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Week away from surgery - ECG found a heart issue

NEBakerNNEBaker Posts: 53
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My fusion is scheduled for September 14: fusion of L4 L5 using BMP. I went to my general practitioner for my pre operative physical and a disorder called Wolff Parkinson White (WPW) was found. From what I understand, this means I have an extra electric pathway to the heart, which can cause my heart to beat faster at times. Which is odd because my resting heart rate is really, really low. Anyway, I'm scheduled for a cardio-lite (sp) on Tuesday with a cardiologist. I'm not so much freaked out over the possibility of WPW as I am that the surgery might be delayed. I was supposed to have surgery in May but then was delayed until September. The pain is really bad and I just need to get on the road to less pain.

Has anyone out there had a heart problem discovered at their pre-operative physical? How did this affect the surgery? Was it delayed?


  • Hi NEBaker, I had a bad ECG when I had my pre-op too. After my ortho consulted with my primary and a specialist my dr decided he had to do the surgery(I was in excruciating pain with other issues and there really was no alternative)so they scheduled it. I was fine. After surgery I saw a cardio again,the 3rd line of my ECG is still off the wall crazy, but every test is ok. I had another surgery nearly a year ago and again they had the specialist in surgery for safety issues but all was fine again!

    I don't know what my problem is and never heard of yours. Do you know anything about it or what they think? Everyone is different so take your drs. advice. I hope you do ok. Good luck with the tests next week and I hope they can schedule your surgery as planned! I know you must be nervous but we're here for you to talk to.

  • Hi NE Baker

    Hope your surgery goes ahead on the 14th and that it goes well.

    I haven't heard of WPW, but I have a heart murmer and several years ago, I had abdominal surgery and had no problems with my heart.

    Let us know how you get get on with the cardiologist.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Both my sons had WPW. My youngest had a worse case of it. My oldest had cardiac ablation (they use a catheter to reach the heart and burn the spot that causes the heart to beat too fast) at a Boston hospital to get rid of it. My youngest son's first attempt at it was a failure and he was on medication for several years. A pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital in Boston was able to approach the site on his heart from a different direction and was able to ablate it. He now is cured of it as well. When he had to have an appendectomy and hernia repair before being cured, a specialist had to be present during the surgery. Your low heart rate at rest is a definite symptom of WPW. When my youngest was asleep it would go down into the 30's. Both of my son's WPW faster heart rate symptoms were discovered during vigorous football practices.

    I assume you are older. I don't know if this will delay your surgery. You may just need to have a cardiologist available during your surgery.

    Best wishes to you,

  • Thank you very much for the comments and well-wishes. The worst thing is having to wait to find out if they will still do the surgery. I've been reading more about WPW and I'm comfortable enough to know what questions to ask when I see the cardiologist on Tuesday. I'm also happy to know that this is a condition and not a disease and with proper monitoring, it shouldn't interfere with my surgery, but we'll see. It will be interesting to see if I can walk fast or jog on the treadmill for the cardiologist since I can barely walk these days :/

    Marianne thanks for all the information about your sons. It sounds as if they have overcome their cardio woes.

    age: 41
  • Tomorrow is the day I visit the cardiologist to find out what to do about my heart problem and how it relates to my fusion surgery one week from today. I know it is just stress and nerves, but since I heard I have this disorder, WPW, I am so aware of my beating heart. Does that sound stupid? Heartburn, heartache, fast beating heart, all those things.

    My appointment is tomorrow at 10:00 am and will last about three hours. I have to walk and then run on a treadmill. Jokes on you doc...I can't run or walk fast. You better be super cute if you want my heart to race :) Seriously, how can they get my heart to race if I can't do what is necessary to elevate my heart rate.

    Another thing, no food or drink after midnight tonight. I'm a pastry chef. I get up about 3:00 am to bake goods for my restaurant. By 10:00 am, I've usually had two light meals and about 4 cups of coffee. Waaaaahhhh - I hope I can sip a little water and take a tylenol to get rid of my lack of caffeine headache.

    Really, please keep my heart in your head tomorrow around 10:00 am CST. I am scared, I'm not going to lie.

