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Thoracic surgery on 2-17-10

angela_talley03aangela_talley03 Posts: 110
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well I am heading to surgery on the 17th.. I am having my T5-T6 fused for sure and I am going to talk with my dr when I go for my pre-op about T6-T7. I got my CT report and it sayd that my T6-T7 disc is also torn so I figure we might as well fix it while he is in there since we know that it isn't going to last very much longer.. I hate that I can't find much about the surgery any where.. When I had my lumbar fusion in April I was very prepared from all of the great info I got online and from here.. I knew what to expect and how things would work.. And plus there is nothing like hearing it from people who have already been through it.. I am very nervous and scared this time around.. My doc is worried about me going through this.. He knows that I need it and that he can do it, but he just hates to put me through it.. I have the best doc I swear.. I know a few important things about the surgery.. I know they are going to cut me on my left side from chest to back so I'm guessing about 6 inches or so.. They are going to remove one of my ribs completely and use it like they did with my hip bone in my lumbar fusion.. They will collapse my lung so I will have a chest tube for 24 to 72 hours so I won't be able to get out of bed until it is removed.. My doc said that moving shouldn't be as painful as it was after my lumbar fusion.. I had to have a blood transfusion after my lumbar fusion so I am worried that I will end up with another one.. And my hospital stay will be 3 to 5 days depending on my blood loss and so forth.. If anyone has had this surgery please feel free to tell me about it.. I hope everyone has a great pain free day..



  • Sounds like you have a good surgeon that you trust Angela. Thoracic surgery is quite rare, which is why you haven't found out much about it.

    There are people on here who have had it, so hopefully someone will tell you about their experience.

    I wish you all the best and will follow your progress (and pray for you, if you would like)

    Take care
  • Wow, sounds like your surgeon is quite compassionate. yes, unforutnately thoracic are the least common but it sounds like you have a specialist.

    I will be thinking of you. Let us know how the pre-admit appointment goes.
  • I could use all the pray possible.. Thank you..
  • I will be thinking of you and wishing you a quick recovery! Boy, two major back surgeries in a year! You are a very strong and positive young woman! I think you will do very well because of your positive attitude, how well you did with your lumbar surgery, and it sounds like you have a very caring, compassionate and skilled dr! Good luck! Thoughts and prayers will be with you as you go through this!

  • Hi Angela,

    I wish you the very best, during your upcoming surgery and recovery.

    This surgery will be a bit more involved and it sounds like your surgeon has prepared you for this.

    Because it is difficult to find much information on thoracic surgeries (surgeon's don't like to go into the thoracic area, unless it is absolutely necessary), be sure to write down any questions you may have and ask your surgeon.

    Renee Swanzy had thoracic surgery done not too long ago through her side. I can't remember what level it was, but if you go to the Thoracic forum... you could find her name and send her a PM.

    It's nice to hear that you have found a doctor that you trust. You might want to ask him about other thoracic fusions he has done and what the recovery time was for those patients.

    As Kathy said... you are a strong young lady and have a positive attitude. Keep thinking positive thoughts!

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I will also be very anxious to hear how your surgery and recovery goes.

    Best wishes to you,

  • Thank you guys very much.. I am very ready to just have the surgery over and to being healing.. I am very lucky in that my mom has come to stay with me and help me with my kids and house.. She got here in October and will be here until I am released after my surgery. My husband doesn't get home until about 6 and takes over with the kids and dinner on my super bad days.. I feel so bad that he has so much on his shoulders but he always says that it's his job as a husband and dad.. He diff deserves a vacation when I am better.. Ha ha.. He stays with me at the hospital so it is very nice to not have to call for help every 3 mins.. Ha ha ha.. When my thoracic spine started hurting he even surprised me with a 900 doller mattress to see if that would help any.. I am still nervous and worried but I know that he will be with me the whole way and is not afraid to speak up when someone doesn't to listen to me.. Lol.. I was living in Texas when I had my first surgery so I had it in Houston.. Well I have since moved to the New Orleans area, so my travel time to my doc is 6 hours.. But to me it is worth it.. Of course everyone tried to talk me into getting a new doc closer to where I live, but I just don't think that a spinal surgeon is something you "shop" around for.. I trust my doc and that is very rare in the medical world so to me all the pain and meds that I have to deal with to make the trip to Houston is worth it.. I will let you guys know what I learn at my pre-op appointment on the 10th.. Hope you all have a pain free day..
  • Angela---I just want to tell you good luck and we are here for you--I am not familiar with thoracic issues,so I cant add anything----but we are all spineys together,and we will go through this with you!Jeannie
  • Thank you Texascowgirl.. Everyone on here is so sweet.. I hope you are all having a great day..

  • What a blessing that your mum has been able to stay with you to help. Your husband sounds very supportive too. How many children do you have and how old are they?

