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Help: 2-day, 2-part surgery for Scoliosis

NaptownGirlNNaptownGirl Posts: 56
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Has anyone else had a similar surgery? I am extremely nervous as this is a MAJOR procedure. The medical jargon hasn't decoded itself yet, but basically I am having surgery through the front on day 1, and through the side on day 2.

My lower back has a 51 degree curvature. Five years ago it was only around 30 degrees, which is surprising because I am 35 yrs old. Anyway, back to the surgery: On day 1 they will remove any discs that need to be removed (also have Degenerative Disc Disease), straighten me out, and fuse me up. Day 2, the doc goes in from the side-ish and puts in the titanium rods.

My neurosurgeon says, "I'm not going to lie, it’s going to hurt...a lot!" And on day 1 he will be assisted by a cardiovascular surgeon because they need to work around my aorta. I'm really starting to freak out. Actually, just typing the details is making my hands sweat!!

Anyone else have a similar surgery? Several people I know have had back surgery, but not for scoliosis, so there is no one I can relate to.


  • I had posterior surgery (no anterior) for a 68 degree curve with anti-clockwise rotation. It took 8.5 hours and I had a great result. My surgeon was very experienced so I had great faith in him. I think that part is critical. A surgeon with tons of up to date experience. I asked my surgeon how many of these surgeries had he done on adults. He does 2-3 scoliosis surgeries per week, one of them is on an older person. He is an orthopedic surgeon specialising in scoliosis. His skills have ensured I've not had so much as a muscle spasm since. As difficult as it may be to find a highly experienced surgeon, I think it's the most important part of this journey.

    If you have any specific questions please ask. I'm happy to email you before/after pics and x-rays if you're interested.

    At that initial appt with your surgeon, you will naturally be bombarded with all the frightening risks e.g. paralysis, even death. It's very frightening. He is required to ensure you understands the risks. But my Dr. wrote down the chances of these things happening such as 1 in 10 chance of a rod breakage etc. I could see my chances were very good of making a full recovery.

    At 9 months out, so far so good.
  • Thank you Jen. I am glad you are feeling better!

    My surgeon says he does 3-4 surgeries like mine a month, in addition to the other conditions he treats. It's not 1-2 a week, though. He seems very knowledgable and up to date, and even showed me X-rays of a female patient after surgery that he recently operated on. My mother is a nurse and was in the appointment with my hubby and I; she asked a ton of good questions and he was very accomodating.

    Thanks for sharing! I like hearing good news.
  • I don't have scoliosis but I did end up having back to back back surgeries ;)

    How long do they say you will be in the hospital? I was there for 9 days, had a lot of post-op bleeding and my stats went way down - had to have a transfusion before the second surgery.

    It's a tough row to hoe, but hopefully you do well on the meds and your pain will be somewhat controlled. I say somewhat because unless you are knocked out cold under anesthesia you are going to hurt no matter what they give you.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • The doc said I would be in the hospital for about a week, and possible rehab after that, depending on how I do. It is possible they will just have me stay out cold the first night. He did say it was going to hurt like a Son of a Gun...almost which I didn't know! (Okay, not really.)
  • That would be nice - to not know anything for that day inbetween! A little bit scary, but kind of nice.
  • Hi NaptownGirl. Your surgeon sounds very experienced, so tick that one off your list!

    The pain can be bad, but they do their best to control it. Once pain meds have kicked in, the pain goes away so you do get relief. In other words, it's not days or weeks of non stop agony. But when it hurts, it feels like your whole body is hurting, not just your back.

    My surgeon uses 2 epidurals for the first 3 days so I had no pain initially. He sets them in place before closing the incision. It gives you a breather before they take them out and put you on oral meds. You might ask your surgeon about that, I would recommend epidurals. They sit you up the day after surgery and try to get you on your feet. I had low blood pressure and needed a blood transfusion so once upright, I was dizzy and couldn't stand but the transfusion fixed a lot of that and next day I was able to stand and take a couple of steps. The day following that I walked across the room and sat in a chair. Sitting was my least comfortable position so I didn't do a lot of sitting for several weeks. Standing and walking got easier every day. If they give you your meds first, let them kick in, then it doesn't hurt to walk. You feel weak and heavy but without pain and every time you walk you get stronger.

    I got very fit prior to surgery, exercising 4-5 hours every day. I walked, ran, kayaked. I think that probably helps too so is worth mentioning.
  • I started walking more and am going to try and join a local gym and start swimming. High impact activities, like running, have been discouraged so I figure swimming would be perfect. I've been doing alot of stretching in my upper back and neck and getting back into Yoga. The weather in Indiana sucks right now, so I'm walking indoors because I slipped and fell on ice last winter- that didn't feel so good!

    Thank you so much for all of the tips! I was just sitting here thinking of backing out.
  • Yes, just do whatever exercise you are able. Swimming is terrific. It all helps make you feel good and strengthens your heart.

    And forget backing out! 2010 is going to be your fix-it year!
  • I don't have scoliosis but I had a two part spinal fusion. I had the first part on a Monday. This was through my back and it included all the screws, rods, and plates. The surgery took 6 hours, I experienced a lot of blood lose so my 2nd surgery which was scheduled for Friday was delayed until the following Wednesday. Prior to this surgery I had a a mapping type of Xray which lasted 2 hours. They mapped out all my organs, veins, and arteries and anything else that they didn't want to hit during the 2nd surgery. My 2nd surgery was through my left lower stomach area. They harvested a piece of my hip and wedged that into my unstable spine. This surgery too 5 hours. Four days later I went to a rehab hospital for a couple of weeks.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
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