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ALIF- has anyone had this surgery?

SirenSSiren Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello. I'm Bex and I'm a 26 year old single mom of 2 young boys. I'm also a full time Fine Arts student. I'm fairly new to this back pain- this nightmare just started for me in March. So I feel like a baby in all this.
I have a herniated disc at L3-4, herniations with tears at L4-5 and L5-S1. I also have scoliosis, arthritis, sciatica and a fractured tailbone. I have pain and numbness that radiates into my left hip and leg. I also have cervical issues that have yet to be diagnosed.
My nerosurgeon wants to do an ALIF and said a few weeks after the ALIF he wants to add more hardware for stability. I won't have any down time for surgery or healing until next summer and plan on getting a second opinion. I have had x-rays, an MRI, EMG, mylogram and a discogram. I have tried PT and meds. I would like to try more consevative methods of treatment before going for the surgery, but my NS had no suggestions and obviously doesn't plan to send me to pain management. Any and all information anyone can provide for me would be helpful! Thank you in advance!!!


  • I'm basically looking for anyone who has had this surgery. Are you happy/displeased with the results? What was your daily pain before and now after surgery? Did you lose flexability in your spine? How long did it take to heal and become active again after the surgery? How long were you in the hospital? Stuff like that....
    I have a herniated disc just above where my NS wants to do the surgery. He plans to fuse L4-5 and L5-S1. I'm afraid that the pressure from the hardwear may make this worse over time. I've read that these fusions can cause neighboring discs to herniate or "go bad" so this would make the L3-4 disc REALLY nasty and I fear more surgeries down the road! PLEASE if anyone has any helpful information, let me know!!! Thanks so much!
  • I had ALIF at L5/S1 two months ago. I was in the hospital for 2 nights and 3 days. I could've come home a day early, but the surgeon came in before the physical therapist, and I didn't know how I would do since I hadn't gotten out of bed. I got out of bed and walked down the hall with no brace or walker. The therapist said, "You're not going to need us". I was tender, but I've never had any real pain. Before I went into the hospital I spent a year on a heating pad because I was in too much pain to do anything else. I couldn't garden or even walk my dogs.

    I am retired, but I could've gone back to work after 2 weeks. You will have the restrictions of "No bending, lifting (over 5 lbs), and twisting". Other than that, you can do what's comfortable to you.

    I had BMP and "Hardware". I have a plate and 4 screws. I would recommend this surgery to anyone who has the option. The incision is made in the abdomen rather than in the back, and the surgeon doesn't cut through any muscles. My incision was closed with Dermabond (glue), and I don't have any external staples or stitches.

    I wish you the best of luck. Send me a Private Message if I can be of any help.


  • I suggest you get atleast 1 more opinion from a surgeon who specializes in the spine. I would also exhaust all conservative methods before having surgery. Have you had injections? There are many types of injections that can be tried as well.

    I had ALIF L5/S1 on 7/1/08. I wish I had taken my own advice and got another opinion before having surgery. I suffered with back pain for over 6years and tried almost all conservative methods. I thought surgery was my best bet. In my opinion, having surgery is quite a gamble especially if you haven't tried all conservative methods first. I am not in more pain than before the surgery. I now have 2 fractured screws at the L5. I did feel a lot better a couple of months after my surgery but shortly thereafter starting going downhill. My mind would've been more at ease if I had another opinion before surgery.

    I've heard success stories from people having ALIF surgery. There are so many different factors that can come into play during your recovery. I'm not saying not to have the surgery. I am suggesting you get atleast 1 more opinion, do as much research as you can, take notes and keep documentation of all tests and appts you have including medications you've used or are using, as well as, looking into different types of injections. Have you tried physical therapy?

    You've come to the right place for help, support and understanding. You are your best advocate. Sorry for writing you a book. Please feel free to PM me with any questions, comments, concerns or just to chat. Good luck with your situation.
  • Thank you both for replying! I'm sorry its taken so long to get back- I've been crazy busy with the kids and school! I think somehow my condition is worsening and I'm becoming depressed. I would like neither to be true- but I guess I should see someone about it. My neuro kinda fired me for not being able to have surgery because I'm in school- it had only been 5 months since my diagnosis, so I don't know wht that is all about. Funny thing is- he told me I could attend...I don't get it!!
    I guess I'm still curious about how much flexability I will lose if I have the rods. I'm hearing more sories of people who are unhappy with the ALIFs.
    Thank you both for your help!! I'm getting a second opinion for sure!!
  • hi you- sorry you are doing worse. I had a 360 lumbar fusion in 9/09 and i am doing great. This surgery was 7 hours first they went through the front and then finished up with rods and screws in the back. i have little lose in mobility and can bend and stretch and exercise. i am working out 4 days a week and my back feels stronger then ever. i will however have my hardware removed. i started to fuse at 3 weeks per my xray films. i am glad and thankful that i have done this as my pain is very little is from the hardware. Randomaly tissue will snag on the screw heads- not painful but an odd feeling. keep us posted on what and when you decide.

  • Hi Siren,

    I am 2+ months post-op of a 2 level ALIF, L4-S1. Recovery is much easier than the posterior way. As for mobility I really can't say because I now have 4 levels in a row with plates, screws, cages, rods.....

    Those with one level ALIFs could give you a better idea of what range of motion they have. With 2 young kids you are going to need to be extra careful during recovery, a brace (though most of us hate them) may be a good idea to help remind you how not to move and keep you more stable while caring for them.

    Keep asking questions, we're here to help, Lisa
  • Thank you for replying! Its good to know I have people on here that I can ask questions/talk to! I haven't made a choice yet, but I know I need a new surgeon! So, baby steps. In the mean time I am suffering...BIG TIME. However, I'm keeping a positive attitude and moving forward with my life as much as I can! Thank you all for your advice and replies- I really do appreciate it!!
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