    Recovery from your surgery will be tough (you know that better than I do because you have already had a fusion), but with all the support and care, you will get through it.

    I really hope that once you are recovered, you'll be able to take a vacation with your husband.
    Thinking of you as you prepare yourself and your home for this.
    Take care.
  • Well I got my second opinion that my spinal surgeon talked to me about. He said that he agreed with my spinal surgeon about the surgery as nothing else is helping and the disc is torn and everything is coming out of it. I was fine with that seeing as it wasn't even my idea to get the second opinion it was my dr's. I am just ready for it to be over and done with. I am so tired of all the pain I'm in. Well I hope everyone is having a good pain free day.
  • I had what was technically thoracic surgery but it was at t1/2 and the herniation was to one side so they were able to get to it from the bottom of my neck and avoid the internal organ issues. You will find very few who have had this surgery and even fewer on here since most often it is done as an emergency and the patient doesnt have time to research.

    In my case they had to cut and move alot of muscle behind my spine so my pain is the muscles rebuilding. The great part of thoracic is that the rib cage provides a natural support by being attached to the vertebra.

    Two thoughts came to me as I read your posts. First which way is your herniation? And second have they considered either removing only the herniated portion and not doing the fusion or doing a disk replacement?

    I think you should definately ask about the second level. They may not be able to do this at the same time because of the location of other organs which might add to the complications etc.

    I am so happy to hear that you love your surgeon. I had one like yours and it made all the difference in the world.

    If you have any other questions please PM me. I have been looking for info on thoracic problems for about 8 months now so I might be able to help.
  • My T5-T6 is herniated straight back.. They don't want to mess with the T6-T7 right now because it isn't torn all the way through like T5-T6 is.. It just has a tear inside itself.. And T5-T6's herniation is to big to take some out so they have to take out the whole thing and fuse it... I don't think my surgeon does disc replacements because I can't find it anywhere on his website and he has never talked about it... I just hate not being able to reserch it like I could my lumbar fusion.. I felt really prepared for my first fusion.. I hope you have a good day.. Thank you so much for sharing..
  • How about going from your back instead of the side? I know it's hard to ask docs too many questions but this might put a thought into his head. I would think that they can do the same thing from the back and maybe not have to deflate your lung.
  • I had asked him about that when he first told me about what the surgery entailed.. He said that he doesn't go in that way because of all of the nerves and there is a very important blood vessal that runs in front of your spinal cord only through your thoracic spine and he doesn't take that risk.. Plus there isn't enough space in that area becasue of your ribs and so forth... But I did try.. Ha ha ha ha..
  • Well I had my pre-op today.. My surgery is next Weds Feb. 17th.. I found out today that I am having a thoracotomy.. Which at first didn't sound so bad until I looked up what it is.. OMG.. If I hadn't had been in sooo much pain today from flying back and forth to Houston to see my Dr. I think I may have backed out.. It says that it is one of the hardest surgeries to recover from... Uhh I didn't think anything could be worse then my 360 fusion in April.. I am just ready for it to be over with.. I can't stand the pain I'm in now so I sure hope the post-op pain is the beginning of the end.. I was doing so well not being nervous before today but that is coming to an end.. I am so sick of everyone at the hospital be like what are you having done.. Wow that's so rare.. Yes I have been told that 34 times today I don't need to hear it again.. Do you really think your healping ease my nerves people... Sorry just needed a little vent.. I hope everyone is having a good day..
  • I hope you got at least most of your questions answered.
    Surgery is always so scarey, and yours is getting close, so my advice...for what its worth :)... take a few deep breaths,s pend the next few days finding ways to laugh, funny movies, playing as much as possible with the family.Try to find ways to relax. Keep us posted and PLEASE feel free to vent as needed.
    We are here for you through the good and bad days. :)
    God bless and keep You...at peace with your pending procedure,
  • Well my surgery is almost here. I am in Texas (I live in Louisiana) at family's and will be heading to Houston this afternoon. We got a room 2 miles from the hospital because depending on what time I have to be there traffic could be unbelievely bad... I am so nervous and that is hard for me to handle because I am normally the strong one who's not afraid of anything. I don't stress about anything ever but this is to much. It's making my body a wreck. I am just ready for the first week to be over. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around pain 2 times worse then my fusion (dr's words) in April. Well I better try to get some rest. Sorry for the vent. Hope u guys have a good day...

  • Glad to hear that you are safely in Texas.
    You are a very strong person, and you can do this. You are ready for it to be hard, but hopefully you will get good pain control.

    Hopefully this will fix you ready for the rest of your life. You have plenty of it to live and don't want to be in that pain all the time.

    I wish I could say more to make you feel more relaxed. All I can say is that I will be praying for you.

    We'll be waiting to hear from you when you can.
    You vent away when you need to. We are here for you.