  • I know how you feel as I have been there so many times myself. I know it is hard, but dont worry about the test. They can induce the same results by a drug, its called a cardilite stress test. It is for people like you and me that cant because of backs or whatever. I had a scare with a T wave problem before a surgery. Had to go to a cardiologist 3 hours away. Turned out fine, and I hope yours is too. Try to concentrate on your baking, and while you are at it, a cheescake sounds really good right now ;)
    Seriously, Good Luck and I will be thinking of you and waiting for you to let us know how it all turns out.Heres a little hug for encouragment! >:D<
  • Hey, Have been thinking about you all day. How did appt go? Let me know. Been worried all day as I had to cancel a surgery and know how devistating it is. :? :? :? :SS :SS
  • Hi Robin--

    Good news and bad news. Let's start with the good news. My surgery is still on as planned. The bad news is that I will have a cardiologist on standby and a very bulky new heart monitor to wear for the next 21 days.

    I had a feeling that my GP was right, that I had the electrical malfunction in my heart known as WPW. I was prepared for that. I did some reading up and understood that if it did need surgery, that it was a relatively non-invasive ablation (through a heart catheter) of that extra "wire". However, my extra electrical pathway is right near the "junction box" of all the wiring that keeps our hearts pumping so it makes it just a little trickier. For lack of appropriate wording, a search and destroy mission is in order and while my electrocardiologist would like this done sooner than my fusion, he explained that really, it didn't matter which came first. He's going to check in with me prior to fusion surgery on Monday, will be on standby and will visit with me after fusion surgery as well. As a precaution, I was fitted for a heart monitor today and I am now wearing it. It's two simple electrodes: one on the right side of my chest and the other on the left side of my ribcage. My heart will be monitored 24 hours a day until surgery and then after while I'm in the hospital next week. My cardio is consulting with my ortho surgeon and another electrocardiologist to see if there is anyway to do the heart surgery via catheter next week as well.

    I'm so glad my fusion isn't delayed and I am so thankful for modern medicine.

    Sorry it took so long to respond. I never thought that appointment would take four hours -then I needed to go back to work and get some cakes decorated for a birthday tomorrow. Life continues... Thanks so very much for the positive energy today. I really appreciate it.

    Sometimes I just feel like I'm falling apart. This year, I've had a breast cancer issue, confirmation of fusion needed, now a heart problem...what's next? I long for the years when I only had the occasional cold or flu.

  • Well, I would say you did get good news and not so good news. The fact that your fusion surgery is not delayed is great. If you can be happy about surgery...I had to fight my ins co after they told me no the day before surgery and had to wait three months. So on that note, good for you. The thought of another surgery at same time, is interesting. I am glad you have a good cardiologist there and that they are so closely monitoring you. Maybe things happen for a reason and that being knowing about this problem before it became a issue in surgery! I think maybe decorating the cake was also good therapy for you after all that. Did you do the stress test? I will be trying to keep ya smiling with amusing little stuff this week, so it passes faster for ya.
    I have decided to have the tumor removed from my eye socket. I feel that it is just better to "get r dun". Wont have the constant worry. I have called my ortho today as he has connections with Rochester Mayo clinic,(he did residency there) and see what if there is a "superior" surgeon for this surgery, being it is so rare, than at University of Iowa Hospital. U of I is supposed to be the 5th in nation. But I want to know if Mayo is maybe better.
    Anyway, get your rest, and keep me up to date. Maybe 2010 will be a better year for both of us! :D ;) >:D< <:P <:P
  • Hi Kristen, I agree with you about the good old days when we only had the flu or something for a few days! On the bright side, I'm glad your fusion is still scheduled as planned so you can get make it a thing of the past and move forward! Good luck! I know you will be fine and everything will work out for the best! Take care this week, Keep busy double checking that you have everything you need and have it convenient to get to after surgery! I'll be thinking of you an checking in to see how it goes.

  • I'm no stranger to all those heart tests!

    I don't have what you have, but I do have what they call "Symptomatic PVC's". During my testing they thought I went into an arrythmia. Dr. says no, but the nurses said yes. I'm opting to side with the dr., even though he wasn't there - because I don't want to think the other ;)

    Don't worry (but you probably have already had the tests done and know already) about the running on the treadmill. If you can't run they just inject you with something that makes you feel like you just ran a marathon with lead weighted legs. I have ankle issues and can't run so they did that drug thing. I tell ya, that's some scary stuff - makes you feel really really lead-weighted. They are monitoring you the whole time though.

  • Thanks again for all the well-wishes. I had little time to think about things today as an employee called in sick today so I was flying solo in the kitchen for awhile today and was really busy. I guess this is good. I have the ability (thankfully so) to continue working though the pain, mainly because I know I have to when it's my own business. I have too much at stake - however, I am suffering now because of it - yikes!

