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Wanted: TLIF Post Ops

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Can you tell me how your recovery went?
How much recovery time it entailed?
What was the hardest part about it?
Would you do it again?
What did you wish your family knew?
What help did you need afterwards?
Do you have any limitations?
What do you wish you knew before having the surgery?
Was your bone graft done from hip or pelvic?

I am having TLIF surgery here in the next month or two. Doctor wanted to meet with my kiddos and hubby before doing the procedure. That appointment is scheduled next week. I will be having two levels done. Apparently I not only have spondylothesis in my L5, but also in my L4, it's unstable causing huge issues in life. I have done everything I can to avoid surgery--but now I am wishing I didn't. I am looking forward to getting this area of my life fixed-so that I can have my life back again. Any suggestions, comments and recovery stories would be so very appreciated!!



  • hi there, im 12 days out of a tlif fusion and decompression of l5 s1 with an additional spacer l4

    first thing i can say is, when i woke from surgery, i found i didnt have a catheter in and i was bursting for a wee all the time, i couldnt go on a bedpan and had to get up on a commode 5 times during that first night....i strongly suggest you insist on having a catheter.

    i had issues with morphine etc because i cant tolerate it at all, and the pain pump was removed by 9pm the evening of the surgery, if you have no problems with painkillers all good for you there, as this was probably one of my worst problems at the hospital, and now at home.

    i stayed at the hospital 4 days after my surgery, and its absolutely amazing how quickly things come back and get easier. by the time i left the hospital, i could walk and get in and out of bed and turn without the nurses help. there were times where i was stuck for a long time, but with patience i managed to succeed.

    my surgeon works on the basis of no aids and no restrictions, so no walker, sticks, back brace, nothing. im glad now, as i think i wouldnt have come on so quickly relying on these things, but it is a little hard in the first place. i did get a grabber, and a raised toilet seat and handles from occupational therapy, which i found absolutely essential items for the home. make sure you get these things, even if you have to buy them.

    plenty of cushins around the bed, that you can grab and place around and under your legs etc to get comfortable, im needing them slightly less now, but early on you will need them.

    i have to be honest, i scoured this site and forum for weeks before my surgery, and it helped me no end. i will say though, my experience of the surgery is, the day you wake up is horrible, then every day after that things get better at an amazing speed until your at a point where things are ok, and im really pleasantly surprized how well i feel for 12 days out of a big surgery. i can shower, walk sit stand turn in bed all unaided, i can do my laundry with my grabber, was dishes, make meals etc unaided. i cant drive yet but ive been shopping with my partner and also been for a ride just for pleasure, as long as you pad the seat of the car nicely and take your time getting comfortable, a car journey is fine, and its nice to get out.

    feel free to pm me at any time, i know im only a little ahead of you, but im always asking others who have had this operation before me how they are doing.

    worst of all are the leg pains in the nights that wake me up, but the more i can move about in bed, the less they are troubling me,

    dont worry, really, recovery is a very long process, but feeling ok takes no time at all!!

    take care
  • i forgot to say, with a tlif, the surgeon takes away one of your facets, and some of the ends of the vertebrae being fused....this is the bone they used in my cage between my vertebrae, so i had no bone graft taken from my hip or anywhere else, and a bit of bmp was added as necessary

  • I'm so glad to hear something positive about a fusion. My doctor has talked a little bit about one, but hasn't actually said I need one yet. I still have leg pain from a laminectomy I had 10 months ago. The leg pain has gotten slightly better, but is by no means gone. I fear the thought of a fusion because of all the horror stories I've heard.

    You said you're 12 days out and doing great. That's awesome. Does your back feel different than it did before surgery? I mean, with instrumentation, does that make it feel funny? Can you squat down to pick things up, or not yet? Just curious in case I opt for this route. I have to see my ortho next week to go over a nerve block I had. Then we'll probably discuss what's next as far as surgery or other tests.

    Thank you for sharing your positive experience.

