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To CT or not to CT

Lala329LLala329 Posts: 283
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am *almost* 3 months out from sacroiliac joint fusion surgery, which means I should finally have some bone growth. The problem is, unlike with lumbar fusion, a CT scan is necessary to check for bone growth. My surgeon has left it up to me whether or not I want to go forward with the CT scan.

The main benefit of the scan is that if there isn't bone growth I can get a bone growth stimulator and possibly avoid the need for revision surgery. It would also give me peace of mind to know there is bone growth.

The cons are: I am a female of childbearing age (early twenties) and I am already extremely worried about the amount of radiation I've had to my pelvis. I've had 3 CT scans just since January (one for a discogram, and 2 post-surg to check the hardware).

I feel like this is an impossible decision, and I'm not sure how to make the best choice. It'd be terrible to not have the CT scan and find out later on that something is wrong with the bone graft, but I will also feel bad if I have the scan and everything is fine...

Any thoughts/advice would be much appreciated :)


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    for that would be knowing the amount of radiation for those CatScans (which most doctors know) and what your OBGYN says.

    3 months post fusion surgery is not a very long time.
    Some people start to fuse after 4 to 6 weeks, while others may take 6 to 9 months.

    I dont know how anyone can identify that unless you have already been through surgery with fusion.

    So, not knowing how fast you may fuse, the next question would be do you have any immediate plans for starting a family?

    Lots of IF's here... That is why the best way to have the right information is to start with your doctors. I would discuss this with the surgeon who did your fusion as well as your OBGYN
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • My neurosurgeon has only taken regular x-rays to check for my fusion - he's been able to read the films and has seen very definite signs of a successful fusion. I have had to have an x-ray before each appointment though.

    I don't think you have to have a CT scan is what I'm saying.

    Of course, I've no idea if a CT is a larger dose than an x-ray or not.

  • I think you should be OK, I would do it. Just my opinion.
    I think knowing if you had some fusion or not would give you some relief and you might relax and heal better. Good luck with this decision, I can tell it is bothering you.
  • I haven't had to have a CT scan since my surgery - just Xrays before each appointment - one sideways and one straight on. I'm past child bearing age, but I do worry about the radiation and asked about it. They said it was extremely low dose and shouldn't cause me any trouble.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for the replies and advice, and I do hope they will keep coming. You have given me some great questions to ask my surgeon and Ob/gyn, and some good things to think about as I make this decision.

    To clear up some questions:

    1) The CT scan is the only imaging study that will clearly show the bone graft. X-rays won't do it because it is my SI joint and there is a lot of bony obstruction when X-raying the pelvis so it is unreliable to detect fusion versus non-fusion.

    2) The CT scan is a significantly higher dose of radiation than a standard X-ray (it averages 6 mSv, versus 0.7 mSv for a plain X-ray)
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