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Two surgeries or one?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My predicament is this: I am slated to have a L5 S1 fusion and ProdiscL ADR done soon. Insurance does not cover ADR and would cost 18K out of pocket. Both discs are shot (discogram confirmed) but L5 S1 is the main culprit of my pain. I have been reading posts and am now having second thoughts about ADR. If is goes well then fantastic for me, however it seems a good deal of people have problems, BIG problems, and the revision can be life threatening. I want to avoid a double fusion at this time. (I'm 33 with two small children, and am or should I say was, very active before back probs). I am now considering having the fusion at L5 S1 and living with it until L4 L5 becomes a bigger pain in the a**, I mean back :) and having that fused later (like 40's or 50's) Any thoughts about the risk of having two surgeries, I feel like what's the diff, if I had them both fused then I would probably need L3L4 done in 10-20 yrs considering my lifestyle, so I feel I might be buying some time. Any thoughts please, maybe you can spare me the insurance appeal hell I am going through!


(herniated L4/L5 L5/S1 in the Air Force, have been through conventional treatment ringer for 3yrs with worsening symptoms, yada yada)


  • You have quite a dilemma on your hands, Joni. I can't really offer any advise, just let me suggest, if it is possible try to get another medical opinion. The insurance companies usually don't mind paying for that (some of them actually require it before surgery) I don't have any experiences with ADR myself, but I have been reading conflicting info about it here. Maybe another doctor will offer you other options. 18K is a lot of money, especially if the outcome is dubious.

    Good luck, I hope you find the answer that is right for you.

  • I just had one fusion and only had one level messed up. There is no way I would have two surgeries if I had the option the recovery is just too brutal.
  • I'm ahead of you Kin- already made an appointment with another Ortho for that reason. The way I see it is I will need another surgery down the road no matter what, b/c if I fuse L4L5 the next one is going to go next. I enjoy skiing, motorcycling, hunting (bow and gun), rollerblading, and lots more so I will be putting the pressure on my back- no matter what I decide, I will just have to be sure I am careful!
  • Had mine in November 2008 and I am so happy I did it. I had mine at L4/L5 with the ENDOSKELETON device. I was up and walking the floors and went home the next day. I haven't looked back since. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have had a great surgeon. My ADR was paid for in full by insurance or I don't think I would have been happy. Since we cannot predict our future I would get several opinions and do it all at once. My opinion only. Cannot imagine the pre-surgical pain every again and I feel for you. If I have to have more surgery down the road, so be it. Who knows what the future holds?I am back to riding motorcycle, training my dogs and working of course. Good Luck with the insurance company and Best Wishes to all
  • I have not heard of this device- I will be googling in a minute- (I was supposed to have ProDiscL). What state are you in? Blue Cross in NY does not approve ANY ADR because they feel it is experimental. I was hoping to get the L5S1 taken care of (fused) and maybe see if there is something new (or approved by BCBS) in a few years for the L4L5. I am very leery of a double fusion esp at that level, but I need relief. I ride too and miss it terribly!
    I am so glad to hear of your success, unfortunately for those of us seeking advice here find mainly adverse outcomes. Those like you are out living it up! :) It certainly gives me hope, thank you!
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