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Lumbar laminectomy with spinal fusion?

ajamiesonaajamieson Posts: 65
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

Met with surgeon today. He said I need a lumbar laminectomy with a spinal fusion and talked about getting bone from a bone bank. Has anyone had this? How was it? How was the recovery? Is it considered major spinal surgery? Thanks!


  • not sure of all the terminologies.
    However, the word fusion generally implies invasive surgery b/c to fuse, regardless of 'entry size of incision', means adding hardware (srews, rods, pins, etc) which means invasive.

    I think doctors differ on what material to use for fusion. Some use graft from hip bone (or pelvic . . .can't remember), some from donor (cadaever), and some from sythetic materal (or some mix of them).

    Maybe if you give more specifics, we can offer help.

    I'm facing decision on revision discectomy vs. spinal TLIF (posterior) fusion at L5-S1. Doctors I spoke to thus far said if I went with the fusion, they'd replace the disck with a synthetic bone like spacer, I'd have screws/rods, and that the bone would not start fusing until week 6 and I am talking minimum of 4-6 weeks out of work but likely even longer.

    Not sure if this helps. Good luck
    I'd recommend getting a 2nd opinion.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Yes, it's major spinal surgery and you should be able to find some references to it on this board (I've not been around this board too long but I do know that laminectomy and fusion is very very common)

    The lamina is part of the vertebrae and is commonly removed, in part, to alleviate spinal stenosis. The other part of the surgery is a fusion which is also common - what you'll want to find out is what levels the doctor is proposing fusing. It can be one level (i.e.L5-S1) or multi-level (L4-S1). You should do a bit of research on spinal anatomy and then you'll have a better idea of exactly what part of the spine they'll be working on.

    The reason it's important to know levels is that recovery is easier with less levels (in most cases). Those with one level often don't go home with any kind of back brace. But those with more levels often do.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • major surgery. You shouldn't have too much trouble with flexibility with one level (I'm pretty stiff with three), but it is invasive, it's painful, and it takes a long time to recover. It can, however, really help a lot of spinal problems. Make sure you get a couple of opinions before proceeding with the surgery. Make sure it's what needs to be done. I had cadaver bone and bone morphogenetic protein mixed with my own bone marrow for my fusion. My pelvis ached for two weeks from the extraction of the bone marrow. At times, I think it hurt worse than my back!


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I am facing basically the same thing in a week. I talked to my NS about the differences in the bone products for the fusion and was told by him that the artificial (or plastic) fusion products don't hold up well in the long run and that a bone donor (or cadaver bone) was more durable...I opted not to do the bone graft from my own body, as I felt that the surgery was enough trauma to my body. ;)) This is something you would want to discuss with your surgeon and weigh out the pros and cons of each. Just remember you are not alone. Keep reading the forums, I know they have helped me immensely and given me a boat-load of info that I would otherwise never known. I don't feel like I am going into surgery unprepared. :D
  • I've wondered if they are removing some of the lamina, couldn't they use that as the bone graft? If would save taking it from the pelvis/hip.

    Has anyone had this?
    Perhaps is depends on how much bone they have to remove.
  • Think of it as fusion being the primary surgery with laminectomy just a part of the process. There are many articles about fusion on this site and others.


    Actually "hardware" does not need to be added for a fusion to occur. In the past, rods and screws, etc. were never done...and if a disc is totally shot, the vertebrae will fuse together naturally without any surgical intervention.

    However, in this day and age, most spinal surgeons get more involved in helping the process along. This is done with the addition of "hardware" such as a cage that fits between the vertebrae and into which some sort of bone material (yours, others or a bone product)is added. This material starts the bone growth and eventually it grows into the vertebra on either side and makes a tight fused segment. Then often, rods and pedicle screws will hold the vertebrae in position, and will keep it from sliding or moving.

    Statistically, rates of success for the procedure go down as the number of levels go up.

    You might want to find out:

    how many levels is your surgeon suggesting you need fused?

    what type of surgery is he suggesting -- ie., will he go in from the front, the back or the side?

    Fusion is the most complex spinal surgery. It is usually performed when there are no other options. For most people, the recovery is long.

    There are many threads on the board pertaining to fusion if you want to read more of the gory details!

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Often the removed bone is used, in part, to provide grafting. Some of the other options (BMP) have been shown to help fusion. So it is possible the lamina will be ground up to be used in surgery but it's not enough for the entire fusion process.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I know my doc used some of my bone (from the laminectomy combined with BMP. He mashed it all up in a concoction and put it all in some plastic ' bullets. This little flexible bullets are supposed to preserve some of my flexibility. I fused great.

    I ahd 2 levels and was sent out with only a velcro brace that fit around my middle. It did take 5 1/2 months before I was able to go back to work though.

    Best of luck!
  • I too just had L4/5 decompression laminectomy and pedicle screw, rod fusion. My surgeon used my bone from the spinous process, so no additional incisions required, my own blood and a product called actifuse, which he loves and after my own research seemed to be a very good option. I have a wonderful Dr. and he seems to be very cutting edge (no pun intended). He just seems to stay with the newest technology that holds promise and good results. I do wish you and your surgical team prayers and best of luck for a speedy recovery.
  • I just had a posterior discectemy and a insturmented fusion between my l4-5 and didn't have any bone taken from myself or donner bone. Just 4 screws and 2 rods.
  • hi ajamison,
    I am 10 days out froma L5-S1 fusion and laminectomy
    using cage for L5 disc. This site is so helpful
    in many ways, however, there is also info that one
    doesn't want to hear!

    I consider my surgery a sucess. I had a year of moderate to incapacitating pain. I could not walk to restroom morning of surgery without yelling out and tears running down my face. After I awoke from
    surgery, I have not had any of this pain. I did not have pain when I awoke. I past minor surgeries I've awoken with pain. Not this time!! Was able to
    walk day of surgery, stayed in hospital only overnight. I had Minimally invasive surgery rather than open surgery. My incisions are about 2 inches
    on each side of my back.

    Just wanted to add a positive experience.
  • My doctor used the bone from my laminectomy and the removal of my spinnie processes for my bone grafting.

  • Great news! So glad to hear that your surgery went so well and that you have got rid of your pain.
    Keep healing. Remember not to over do it though.
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