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12 Months after L3,L4,L5 S1 FUSION AND STILL NOT FUSED

ron prron p Posts: 39
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well 12 months after L3 L4 L5 &S1 fusion and Ct showes not fused and waiting on the Drs next move. I do not smoke watch everythig I do . I also have lots of tingling in both legs and feet like they are asleep all the time . anyone else going through this help


  • I can not help with the "WHY" you have not fused. I will be interested to hear what your doctor says.

  • Hello Ron,

    I am just hitting 9 months from my C6/7 and the top of that "fusion" still isn't happening. I know how frustrated I am with mine - and it's one level. I can feel your frustration even from your short post! It is good to see that your doctors are on top of this. Please let us know what "plan B" is going to be. We are here if you need us!! *HUG* Sorry to see this is happening. Did your doctor say the fusion problems might be due to so many levels being done?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I have been using a Bone Growth Stimluator since about a week post-surgery and thus far I appear to be on schedule (nearly 4 months post). This week the thing broke and we are out of town so I'll call the rep and get a new BGS and am supposed to wear in a few more months. See if that's an option for you, not sure if they can be used this far past your surgery date but it's a great non-invasive option.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • well now they are trying the bone stimluator been on it for 30 days now and will for another 5 months after that the dr wants to do another mri but the other day I felt like the day i was hurt a lot of pain and looked like a s curv again called the dr but he was on vacation well I just laid down for a few days and it helped. Then went to the dr after he returned and he told me to do nothing I mean nothing will see what he says next month. This is a mess im very up set.

  • Ron,

    I would be very upset also and that is putting it mildly.

    Have you used Motrin, Advil or ibprofen during your recovery?

    I think I would be seeking another opinion this far out. Do your have broken hardware at this point?


  • I guess that he wants to check the state of your hardware. That it is still tight, in the right place and intact.

    There are several things that can effect fusion. Smoking, NSAIDs, diabetis, multi-level fusions and just bad luck, being just some of them.
    Good that you are now using a bone growth stimulator. Let's hope that will work. Do you wear a brace?

    I can completely understand that you are feeling very upset. I would be too. Don't give up hope and do keep talking to us here. There are others who have experienced this problem. We are here to support you through this. :-)
  • My 6 month xray did not show fusion, and I've been wearing a bone stimulator for one month also. I also eat calcuim enriched foods and take several added supplements.

    Ron, are you taking supplements for bone growth? I'm walking 3 miles everyday as well. I see my surgeon in 7 more weeks, but he doesn't plan on doing any imaging at that time. I'm pretty distressed about the non-fusion, and the fact that I probably will not have any answers until my 12 month appt in late November. I would scream if it would help, but it would take too much energy.

    I would like to know from anyone/everyone about imaging...what is the best imaging to see fusion? I have only had an xray, but it seems that CT scan might be better. It is going to be a delicate discussion with my surgeon next month about imaging, as he was not interested in having much conversation about my non fusion. If I make a suggestion, I'm afraid he will turn me down flat!

  • There seems to be such a difference of opinion amongst surgeons regarding fusion and imagining.

    All I know is of my own experience, so...

    at my 6 week post op, I had xrays and asked about fusing, my surgeon said it was too soon, but did show me my xray and I saw my hardware.

    at 14 weeks, I had xrays and aked the PA about suppliments, bone stimulators, vitamins, etc. He asked why I was asking. I told him of this site and the non-fusing of some and my fear of not fusing. He asked if I smoked~I don't. He said "you'll fuse! Don't worry!"

    When the surgeon came in I asked him the same questions. He took me to view my xrays and showed me the bone growth. It looked cloudy, vs, before where it looked black.

    I had an MRI that same day as I had herniated...:( and on the MRI I could see the fusing and the swelling. If fact I was shocked at how much swelling there was...I can see it on the outside, but on the MRI WOW!!

    So that is all I know based on my experiences. I hope in some small way it is helpful! :)
  • Sounds like you are might fuse with a problem, especially if you are seeing cloudy appearance at 14 weeks. I'm so glad for you...you certainly don't need any more complications.

    Maybe I'm paranoid, but I feel that all my doctor is concerned with is my work status. Of course, he will not say if it is safe or unsafe for me to return to my job with a nonfused spine. He is leaving it up to me...when I feel ready. How do I know when that will be without knowing if I'm fused, and I don't think he is getting an xray until November, when I'm one year out. A strong spine is essential for my job.