  • Thank u so much.. I am just ready for it to be over and the unknown to be known. I forgot how long the day before surgery seems to last... I am very blessed to have lots of family here with me and my husband will be staying with me the entire time I am in the hospital. At least I will be here to help anyone else if they are facing the same surgery. U guys r a god send with all the support u offer. Well I guess I better try to relax for a while. Thanks again.
  • You are in my prayers.
    Your attitude and positive energy amazes me and will keep you safe and strong.

    Thoraci is least common surgery but I did talk to my surgeon about it and he pretty much confirmed the approach the way you explained it. He is a lumbar specialist but works on thoracic patients with another surgeon and we had some time to waste while we were waiting for some pre-op paperwork so we got to talking.

    It sounds like your surgeon is caring, compassionate, and cautious to ensure he's making the right decision.

    i will be sending healing vibes to you and positive strength energizing vibes to your husband, children, and mom.

    All will be good. You are in a good place. I can sense it by your comment about "being ready for the unknown to be known".

    God bless and try to relax and enjoy your family today.
  • Why I stopped doing research on my upcoming surgeries after number 2, or was it 3? I found that knowing ended up being far worse than just making sure whatever it was needed to be done!

    You'll do fine, make sure you have your support team with you! sounds like you do. Make sure they know when you are in pain to help you get better meds and such if needed. After my shoulder replacement I was in a lot of pain, but to out of it to fight for better pain control.

    I only looked up partial shoulder replacement surgery after it was over and I was home. Good thing to as finding out exactly what they had to do would have put me in the looney bin if I knew before hand.

    You sound like you are holding up very well all things considered, do whatever you can to keep your mind off of it.

    My thoughts go with you, two of my nieces live in Houston. Stop by and say hi! :)
  • Dear Angela,

    I will be saying many prayers for you. The day before any surgery is always tough. If you are able to sit and play a game of cards or backgammon, it will make the time go by more quickly.

    Here's a little pep talk for you... :)

    I had a lot of work done posteriorly to my entire thoracic area, including wire fixation and hardware fusion to T11, T12. It's been a long recovery, but had I not had a great surgeon working on my back and having him keep a close eye on my recovery... things would be a lot worse.

    You have a great surgeon, your family is going to be there to help you through the first month (you're going to need their help... the first month is the hardest) and I know you will have good pain control. As Wrambler mentioned, if you don't feel your pain is being kept to a tolerable level... all you need to do is speak up. Your doctor and/or PM doctor will make sure you are taken care of. It's hard for me to recall the first couple of months after surgery, as I slept a lot. You probably will do the same.

    Any kind of thoracic surgery is painful, but I've been told that the anterior approach is easier to recover from. You also have age on your side (I'm 43) and that is a big plus! You have been through one back surgery already, so you kind of know a little bit of what to expect.

    I will be in prayer tomorrow for you, Angela, and also through your recovery.

    Take it real slow, try not to reach when you get home and we all will look forward to hearing from you... when you are able to type.

    Wishing you the very best surgery,

    Tammy >:D<
  • Thank u all so much for ur kind words. I am at the hotel taking it easy and just got the call to be at the hospital at 6 am. My kids r all set up, the house is ready, and my husband, mom, stepmom, stepdad, mother-in-law, and cousin are all here with me. The only one missing is my dad but he works in africa every other month. But he will be keeping in touch with phone calls so I know he is here in spirit. Once again thank u on for ur prayers. Here goes nothing... :)
  • Hope everything goes well for you tomorrow
  • Best wishes and a prayer for you that everything goes well with your surgery and recovery. Your positive outlook helps to get you through this and your family being there to support you makes it easier to heal. I believe in positive thoughts and sending you those and a prayer too. One day you will overcome this just like your 360 surgery. You will get through this. May you wake up pain free and recover completely. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN

  • Thinking and praying for you Angela.
    Hope all goes well and that you have excellent pain control afterwards.
    Sounds like you have an amazing husband and family support network. That will be so helpful afterwards.

    Today is the day you start the climb to recovery and a better life.
    Hope it won't be long until you feel like you are coasting down the hill on the otherside.

  • Well I am at the hospital waiting for my pager to go off. I am not as nervous as I thought I would be but then again I have not made it to the back. I will be back on as so as I can. Good luck to all my feburary surgery buddies. Thank u jellyhall for everything. Well here goes nothing!!!!!!!
  • They are getting your sleepy medication ready to go!

    Hang tight... your surgery will be over real soon.

    Lots of prayers are being said for you.

    Tammy >:D<
  • In the back all hooked up just waiting to go to surgery. Shouldn't be long cause I just got my Valium. Thank u guys for all of the kind words and prayers. Meds are kicking in.
  • Thinking of you and sending healing vibes as fast and as much as I can.

    Hang in there -
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