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Stroke? Is it Possible

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello all, first let me say that this site has beewn a godsend for me if for nothing else the comraderery and support shared among complete strangers is great. I know just reading the posts has helped me learn and survive this whole fusion ordeal.

In 2007 I had a TLIF at L4/L5. The surgery was on Sept 25, 2007. Around June or July 2008 there was little or no improvement in my pain I had an appointment with my ortho doctor with x-rays, CT and MRI. My Dr./Surgeon declaired at this time that there was absolutely no sign of a fusion starting to take place. He couldn't explain it other than sometimes it happens. He told me I could wait and see if the fusion eventually started or I could opt for another surgery. This time he recommended a 360 or circumferential fusion where he would remove the TLIF hardware and perform an ALIF and PLIF addressing the problem from both front and rear. After long consideration I decided on the 360.

I had the 360 fusion on Election Day, Nov 4, 2008. I must say that after the 360 I was almost immediately able to tell improvement. I asked why he didn't do this procedure in the first place and he told that he wanted to, but the insurance company insisted on the "cheaper" procedure first hoping that it would take care of my problem. There is still some minor pain occasionally but I think this time they got it right. Once in a while I may take a Darvocet or Vicodin, but less and less. I try to 'tough' it out an do without medication.

That's a quick history of what I've been through over the past couple of years, but not my present concern.

I was wondering if it is possible that during one of the surgeries (I'd say the 1st in 07) that I could have had a mild/minor or 'silent' stroke?

The reason that I ask and am concerned is the fact I occasionally loose my balance and have actually fallen twice (my ortho dr. assures me that the surgery in no way affected my balance). I can no longer type like I could before my surgeries (especially with my left hand. It's taking me forever just to type this short message.). In high school I played drums. Was actually fairly decent. Not great but OK. I can no longer do something as simple as a drum roll. Granted HS was over 35 yrs ago, but some things you don't forget. My speech is sometimes slured and garbled. I cannot enunciate some words clearly. I am always having to repeat myself. More often than not lately I find myself avoiding conversations because I don't want to sound silly having to repeat myself all the time. When driving I find myself drifting to the left and difficult to stay in my lane. It's becoming more difficult for me to judge braking distance and I often brake harder than normal. If it weren't for ABS on my vehicle I'd probably often skid to a stop. I've had to give up riding my motorcycle because I no longer feel safe due to balance issues.

These are just a few reasons I feel as though I could have had a mild stroke. It all seems to be limited to my left side.

Are there any other conditions thatcould have these symptoms? Does this sound like it could be symptoms of a stroke?

Thanks for any insite that you may be able to offer.


  • Have you told your doctor about ALL of your symptoms? What about your GP? Even a mild stroke, called a TIA, will usually show up on a MRI of the brain. During surgery you are heavily monitered and the chances of it happening without the anesthelologists knowledge would be slim. But....you never know. And we all know that I'm no doctor!

    Don't give up until you have answers. Good luck to you.

  • I would tell your Primary Dr about this and you'll need an MRI or CT of the brain to see if indeed you had a stoke and what can be done. Also retraining of your hand and speech usually is done at a stroke clinic. Also it's important your Dr know so that if it was a stroke or Trans Ischemic Attack then there would be further steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. Take care and hope you inform your Dr.
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I hope that you see your Dr soon and that you get the answers to your questions..and also that this is nothing serious.I wish that I had a better post for you,but I wanted to tell you that I'm glad your 360* was successful.

  • I have a history of TIA stoke which affects my vision. My PCP recommended a Neurologist. The Neurologist told me what part of the brain was affected. He ordered lots of tests. All came back neg. No cause for the TIA strokes has been determined. The Neurolist agrees with my heart doctory that I should remine on blood thinners.

    Good luck to you.

  • Thursday, May 7th, I went to my orthopedic doc for my 6 month checkup for my 360 surgery back in November. He took x-rays and gave me paper copies. The fusion / bone graph is clearely taking place and he told me I didn't have to return for any further visits unless I started having problems. I'm pretty much pain free and well satisfied with the results.

