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getting fused S1-L5 in the front & S1-L3 in the back

LuznickyLLuznicky Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I tore some disc when I was only 25 back in 2004 and after all the tests i was told by the docs if I could tolerate the pain and live with the pain med to keep doing it and not have a fusion....I was dead set on not having one at the time. Time and pain wore me down and I finally gave in January of 07. My spine surgeon fused L5-L3 through the front and it failed.... most likely cause according to my wife and spine surgeon was that I smoked cigarettes at the time. They told me again that a revision was possible but he wouldn't do it till I was nicotine free. I struggled with quitting for a good year till my world started to fall apart and the pain that I was hiding from my family couldn't be covered up anymore... even my wife didn't know how much med's I had to take to keep it together to go to work and support out family. Sometime over this last summer things kept getting worse... if it wasn't spasms, it was numbness, or severe pain and so on. I felt like a total failure and saw my marriage headed for the toilet when I went back to surgeon. He did some new CT's and when I came back for an appt he did and exam with me on the table and when he pushed in the facet of S1-L5 I was ready to jump off the table. After a discography was done on that disc we knew that it needed to be included in the revision as well. Nicotine still stood in the way and he refused to fuse till I did my part and quit smoking. 2weeks later I kicked it for good and will have my surgery on Dec 7th... that dirty little camel was making me a weasel.
He plans to go in the front and fuse S1-L5, then flip me over and do S1-L3 on the back side.... he said it's a belt and suspenders approach. When he does the back he will put in a bone growth stimulator as well this time and use cadaver bone with my bone marrow. needless to say I am a little scared.
Has anybody had this exact fusion and how did they get through the healing process... I have this awful picture of myself in bed for weeks only being able to lay on my side.


  • I'm sorry for all your problems, but am very happy you've been able to quit smoking. That really should make a big difference in your healing.

    You should be able to lie on your back...in addition to your side, but you will be recovering for quite a long time. They'll have you up and walking within 24 hours and it will be necessary and, very important, to walk every day after that, whether you feel like it, or not. Distance is less important than frequency. At first you may just want to plan a little walk around the house every time you get up to use the bathroom. You may need a walker at the beginning, but this part of recovery usually doesn't last too long.

    We are all a little (or a lot) scared before a fusion...but, so far, we've all made it and lived to post again! It sounds like your surgeon has things well thought out and is planning the best surgery for your particular situation. Things won't be all that different from your first fusion. Some people have more trouble with the stomach incision that others, but other than that, you pretty much know what to expect.

    So, you have a week to ready yourself. Try not to get stressed thinking about it. Sounds like you have faith in your surgeon. Do things this week that calm you. It is important to go into surgery with a positive attitude and a calm being. Please come back and let us know how you're doing, when you feel up to it.

    Wishing you a successful outcome--
  • I am fused, L3-S1. I had the surgery through the back first (hardware) then they went in through the front four days later. I guess it was all supposed to be done through the back, but they couldn't get through my scar tissue. Since you have both approaches planned at the start of your surgery, I would imagine things will go more smoothly for you. The fusion is tough, and the recovery is not easy, but you are a lot younger than I am, so hopefully, you will do well. At any rate, it should decrease your pain levels substantially. I've had several bad flares since surgery last year, but all in all, I'd say I'm a lot better off than I was.

    All the best,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I may be facing something similar soon. I need my L4-S1 revised to include L3 so they'll go in from the front and the back! I find out more Tuesday. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. Best of luck to you!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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