  • Mind you now, everyone heals and deals at a different pace and i am just sharing to shed some light on how my surgery went. I had L5-S1 TLIF with disc spacer, and fusion between L5-L4. I remember coming out of surgery in alot of pain; my first thought was, why do i have a catheter.Insist on this, because getting in and out of bed for the first 5 days was rough, and sleeping was a luxury.I too had issues with the PCA( pain pump) they gave me dilaudid, and i didnt handle that very well.. nausea was the worse; the switched me to percocet orally, and that helped a bunch. On day 3, they wheeled me down to P.T. and had me climb stairs, sit on the toilet,and what not to see what i would need at home. I went home with a raised potty seat, and a walker. Mind you, i was only 37 at this time, and felt like an old man. By days 4 and 5, i was able to get in and out of bed by myself, and walk the halls about 10 times a day; walking helped with the tightness and made my back feel better. You have to have a great support system behind you at home; get the "hip-kit" which includes the grabber, the plastic shoe laces, and all the other good stuff. My recovery total was probably around 2 months; off work for a total of 3 months. This is only cuz i have a high demand job, so, once again, i state it depends on the individual. As far as bone grafting goes, they used BMP and some of the bone from the vertebrae's themselves; unfortunately, my graft did not hold and the fusion failed. Less than a year later, i was back on the operating table, having a tear-down fusion, PLIF, with new screws and rods, L3-S1 to insure fusion takes place. A year later, i am totally fused and feeling better. The second surgery, PLIF, was almost 5 hrs. long, because the first 2 hrs. was spent on removing all of the scar tissue from the previous surgeries that had taken place, 4 total. I hope this helps, and if in doubt, get a second opinion, and make a sound decision. Hope this helps
  • Hi

    Everyone heals differently and it also depends on your health before the surgery (are you fit? overweight? smoker? etc). I had my first back surgery in 1999 for L4L5 disk herniation and my disk tore again in Nov 2009. I had the surgery done on 16 jan 09...which means I am 9 weeks now. I was in the hospital for 2 days. When I came out of surgery, I was in pain but controllable pain...just more of a massive headache due to the GA. Was given pain killers for the first night to sleep but that rejected it on the second as I could take the pain...but like I said everyone is different. My pain was more on the cut and the leg pain. But my pain in my legs was considerably reduced.
    I was doing my phisio on my 2nd day (walking about 20m with brace). But pls take it slow cos there is a long way to recovery and you dnot want to push. Always have your phisio around for the first few days. When I was discharged, I was given lyrica and arcoxia for the nerves and pain....which I slowly reduced for 1 mth. I saw the surgeon after 2 weeks and he said that I could start swimming. But always talk to your phisio once your doc gives the ok to work out how much to do. Never push till your ody is in pain and rest when you can. I am still on medical leave and have be seeing my doctor every month.....I would do this surgery in a heartbeat so my leg pain is slowly getting better everyday. Dnot expect a miracle unless this is your first surgery as the pain take time to go away as you nerve takes a long time to heal...as long you are better that before you are on the right track. My bone graft was not from the hip or pelvic but from the surronding bones from the vetebra that they had to remove to access the area. Ask your doc exactly what he is doing to do and since it is a major surgery ask a second opinion if in doubt. I did and I was confident when I went for the surgery as the 2nd doctor told me exactly the same thing/procedure that he would do. Of course there will be pain when you bend and stretch but it get better every week... Good luck

  • Hi, I had a 2 level TLIF and laminectomy last summer on L4-S1. I was fused at L5-S1 and had a cage put in as well as titanium rods and screws. I spent 5 days in the hospital-4 were in ICU. I developed a spinal fluid leak that required a blood patch procedure where blood is drawn from your arm and reinjected into the epidural space in order to plug up the leakage. I was on a PCA machine too and was stuck in bed with a drainage tube coming out of my back and a Foley catheter.

    The time is the hospital was kind of a blur to me because I was sleepy all the time and constantly interrupted by staff coming in and out. I never was "walked"- no PT and not even a trip to the bathroom. However I was released and recovery at home was a trial; the pain was intense and the sciatica was still ongoing. I was even given anti inflammatory medicine early while still fusing for a brief time to get things under control. Eventually the incision pain improved but I still had the same back pain and sciatica as before. PT was brief due to it causing me a lot of pain and I wasn't doing well.

