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Had PLIF 12/08, failed fusion, Surgery on 10/26 for a 360 Help!

katjankkatjan Posts: 48
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been lurking around this site for some time after my 1st fusion surgery on Dec. 2008. So many of the postings and comments have helped me so much. Though I have made comments, I didn't have a reason to add a new post, though now here I am.

My surgery in Dec 08 was with a NS, PLIF, (history details below); he continued to tell me I was fusing based on the xrays, though I have not been able to perform my job or sit more than 10 minutes in a chair without muscle spasms and burning pain in my lower back. By midday I am pretty much always horizontal. I am still walking, though the Drs don't sugest too much at this time since my harware is not stable and 2 discs are bone on bone.

In seeking a 2nd opinion, my new Dr., an OS, spine specialist, that I feel confident with and came highly recommended by my internist of 16 years. He will be doing a 360 to remove and replace old hardware, replace and repair discs that should have been done the first time. It is a much bigger surgery I am aware.

I am rambling on as I need some support from those that have had to repeat surgeries and are now living their lives again! I was so anxious to get this surgery behind me so I can start on the road to recovery, though now I am really getting nervous that I will never be able to live a normal life.

Before my 1st surgery, I was VERY active, working out 6-7 days a week, cardio, etc. and no weight issues. I want my life back!!

Thanks and best wishes to all my spiney friends!


  • I am so sorry to hear about your lack of fusion and seeing your info...your pain and spasms. I can't really offer any advice, but I can offer prayers and positive thoughts. I just had a PLIF 24 days ago and I worry about not fusing. I hope and pray that you get effective treatment and a speedy recovery. hang in there!

    Take care of yourself,

  • Thank you so much for your support and prayers. I am sure you will do great and are fusing! Most people do.

    I guess my post was too specific, makes me sad I didn't get much response and I really appreciate yours!

    Hey all-- just give me a wish and a prayer if nothing else! It will be around a 5-7 hour surgery and I am all alone.

  • Good Luck on your upcoming surgery. I had my hardware out in Sept after a 2 level PLIF in Dec 2008. Still waiting for pain relief. I have surgery the 26 also to remove a tumor in my eye socket, behind my eye, I will be thinking of you and wishing you the best and pain relief and success this time. Hang in there..Love, Robin
  • Sometimes we have to redefine "normal" a bit...but it sounds like you will be in good hands. I think there are many people who had a 360 after a non-union with a previous surgery who had good results. Many docs are now routinely doing 360s first because they do have such good results. I hope that will be the case with you...and that once you get over the initial hump of recovering from the surgical procedures, you will start to feel better.

    It is never fun to have to redo a surgery...but it sounds like this will be worth it in the end. Wishing you the very best....and let us know how things are going when you feel up to it.

  • Hi Kathy,

    I'm sorry to hear that you have to undergo more surgery. I hope this time it is right and you won't have to do it again.

    I have had 2 previous surgeries on my back, although they were not fusion surgeries. The second discectomy on the same disc did nothing for the pain. I am also now seeing an OS spine specialist and am having a 360 ALIF/PLIF fusion on the 27th - in 4 days! Yikes... I thought the day would never get here, and now this is the last weekend before surgery. I see your surgery is the day before mine.

    I am also nervous. I have total confidence in my surgeon now, and I know this is the right thing to do, but it is still scary. This is huge!

    I also used to work out all the time. I was in the gym working out several times a week. I can no longer do that. I too would like to get a somewhat normal life back. We know we will never be 100%, but I can't imagine living the rest of my life on the couch!

    I will be anxious to hear from you and how you are doing. I will be posting my progress as well as soon as possible. I, of course, will have my laptop at the hospital, but don't know what I will feel like there!

    Please let us know how you are doing.

    Good luck to you! >:D<

  • Thank you for your replies and comments!

    Gwennie, I appreciate your comments and realize there is a new definition of normal. I do feel like I have a very competent surgeon this time.

    Robin, my best to you on your eye surgery on the same day as mine. I hope your sine surgery contunes to heal.

    Deanna: Yikes is right! We will need to keep in touch on our progress! I probably won't bring a computer with me to the hospital. Last time I could hardly focus, so I think I'll just get as much rest as possible.

    Thanks again and I really appreciate the suppoort. I am feeling better now.

  • I too am sorry to hear you have to go through this again. I ended up having a 360 in two operations (although much closer together than yours!). I only expected surgery from the back, but going in from the front was also necessary. I have a fairly good result for a 3-level. Gwennie is right - normal is a whole new thing. I'm almost a year out and I'm lying here now on an ice pack and have started a course of steroids and Lyrica because I'm having another bad flare up. Just some major inflammation that seems to happen to me from time to time. Otherwise, life is a lot better than pre-surgery!

    Hang in there. I'm praying that all goes well and you end up with a lot of relief.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084

    Has the OS mentioned anything about a bone growth stimulator as an option for after the surgery? I know these are common in neck fusions and have heard of them for lumbar fusions as well.

    I did use one after my neck fusion. For the neck it just hung around my neck and ran on batteries. I had to wear it for 4 hours per day. I never felt anything but they told me it can interfere with cell phone signals.

    I've had a repeated lumbar fusion but far apart. L5-S1 with no hardware in 1987 at age 20. After recurring symptoms had L4-S1 with hardware in 1993. I'm now probably headed for a 360 fusion as my L3 has now moved forward and my old hardware needs to come out. Don't let that scare you as I have all kinds of orthopedic problems (ligaments and tendons in my body don't do too well and get lax which is part of the reason for my spine problems, knee problems, etc).

    For the 360 I am most nervous about having an incision in the front of my body and the back and how I'll function for the first few weeks/months. While my prior fusion was tough (painful surgery) I was younger and had to wear a brace for a few months but don't recall being as worried as I am now!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • No mention of a bone growth stimulator - I too am nervous about having both front and back incisions, but it makes sense to me given the situation. They used BMP the 1st time and while I did grow bone, the hardware was not stable enough to allow proper growth. I am hopeful this time the new OS will get it right.

    Good luck to you - keep in touch.

  • Thank you for your prayers and comments.

    I can't imagine having a fusion of so many levels -- it looks like you have been through a lot with your surgeries. Are you able to sit for any period of time?
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