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Post op checkups, how long?

candle99ccandle99 Posts: 279
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had my 5 1/2 month postop checkup yesterday on my L3-L5 fusion w/pedicle screws PLIF. I'd had an ALIF on L4/L5 with cages only back July last year. Well, the NS pops in after the nurse and looks at my chart, hands me the xray disc (didn't look at them?) and then says, well I'm leaving your next appt. open, just call us if you need us. I was so flabbergasted I didn't say anything. I had had to wait from 1pm until 4:30pm to see him and that's all he does. The nurse had gotten all the answers about my aches and pain and how I was doing...said everything appeared to be going good this time. But, then he just practically brushes me off???

I was thinking that I'd at least have checkups until the year mark was up? Is it becuase I had the ALIF last July with cage movement and pain, that now the PLIF in December was the fix and he's done with me? I want to know if I'm fused yet. I wanted some recognition that I'm still going through some issues sitting for long periods of time and spasms. From myself looking at the xray disc after I got home last night, I can't really tell if there's bone in the cages or not and if the screws are still straight and okay. I'm really disappointed.

What would you guys do?


  • That seems a bit abrupt in your case. But if he said he leaves it up to you, he left the door open. So if at 6 months or 9 months or whenever you feel the need to talk to him, make another appointment. At least until he tells you that you are fusing well you should have some contact with him. Now my OS discharged met at 5 months, but I was doing very well, had no complications, and was more or less fused, although he said I'll continue fusing up to a year. So I may make an appointment in May (my one year anniversary) just to make sure my fusion is complete. O know that some people have a long-lasting relationship with their surgeon.

    Good luck,

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    Just sounds like your doctor is leaving it up to you. I think this is more common for people that have had prior spinal surgery. Doctors assume that the patient knows when to call and say there is a problem. If things are going well, then let things slide. I think doctors are not all that concerned regarding IF the fusion took.. Most figure on time is doing that and IF there was a problem, the patient would know something is wrong.
    But they should still know that you are having some issues.
    The problems with sitting after a long period of time might be something that you almost have to accept as being a way of life.
    Its the problems that seem un-natural or severe that should always be brought to the attention of your doctor
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • My husband had had an ACF and he saw his NS for two years, so when I told him that I'd been left to my own decision, he was floored, especially with all the problems and then the revision surgery that I had. I was thinking that with the hardware, I shouldn't worry too much about fusion if I'm not dying with pain in that area.

    I am having alot of pain in my neck still. My MRI for that showed spondylolsis at C5/6 with a moderate disc bulge causing spinal stenosis. I'm mailing my disk to this same guy to review for me for that. When I tried to see him for my neck several months ago, he brushed me off with a pred-pack and wouldn't listen, so I'm not really into him doing another surgery on me. But, I figure if he'll give me a surgical opinion on my MRI views then I'll at least get something from him. I just forgot my MRI disk Tuesday when I saw him. I've never gotten that "personal" feeling from anyone on his staff and he always has an overloaded office waiting. He is a good surgeon, but that's all that's going for him and I guess that's all there has to be. But his aftercare sucks and his communication skills too.

    My GP has me scheduled for a nerve study and is trying to refer me to a new NS for another opinion on my MRI of my neck.

    Sigh! All of this is so aggravating and stressful. If you didn't have problems before, you will after dealing with any of this back/neck stuff, huh?

    Ron, I've wanted to PM you about your thoractic story. What were your symptoms when that rose it's head? I'm a programmer too and sit all day keying, and I have rib cramps/catches and spasms alot lately and a deep burning over my right shoulder blade, really underneath it. I was assuming all of this was from my neck issues, but it makes me wonder. Can you share or is there an old post or is it in your Ron's story link?

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    The first indications about having Thoracic problems, came out of what we initially thought was a heart attack.
    In the middle of a night, I woke up with chest pain, it felt like someone was sitting on the middle of my chest. I had trouble with normal breathing. We went to the Emergency Room and they admitted based on clinical observation, but nothing showed a heart problem. A couple of days after, I went for a stress test which I did well on. A couple of months later I was having upper shoulder pain and in between my shoulder blades. I had cervical problems in the past, but this was not like that. Finally, I went to my PCP and based on my previous spinal history just started me on Physical Therapy, Rhobaxin and Vicodin. It was during Physical Therapy, that my therapist talked about my pain. I explained about what seemed like a heart attack. She laught a bit and put her thumb in the middle of my chest and pushed.
    "Did it feel like that!"
    It was the exact pain! Turns out it was as they identify as T4 Syndrome. Then came MRI's, which showed T1 and T3 as being herniated. 8 months of PT and I got that into order, sort of. But then in the winter of 2006, with all the snow, I had to help my neighbor move his snow plow off if his ATV. I knew it that night that I did more damage.
    Herniated T7 & T8.
    The upper Thoracic discs seem to present themselves in the base of your neck and in between your shoulder blades and could radiate up to your shoulder. It is a stabbing burning pain different what I suffered before my cervical ACDFs
    The mid to lower T-Discs show up differently. I felt the pain turning side to side, as if I had bruised a rib and sometimes into my groin area.

    Melissa, Thoracic disc problems are a nightmare. Because they are so difficult to treat and get relief. If you suspect you have Thoracic disc problems, talk it over with your doctor to see if perhaps a MRI of the thoracic area might make sense.

    Trouble is , if it does show Thoracic disc problems, then you are faced with a bigger problem.
    Thoracic disc surgery is by far the most complicated of spinal surgeries and only recently have they moved out of the stone ages into newer techniques.
    When they told me there were going into the front, crack my breastplate, deflate and move aside a lung to work on tht T-disc, then finish up, back out....and there was no guarantee how successful the surgery would be or if it would even reduce the pain..... It took me all of 10 seconds to say NO.

    If you have other questions, just let me know, I will be glad to answer them the best I can
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I hurt when I breath in/out but it doesn't feel like it's in my front at all. It feel like it's inside me alright, but like I've been speared with a spear. LOL. hurts to laugh too. My xrays of my lumbar fusion from Tuesday showed the lowest T's and they were close together laterally, so I wonder what the upper ones look like. I've been laying in the dentist chair for a cleaning and had to get up due to a catch feeling (spasm?) in my upper back. This past weekend, I was walking around outside the whole Saturday with my arms over my head trying to pull out the rib catches. The minute I'd put my arm down and breath, it'd catch again.

    The pain today has moved a bit towards the center of my back right across from the bottom of my right shoulder blade. I used to pop there, like from leaning back or from my husband squeezing me, but I don't pop anywhere that way anymore. My knees pop and my shoulder and neck, but it's NOT pleasureable anymore and not on queue.

    Wow, sounds like you've had a rough time of it. I can't imagine having all of that while trying to work at the computer. I guess you have to jump up and walk around alot?
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