    Well, that's my experience with this surgery and unfortunately not everyone gets relief afterwards. The surgery was technically successful but for some reason some people get better, stay the same, or get worse with back surgery. It will soon be a year since I went through this and my problems haven't gone away. I do have a complication from the surgery in the form of scar tissue that is binding on the nerve. It's very important that you research all you can about your condition so that you know what to expect down the road. Take care and I hope your surgery is a success.
  • thank you so much for your response! The feeling ok takes no time at all is very encouraging. I hope and pray you continue to recover!
  • Thank you Tony, it does help. I am concerned about the bone graft from my pelvic--(I have cysts in my pelvic bones) it's something I am going to ask the doc on Thursday. Doc says my surgery will last about four hours and I will be in a brace for 6 months. I've noticed thru research on here that the brace no needed--that it seems to make no difference. I already use a grabber when the pain is high. I also use lumbar supports on chairs etc. I haven't been able to sleep in a normal position since last May. I hope that you are doing alt better Tony. I'll have to read up on your posts.
  • Thank you Red... I have been working on pre-surgery things--such as making myself walk more often. Other than daily duties. Working on losing 20 pounds--I gained after our daughter's murder. I can take it off and put it back on all in 8 weeks.. haha. So I need to keep it off. I know extra weight adds to pain and can reduce recovery pain. This doc is my second opinion doc. What's nice is he told me he didn't have it nearly half as bad as me and he had the surgery done on one level after dealing with the pain for 4 months. The first surgeon I went to did one levels only and scared the life out of me--but he didn't explain that he isn't really experienced at two levels of spondy. Thanks again for the advice, every bit helps... Keep me posted on how you are doing. Take care!
  • Thank you meydey.... I am so sorry that your surgery didn't work. As hard as it was for me to read your post, it is something that could happen. My doc says 80% odds that my pain will be gone. I do have to look at the other 20% for it is a possibility. One I need to consider for not only myself, but all my kiddos. I've had to have a blood patch done before after having a epideral done for my neck-- 3 days after. I hope and pray that relief will come for you.
    take care...
  • Thank you for all the info. Having TLIF tomorrow the 25th of March, a little freaked, but am hoping for major relief. I did get a grabber ,toilet seat so no bending for me.I really hope they help me with the walking and sitting. I am a newbie to the site and can say u all r great, very knowlegeable.Thanks, Kellie Hopeful!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Thank you for all the info. Having TLIF tomorrow the 25th of March, a little freaked, but am hoping for major relief. I did get a grabber ,toilet seat so no bending for me.I really hope they help me with the walking and sitting. I am a newbie to the site and can say u all r great, very knowlegeable.Thanks, Kellie Hopeful!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Harleybabii.... I will be following your recovery. Extra prayers will be going out for you!!!!
  • csp--it's great to know that others are doing well with having surgery done. Reading thru the forums have helped me to come to my decision. I hope that your medical care will help you to make your decision. Please keep me updated..
  • I didn't mean to be a killjoy or discourage you about this surgery in any way. I really hope it brings you relief so that you can go back to your normal life. You will need a lot of help afterwards and someone should be with you all the time for at least two weeks. I have to ask, do you really have 10 children? Will family and friends be there to help you guys out? I hope things work out smoothly for you and your family. Take care :)
  • I have been reading through the posts and just wanted to mention that the surgeon you select will have a specific way of doing a particular surgery. This will be the way that he feels he has the greatest success rates...and this method may differ from surgeon to surgeon. If, for example, you are dead set against wearing a brace, then you need to find a surgeon who feels the same way. Do not expect to go to a surgeon who routinely braces his patients and tell him you want him to do your surgery but you will not wear a brace. It just doesn't work that way -- and, for good reason.

    We are just laymen and do not know enough about the intricacies of the spine to be able to say one way is better than another. He will have a very good reason why he does something the way he does. In this example, maybe he uses fewer rods and pedicle screws than the surgeon who does not believe in bracing. If you insisted on not wearing a brace, you would be putting his work at risk because he has designed his surgery to take into account the extra support the patient would have from a brace during the critical healinig period.

    If certain things matter to you, you should make sure you and the surgeon are on the same page. Otherwise, you should have other consultations until you find a surgeon who will do it the way you want.

    This pertains to the use of BMP, too. Some doctors will not use it and will insist on a bone graft. Again, you should know this prior to the surgery so you could readjust your thinking, or find a new surgeon!

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that in most cases you only have one choice to make and that is in choosing your surgeon. Once you have made that selection, he or she is the one calling the shots.

    When I had a lumbar fusion last year, I was ready to book a surgery date with a surgeon that was associated with a large university program. He has a fabulous reputation and I liked him very much. As I was ready to select a date, one of his staff mentioned in passing that the surgery would be a "360" -- that is going in from the front, and then performing a second surgery from the back. After I got home and thought about it, I felt that was unnecessary for what was wrong with me...and I ended up going with another guy who had said he would do a PLIF. I could not have stayed with the first doctor and had a PLIF because he did not feel that was the right way to approach my issues. I felt otherwise, and selected another surgeon that I had already consulted with.

    One more thing: bear in mind that people have a fusion due to different problems. I imagine your surgeon is telling you he will use a brace because you have spondylolisthesis as well as other issues, and he knows that your spine is already unstable. If he is planning on trying to realign your spine, he probably wants to provide you with as much support as possible, as your back is being asked to do more than someone who is having a fusion for disc problems or stenosis.

    I will be eager to hear how your appointment goes. Sorry this is so long!

  • Hi meydey... I wasn't discouraged at all. ;) I have nine kiddos and one granddaughter. I have seven left at home. I will be having family help, right after surgery. It's good to know about the 2 week thing. I worry about after my family goes home--normal activities like laundry--when I can tackle it again.
  • No sorries needed! The more infomaton I have the more I can plan for. That does make sense about the brace. Doc says I am an excellent canidate for surgery--he is mostly worried about my recovery, beings I have such a large family.
    thanks for your comments and I will update you.

    take care...
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