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I need your thoughts PLEASE!!! PLIF/disc replacement?????

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am on the waiting list for a 2-level PLIF. However, I have been contacted today to ask if I would consider having my op with another consultant (who I haven't met and know nothing about). I've just got my head around the fact that I need invasive surgery after 5 years and after attending the spinal support group and numerous appointments, had 100 faith in the consultant and his team.

His secretary said today that I would meet the new man next week sometime to discuss it further and it may be "that he would recommend a different operation" - what's all that about? If one procedure was recommended in the first place, wouldn't the first surgeon I saw have suggested an alternative at that time if he thought there was one?

Obviously I cannot decide either way until I've met the new consultant, but I just wanted to ask you guys if this was common practice perhaps? What other procedure could be recommended, a disc replacement at 2 levels? I dunno!

I'm trying to get as much information as I can so I'm forewarned when I go, but I cannot find ANYTHING with this other consultants name on it in Google.

Do you think the consultants hand you over to someone else if their waiting list is too long and perhaps can't be done within the NHS 18 weeks recommended wait? Would this new surgeon suggest a different op if he wasn't confident doing PLIF's?

I just don't know what to make of it all. Because I work in two local schools, I have to take advantage of the six weeks Summer holiday to recuperate. The secretary said today that this new consultant could do it in June! Eeek! I was a little worried before, but now I'm petrified!!!

Would any of you know if the recovery time for fusions and disc replacement is the same? Obviously I don't know what 'other' op this new man could offer me, I'm only guessing it could be a disc replacement (perhaps he's better at this than a fusion, who knows).

If you've got ANY thoughts at all that might help to allay my fears, please share them with me OK?

Thanks alot
2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!


  • I have sent an SOS to someone who lives in England and recently had a fusion. She will be better able to help you than any of us in the US. Her screen name is jellyhall.

    I can really understand how this news has you feeling confused. Once we have dealt with a particular surgeon and feel comfortable with him/her, it would be difficult to make a switch. Do you have any choice in the matter or will you be passed over if you refuse to switch to the new doctor??

    Recovery is such an individual thing that it is difficult to make comparisons, but from what I have heard about ADR I think the recovery is quicker than from fusion...but I do not know with certainty.

    There are newer procedures that are a combination of the two surgeries...replacing one disc with an artificial disc and fusing the other segment. This is done to preserve motion in the spine. Other than this, I cannot think of other alternatives unless they reviewed your imaging and felt fusion was not necessary...that you could get by with discectomy or laminectomies....I don't know what issues you have, so can't say which.

    Try to relax. I'm sure you'll get some useful information from other members!!


  • I am not really sure, but I do believe that if it looks like you won't make your surgery within the NHS 18 week waiting period, you can be offered to have it done by another surgeon, possibly in another area. I was told that because my surgeon was the only one in quite a big area, he was very busy and didn't meet this time requirement and I might be offered an appointment with someone else out of the area.

    I have also heard of someone having their op in a private hospital, but on the NHS to try to keep within that deadline. I had an MRI scan done by a private company on behalf of the NHS to speed things up.

    Sometimes when there are problems with more than one level, a hybrid surgery can be offered where one level fusion is done along with either an ADR or a stabilising device such as a Wallis ligament or a Coflex device.

    ADR is becoming more common now in the UK, and there have been a few people on here who have had this surgery in the UK. My surgeon was against this, but he prefers more conventional methods.

    Like Gwennie, I also think that the recovery time for ADR is not a long as for a fusion. I think for a fusion, you would be talking about more than the 6 week summer break off work. I also work in a school, and had my surgery on 19th March and am still off work. Unless things are quicker than originally thought, I don't think I will be back to school this term.

    There is a lady who had a fusion/ADR hybrid surgery in the UK. She has a website where she did a blog describing her experience.


    If you google Coflex and Wallis ligament you should be able to find out some information about them.

    Wishing you luck with your surgery.

    Do keep in touch and let us know how you get on and what you decide to do.
    There are lots of very helpful and caring people on here who will support you through this.

  • i have sent you a PM hope its of some help
  • Just a quickie (as I'm just off shopping [yawn!]) I just wanted to thank you all so far for your support and suggestions. I wasn't aware of the new technology you speak of, or that disc replacement was quite new here in the UK.

    Straker - I've read your PM - thanks so much for all the info. I will reply when I know what's happening OK?

    I heard today that I am due to see this new surgeon next Wednesday 19 May, so I'll wait and see what he says/suggests. If I'm not happy with it all, I'll ask to revert back to the original surgeon's waiting list (but I'm also concerned because, if possible, it needs to be done before the end of July so I can recuperate over the school Summer holidays otherwise I won't be able to pay the mortgage!).

    I've taken all your comments on board and will let you know what happens.

    Thanks again
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
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