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Bone Growth after fusion....

Christina69CChristina69 Posts: 534
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Here's a question....I went to the doctor for a checkup. Its been 13 months and theres no new bone showing on the x-rays. Hes gonna send me for a catscan tomorrow. Shouldnt bone show up on an x-ray after this length of time?


  • Typically, bone growth shows up very soon after surgery. Some people have been totally fused in three months, though most go six months.

    But, don't get down about it. Wait for the CT scan and doctors comments.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • If it's considered a failed fusion, what is the surgery like to correct it? I understand they go back in and try it again with larger screws the next time.
  • From what you've posted, it sounds like failed fusion syndrome, but a lot of doctors are hesitant to call it that.

    I haven't had revision done so I don't know from first hand what to expect. I think the first thing to establish is how they did the first fusion. Was it a PLIF, TLIF, ALIF, etc. The last study I read showed that ALIF had a better fusion rate since they can fully visualize the disk space from the front.

    Since you didn't fuse using your own graft, they may use a BMP mixture the next time. It's really hard to say what they will do. Obviously, if you all decide to do a revision, they are going to scrutinize any risk factor for not having bone growth (smoking, certain medications, bone growth stimulator, PT compliance, etc).

    The best thing to do is write every question you can think of down and ask your doctor on your next visit.

    Hope this helps.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • It was a PLIF. I got the Ct scan done today and the report as well.
    Here's what it said:

    Interpedicular screw fixation is identified bilaterally at the L5-S1 level. An intradisc stabilization device noted at L5-S1.
    Laminectomy defect seen at L5 level. Bone graft and hypertrophy identified bilaterally at the L5 facet joints. There is narrowing of the left neural foramen at the L5-S1 level.
    Although evaluation is limited on CT imaging, there is suggestion of diffuse disc bulges of the lumbosacral spine, L5-S1 level.

    Impression:Status post laminectomy, L5 level. Status post interpedicular fixation Bilaterally, L5-S1.

    Bone graft and hypertrophy contribute to spinal stenosis on the left L5-S1 level.

    Finding suggested diffuse disc bulges of the lumbosacral spine.

    ANy thoughts on what all this means?
  • Your initial comment made me think you had not had any bone growth, but from my non-medical interpretation of the report, it looks to me like the fusion worked a little too well -- that there is bone graft growing in areas that are supposed to be clear and open so the spinal nerves can pass through. On both sides, the facet joints at L5 have enlarged (taking up space) and bone graft and the increase in size are causing spinal stenosis (a narrowing) on the left side at the L5-S1 level.

    Do you have pain going down your left leg?
  • I personally wouldn't try interpreting the report. Leave that to your surgeon. Here is why; sometimes a radiologist reads an x-ray one way and the surgeon will see something different. My NS could care less what the radiologist said, he reviewed every film and did his own measurements and interpretations.

    This probably isn't the answer you wanted to hear, but when it comes time to interpreting medical reports, I leave it to the doctors. If it were written in plain text using non-medical jargon, that would be wonderful for patients!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I would like to know what you find out. Did the doctor say there was no bone growth - hypertrophy suggests overgrowth, I believe. I hope you get some good answers.
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