    I don't recall hearing anything actually being called a "stress test" yesterday. I went to a heart hospital and they used technical terms for things so if you know the technical term, I may know if that's what they did. Mainly, this is what I did: I had an iv, I had pictures for about 15 minutes, I walked as fast as I could on a treadmill, I had more pictures, and finally, I got a snack for my effort :) I so deserved those ritz crackers and peanut butter. I'm so glad that I didn't have to have the drug-induced testing because that sounds like no fun at all.

    Funny story about the heart monitor: I had been wearing it for about 7 hours yesterday. It was 10:00 pm and I was sleeping. A doctor from the heart hospital called to see what I was doing. I said, "um, it's 10:00 at night. I'm sleeping". He replies, "so you are in bed and you are sleeping - nothing else". Nope - nothing else, just sleeping. He then told me that my monitor was going off and had gone off several times in the past 15 minutes so he was calling as he was concerned and wanted to confirm my activity so he could list that activity as a trigger on my chart. Haahaa - I think he thought I was doing something other than sleeping.

    Well wishes-


  • Hi Kristin,

    Good luck to you on your upcoming surgeries. My BIL had WPW (dx'd less than a week after the birth of his 1st child 23 years ago, MD thought the stress/excitement of her birth brought on the symptoms). The only 'cure' at that time was an open heart procedure. He opted to go the RX route w/ multiple heart medications, diet modifications (little/no caffeine, weight loss, limited alcohol consumption). Roughly 6 years later, the ablation technique had been developed/approved and he had it done at a well regarded medical center nearby. End result, he's been med & symptom free since that time, just sees his cardiologist every year for a checkup. Hope this helps
  • How has the last couple days been. Have you had any more calls from your heart Dr about too much activity? Hope you are getting things ready for your recovery and making sure you have everything at waist level in the bedroom bathroom and kitchen. It will make it so much easier on you to be able to feel a little more independant once you are able to do things for yourself. I just put stuff on top of the dresser for a while. That way I wouldnt bend. Hope you are having a good week...Keep smiling :D
  • My youngest's son's spot was close to that junction as well. Usually the catheter is threaded from a femoral artery to the heart for the ablation. His electrocardiologist at that time opted not to ablate. My son then went to another specialist who threaded the catheter from above the heart, through the subclavian artery, and was able to successfully ablate it that way!!

    Must be so cumbersome for you to have to wear that monitor all the time, but good that you are being closely watched. Best wishes to you in the upcoming weeks.

  • No recent calls from the cardiologist to check activity but it is the weekend before fusion surgery so who knows, maybe I'll give them reason to call ;P

    The last two days have been crazy busy at work. It seems that I am never going to get to the point where I am fine with going and leaving others in charge. So, I've decided "it is what it is", do what I have to do to get through the weekend and don't try to be a superstar. I have two wedding cakes this weekend. Tomorrow at 5:00 pm I should be done with the major work and only do limited things on Sunday just to make sure staff will have all the information they need to keep the cafe and catering operations going.

    I've been doing my best to get things in order for when I come home. Tomorrow or Sunday I'm pulling all my things from the medicine cabinet to a waist high shelf and putting things on the top of the dresser, etc. Robin, I'm kind of a control freak about having things in their place so this is going to be a battle for me. In addition, I have a 100+ year old home and there aren't many super modern conveniences. I have a claw foot tub to try to get in and out of and pull chain lighting in many rooms . I've extended the chains and I bought a step stool with a handle to help me get in the tub, but I am really going to have to rely on hubby for many things. Oh, and I still can't find a fitted satin sheet for my bed. It's a pillow top already and then we added a tempurpedic topper so it's really thick. I can find cotton sheets that fit but not satin sheets to help me slide in and out of bed. Robin, not sure if you are married, but if so, did your husband sleep in your bed with you right after surgery or did you stick with separate beds? We have full sized beds and I'm a little worried about being jarred - plus he is a horrific snorer so I think I may ban him to a guest room for a while anyway :)

    So, enough about me. How are you doing a week after your hardware removal? Are things a little better this time around? Also, I know your decision to remove the tumor behind your eye was a difficult one. I glad you have made a decision that you can be at peace with. What is the projected timeframe for this procedure? I've read a few of the replies from other message board people and it sounds like you have a few "been there" people that can give you some advice. Please keep me posted.

    Well, I'm going to go grill up some red meat. This Nebraska girl needs some protein.

    I'll touch base with you tomorrow after the 5:00 whistle blows.

    Best to you,
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