    Last Friday, May 1, I had a CT/CAT Scan as a first step in finding out what is going on with my other problem which is the main subject of this series of messages. Also on the 7th I had an appointment with a neurologist to interperate and explain the CT. On the CT 'movie' going down from the top of my head everything looks normal until you get to my cerebellum. The CT Scan rulled out either a Stroke or Tumor. It also rulled an anurism . My Cerebellum is showing signs of shrinkage or atrophy, thus the problems with my balance, speech and uncoordination of my left arm. The nurologist put me through a series of motor skill test and also a DWI type test. I failed all of them miserably. The doctor believes I have:
    Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) but will not know for sure until I have an MRI of the brain and cervical spine and also a DNA blood test.

    I honestly hope it isn't Spinocebellar ataxia as I've learned doing research on the net that it is progressive (gets worse over time), I will more than likely end up in a wheel chair in 12-18 months, there is no cure and there is no treatment. I do have all the symptoms of the disease but I am hoping it is something less severe and treatable. I am a bit concerned about the cerebellum shrinkage though.

    Wish me luck!


  • I'm glad you were able to get some clues as to what is going on, and I do wish you lots of luck.

    I've not heard of SCA but I hope you do not have it. You will be in my thoughts.

    xx Gwennie
  • Congrats on your so far sucessful fusion. I am still waiting for the words, you are fused. As far as your other problem, I will pray that you get some better answers and things inprove for you.
  • I'm also glad to hear of your success with fusion. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers in regards to your other issues. I certainly do hope that whatever your diagnosis is, you are able to contend with it without undue hardship or pain.
  • Thank you everyone for keeping me in your thoughts. We have alreay come to the conclusion and facts, whatever the diagnosis, that we'll (my family and I deal with it.

    One thing that I have learned throuh my limited research and is the most disturbing to me is, if I do have SCA and it is prooven to be genetic, it isn't IF my son and grandson will get it, but rather it is WHEN will they get it. It is shown to show symptoms from 10yrs to 70 yrs. so it is unpredctable. Hopefully for their sake I contracted it through some kind of trauma to my C-Spine or cerebellum or that it is shown to be enviromental (chemical exposure etc.).

    Does anyone know of a support group/site like this one for brain issues?

    Thanks for listening.

  • I'm sure you and your family will deal with whatever diagnosis you have. I'm sorry about the genetic factor, if you do have SCA.


    Good luck, Kevin
  • Just read your thread. I'm glad your back is doing so much better this time around and I am very sorry to hear about the other issues. I hope you get answers soon. You're in my thoughts. Terri
  • Well it's been an extremely eventful past several months since I first went to see the doctor(s) about my 'other condition'. My speech slurring and garbling is getting worse as well as my balance/gait problems and left side weekness and coordination.

    I've been to my PCP who ordered blood tests and a CT scan of my brain which was normal except some minor atrophy in my cerebellum.

    My PCP sent me to a Neurologist which has ordered a couple MRI's with and without contrast of my brain as well as a DNA/Genetics test (expensive) because she suspected a disease called "spinocerebellar ataxia". A genetic disease with no treatment or cure which affects motor skills and speech. Luckily the DNA test ruled this out and the MRI's were unremarkable with the exception of the minor shrinkage of my cerebellum.

    On my own, I went to a 2nd Neurologist who ordered yet more blood tests and an MRA. (much like an MRI but looks at the arteries in my brain "Magnetic Resonance Angiogram". All was normal.

    The 1st Neurologist having no idea as to whats going on with me referred me to ANOTHER neurologist that specializes in Motor Dysfunctions (I havent seen yet) which is where I am at now.

    I should be (and am) thankful that spinocerebellar ataxia AND cancer have been ruled out as causes, but it is VERY frustrating not knowing what is going on.


    BTW my back is still doing well
  • Although I know it must be agony for you - not knowing what is wrong. But I must say it must be a huge relief to know some of the things it isn't.

    Please keep us updated on your condition. I shall say a little prayer for you. Hang in there.
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