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9 Months Post ACDF and pending lumbar surgeries

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First many thanks. This site has been very informative and also supportive. I am 9 months post ACDF and doing I think, pretty well. I think maybe the vertigo may stay but other than that, I can predict weather quite well now :) Anyway, I hope the next part will not be too long. I was diagnosed with degenerative joints while in my 30's, I am now 54. My job at that time was very physically demanding as well. I made the decision back then to live and play for as long as possible. I am now facing a couple of back surgeries. At first the NS viewed my MRIs from earlier in the year and he felt that I would require a fusion of L4&5 and told me L2 was bad as well. He ordered a new MRI as well as a Discogram and additional XRays. I went to see him yesterday and he told me that the Discogram showed L2 to be worse and he would start with a XLIF there and cautioned me of bowel problems. That scared me. He also told me that viewing the data from L4 and 5, that he was suprised that I was not experiencing much more pain and surgery may still be needed there as well. I have not read much imput on L2 and 3 fusion. Can anyone tell me about it. I can manage my pain on my off days but my job has become very difficult for me. I have also had the back injections and was told that my alternative was what I have now and progressively getting worse or surgery. I have tossed around whether to try for medical disability and wait. Any ideas?


  • I'm a little confused. Did the surgeon suggest that you might develop bowel problems from the L2 disc? If so, I do not quite understand that as usually that would be more common with the lower lumbar discs. I can see him mentioning it regarding the L4-5 segment, but I wasn't aware of it happening with the higher up nerves.

    In any case, that is something to be very aware of, but not to fear. It could result in an emergency surgery though. If you were to develop bladder or bowel issues, you would want to seek medical attention immediately to rule out the cause of cauda equina syndrome. If it were found to be caused by nerve compression, they would want to do surgery right away to relieve the compression. Otherwise the damage to the nerve can be permanent. You can read about it here:


    Please be sure to read through this information. Any of us with lumbar problems need to be aware of it, as some medical professionals do not make the connection and sometimes the patient has to bring it to their attention. It is a very serious situation, but also rare.

    Not too many people have problems at L2. I don't know if recovery would be any different from lower lumbar surgery, or not. People seem to do quite well with the TLIF procedure. Would he be using hardware and doing it minimally invasively?

    Only you can decide how much pain you are in and how it affects the quality of life issues. It is a big decision.

    Good luck.

  • Hello and thank you. I am also confused about the Dr's remarks about possible bowel problems. I thought that I had asked all the questions that I needed to and realized later that I failed to get more info about that. I did have an emergency surgery back in 2005 for a strangulated bowel caused by scar tissue. Maybe that could be the reason.Yes, he will be using hardware and that it would be minimally invasion. I sure hope this gives me some improvement and I can hold off on the L4 and 5 surgery for a while. I will check out the site that you suggested. Thanks, Susan
  • Hi Susan,

    I have had my L2-L4 fused with hardware (rods and screws) in 2003, and just last month L4-S1 (with a plate, screws and cages).

    The first was done through the back,(PLIF) and quite invasive with a long recovery.

    This last surgery was just done through the front and has, so far, been such a better recovery from the first. It's amazing what they can do with these minimally invasive surgeries. Just remember, it is still back surgery and should not be taken lightly.

    Good luck and keep researching and asking questions.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I had an ACDF in May 2006 and then a posterior cervical foraminotomy in May 2008. Now I'm headed for a XLIF/DLIF in February (L3-S1).

    For each neck surgery I took 6 weeks off via Short Term Disability (STD) provided by my employer. This past May my low back got bad, after 17 years without problems, and I went on STD and after that ended nowe on LTD. There was no way I could continue working.

    At first I could wait to get home and take medication but last Spring it got so bad I was looking for any reason to go home earlier as I has less tolerance for sitting and standing.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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