weeks, due to staples in both incisions. I was going to get either no rinse shampoo or a shampoo cap from our local walmart. I also have a bed side table, and our couch has a hide a bed, so I will be able to "sleep" on it, no pun intended. Surgery is scheduled for 7 15 am Friday morning, and I will have a ton of help for after surgery when I get home.
  • I am having a PLIF done on 11/5/2009. I would like to hear from people who have already had them done.

  • Hello all! I had an L4-5 ALIF on 11/6/2012, and am doing better than I thought I would be! The pain is significantly less than I had anticipated. I find that the pain is the very worst when I first wake up in the morning. Some mornings it's quite a process to get out of bed. After that, the rest of the day goes pretty well.....until evening/nighttime comes. Does this happen to anyone else who's had this procedure? Also, my incision (midline underneath my belly button) is pretty tender directly underneath my belly button. I find my biggest challenge is not lifting more than allowed (my surgeon and PA told me not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for 3 months). I am not used to asking for help and depending on others. Anyway....was glad to find this website and forum and would welcome any comments/suggestions! Thank you in advance, and God bless!
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