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Went to surgen

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
Hi everyone. Well i fanally got in to see a surgen. The end results will be that I am having fusion surgery in two weeks. The doc noticed that my spine structure is different than most in that the vertabraes doe not not line up correctly. Microdesectomy was what I thought I needed but the surgen said that if they do the micro they will end up cutting out about 50% of my disc because it is extruded so far, therefore due to the way my spine is it will eventually wear and tear the remainder of the disc very quickly resulting in a fusion surgery. He said the right thing to do would be the fusion now and get it all done in one shot. He said my disc has a lot of arthritus in it. So what they are going to do is take the whole disc out and put a plastic spacer in its place held with screws. He said than the bone would grow over this spacer in time and fuse the whole thing together. I am very scared of this whole thing and would like some feedback. Has anyone else had this done, and if so how are you doing? Thanks,


  • Are you going to see the second surgeon, or have you signed on with this one?

    There are many people on the board who have had lumbar fusion. There are a variety of ways to do it, using a number of different types of instrumentation. As you were probably told, it is a BIG surgery and involves a lengthy recovery...but if it is the way to resolve your problem, then you have a choice of either going ahead or living with the pain.

    The important thing is that you do your homework and know what you are getting into, that you know your surgeon is well-trained and well-qualified, that you trust him and have some rapport with him, and also, that you understand that the surgery, in most cases, will not restore you to the way you were prior to the original injury or onset of pain.

    Most people come through the surgery well. The first few days are no picnic, but your surgeon will keep you comfortably medicated. The recovery period varies greatly. It took me about three months to start to feel somewhat normal, and it takes longer to get your strength back. It takes up to a year to get a solid fusion and during that time, you need to be mindful of your condition...careful with picking up your little boy, etc.

    Try not to worry. Gather your information, do your homework and feel comfortable with your decision. Then put yourself in the hands of the surgeon you choose, and look forward to life after fusion.
  • I have signed with the surgen. Has a great reputation here in Colorado. I have been told by numerous doctors and patients that absolutely swear by his work. I am just so nervous to go through such a major surgery, but at the same time my life is at a standstill. My wife is 4 months pregnant and is doing everything including taking care of our two year old and working a full-time job. I need to take care of business at get my life back. I think i feel comfortable with the surgen its just the whole surgery thing that I am not comfortable with. I just dont want to be messed up for life. It is amazing how emotionally and physicaly hard this whole situation is. I feel so bad for everyone that has or is going through this same thing. I just need to be strong and take care of my back. Thank you very much.
  • Good. It sounds like you've done some homework on the surgeon, and feel comfortable with him. I gather he was able to explain to your satisfaction why he is recommending fusion. Did he tell you if he will go in from the back or the front, or both? I gather it will be an open surgery? Most fusions are at this point.

    Do you know what the spacer will be? Did he say a "cage" or mention anything in particular? I am just curious...this is not something you need to know ahead of time. Once you select the surgeon, he will select what materials he is used to using and what he feels is best for your situation.

    I understand why you are eager to go ahead with the surgery. There's no point in waiting around when you know something will have to be done one way or the other. Some conditions require a fusion -- there just aren't any options, so, if you are comfortable with your surgeon's reputation, you might as well go ahead and get it over so you'll be ready for that new baby.

    Please start preparing yourself with the knowledge that fusion is a BIG surgery and it takes a long time to fully recover. During that recovery period, you will need to follow the doctor's restrictions, use common sense and learn to be VERY PATIENT. Healing takes longer than any of us thinks it should! During that time, you must avoid picking up your son. You will be restricted to lifting no more than a gallon of milk for a time...so get your son used to the idea that he will have to come sit next to you, rather than expecting to get picked up...and that for now, he cannot climb on you, bump into you, rough house, etc. I know that is really hard, but it is also really important.

    You might want to post on the Back surgery board located under "Treatments" with your questions and concerns. That way you will get many more responses! Also you can read through others threads. There are always people on there inquiring about fusion, how to prepare, what to expect, etc.

    You should read through the "sticky" at the top of the Back surgery board on things that are needed post surgery. It is a very complete list and you will be able to see which things you really need. The things that most people find really helpful are a raised toilet seat and satin (or at least, slippery) sheets. This may sound strange but after surgery, your muscles will feel really weak and it will be very hard to reposition yourself in the bed. At the hospital, I felt like I was velcroed to the bed. I was in so much pain and it was so hard to try to move my body even a little bit. As soon as I got home to my satin bottom sheet, it was so much easier. The alternative is satin or silk PJs --you don't need one of each category or you risk sliding right out of the bed!

    The other important item is a pad and pen or pencil to keep track of your meds. It is important to take your pain meds absolutely as prescribed, even if it means setting an alarm and waking up to take them. If you have meds that are taken at different times of the day and night, it is easy to get confused and forget if you took something or not.

    I won't kid you. The first week or even two for some people is not easy, but they will keep you well medicated, if you so desire. My 88-year old MIL had the very same fusion surgery as I had about a month after me last year. After her first dosage of morphine at the hospital, she refused to take anything stronger than a Tylenol as she hated the way she felt on it. I, on the other hand, took everything they gave me, and was on pain meds for 8 weeks at home. After that I didn't need anything.

    When you can resume work is up to your doctor and depends on what type of job you do...but for most it is somewhere between 2 to 3 months. You do not want to rush it as you do not want to mess up your surgery and have to have a revision down the road.

    You will do fine. I waited 3 years before I agreed to fusion, and it was the first time I'd ever been in the hospital except for childbirth. I had been reading on a forum similar to this and was absolutely terrified. I went in expecting the very worst and the whole experience turned out to be easier than I was anticipating. I really wasted a lot of energy worrying needlessly.

    Get yourself prepared. Try to walk each day if your pain permits it. The better shape you're in now, the easier your recovery will be. Develop a positive attitude. Patients recover much better when they are calm and centered. You will be in good hands and you will come through this just fine. When you think of questions, feel free to ask.

    There are a number of websites that show animated videos of a lumbar fusion, if you are curious what your surgeon will be doing.

    Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to share this info with you.

    xx Gwennie

  • He said that it would be through the back and he did mention a cage. He said either plastic or metal with screws holding it in place. Thanks a lot for your advice, and personal experience. It sounds like to me the most important part of surgery is the recovery. I have read numerous of times that you need to take it easy and listen to what your limits are. I will take all the time i need to recover so I do not cause any more damage or even reverse the whole surgery. Thanks again gwennie I will keep you informed.

  • That's just what I had...the cage with rods and pedicle screws. I can't tell mine is there and have no feeling about it being there. Mine is one level up from where yours will go -- L4-5...

    and a just had a partial laminectomy and foraminotomy to clean out all the gunk that was clogging up the foramen at S1. The fusion went well, but I still ended up with some sciatic pain in my right leg. I am still recovering and the jury is still out on whether this is going to help, as I still have the pain.

    The most important thing you need to know about recovery is rest and walk, rest and walk and have a great deal of patience and a positive attitude!!
  • if you haven't discussed pain mgmt post-op(when you are discharged) and if there are complications, God forbid, will the doc stick it out or dump you. It's bad to say but some do dump so the reality is to discuss it w/the doc before you are stuck with him/her post-op..

    Honestly Russ I have to say even if a doc has a "great reputation" it all comes down to how comfortable you are. Also I can't help but mention again like the previous poster, what about a second opinion? I had alot of complications post-op and would feel worse if I hadn't gotten a second opinion. I ended up getting 3.

    A one level fusion is much less complicated by a mile than multiple level but still should be a very LAST resort. My mom-in-law herniated big time like yours is and clearly at this point some surgical intervention had to be done in fact she had foot drop. She had a laminectomy/discectomy and got her foot back and did great for a year then the other side herniated no where near as bad but had a repeat discectomy and is doing great.

    My point if she had gotten a fusion right away she may have been still recovering a yr later and during that year her activity/life may have been pretty limited. She may end up having a fusion someday or her body may do it for her before that happens. She's bought some precious time not getting into that.

    You are very young and w/2 young kids I am just saying look at the whole picture if you have your mind made up and are comfortable moving forward that's all that's important. I just feel the need to share. Also, to suggest other things to think about so that you are very comfortable.

    If the vertebra do not align properly it is usually graded and doesn't always mean surgery. I am not trying to freak ya out on the contrary I am just giving you other options. You may end up with a fusion someday but would it be 3months, 1 yr, 2,3,5 yrs??? we don't know which I feel like docs should share. also they should share the success rates of fusions 50-90%. I obviously don't know if your doc did but if he had a let's do this and you'll be cured for life at 100% then I would be leary.

    Either way I hope you get some relief so you can help your wife. In 4 months as you know she'll be so big ang tierd...I've had 2 kids myself and was huge by the time I delivered...ahh the good old days of clearing my plate then having seconds :))( :))(

    take care
  • Hi Russ, which surgeon are you seeing?
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