    Anyway, I wish that I felt like someone had my back...literally and figuratively.

  • Hey friend! WE have your back!!

    I really wish I understood the difference in surgeons!

    Jellyhall's isn't even going to see her until March!

    Do you know if they used BMP? If they did, that is in your favor!

    Your hardware should hold you in place, but I also understand not wanting to take a chance.

    I went into my 3 month follow up with a ton of questions about fusion, due in partto your circumstance.

    I was told that my hardware was so strong, that barring a severe car wreck, or falling from something, my hardware will hold me! I don't know how much of a difference a 360 makes?

    It just seems there are so many differences amongst surgeons!

    If there is anyway I can help I am here to do so! WE HAVE your back!! :) Hang tight!
  • What I'm concerned about as far as my work goes, is that things happen that are unforeseen. For instance, I can be waking up a patient, and sometimes they wake up wild and thrashing about. The OR tables are narrow, and I have had to physically keep the patient from falling, or trying to get up. Last year I had a 30 yo strong healthy male wake up, and turn completely over on all fours. It killed me trying to keep him from falling off the bed. Those situations petrify me now, especially since I haven't fused yet.

    I'm still in a fair amount of pain, too...so, going back to work just doesn't seem like the safe thing to do. Being 7 months out, and not working, is driving me crazy, but my PT told me from the beginning that I should not even think about working for 9-12 months.

    Thanks for having my "back", and "back" at ya!!
  • Oh Lisa, WOW that is crazy! Yup, I would be hesitant too! Take the time you need for sure! :)
  • Evening all. Took a sabatical from these boards for a year while I quit sitting on my behind and got back to life and exercising after a 10-4-08 L4-L5 bilateral laminectomy.

    My fusion was behind the curve ball too and at 6 or 9 months - can't remember which - my surgeon put me on Forteo, a daily injectable synthetic parathyroid hormone. The fusion happened in short order. The instructions for that drug are to inject for two years then go on Actonel. At a recent whole body bone scan, I'd laid down new bone all over. It looked purty!!! And now at 58, I have the bones of a 25 yr old.

    Looks like I'll be having cervical fusion soon so I hope it begins to grow quickly there. The fusion growth seems to help the strength of the area and lessens the pain. I think we're all for that!!

  • I have read some of the previous posts regarding fusions not taking. I am at a loss as to what I should do and this is a little late to find this site but here goes... My doctor took xrays at 3 days after surgery, 6 weeks after surgery, 6mos, and 9 mos and tomorrow will be close to the 12mos mark. I saw the doctor last at 9 mos and he told me I could go to my regular pain management doctor and he told me to put the pain in the back of my head (basically he does not care anymore) all of these visits he kept telling me I was healing nicely. They even told me I could ride my horse at 6mos. I have now found out when I went back to my pain doc that I had a fractured right screw and loose left screw and i am not fussed all the way. Cat scan shows Fused in the front and not the back. I have had pain all along this healing process. I have done my PT religiously but I don't knwo what to say or do with my doctor appt tomorrow except yell and cry and ask him why he failed to mention all of these problems but instead told me to get over the pain!
  • Well 23 months now still not fused the Dr wants to change the hardware and do fusion again just waiting on aproval been through bone stimulator, s1 injections, pain management the whole 9 yards you name it I have been there im tired and hope this one works good luck to all you hope all goes good wish me luck
  • Ron P,
    I do wish you luck and all the best. Revision is no picnic but sometimes necessary. Does your surgeon have a game plan this time he thinks will ensure fusion? I was told without the revision my hardware would eventually fail completely and the pain would only increase.

    It may sound crazy but I am thrilled that your surgeon is acknowledging the non-fusion and doing what it takes to address the issue. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, that is not always the case with all surgeons. Please keep us informed of your progress and what is happening.

    In my case, I was allowed to suffer for 3 years. I too had a case of non fusion, loose screws, and my surgeon swore everything looked beautiful. He suggested maybe I should seek some counseling and the pain would just disappear...


    It sounds like that may be what is happening to you. Makes you want to scream doesn't it? What does your PM recommend. For some reason some surgeons just can't accept that their work is less than perfect and they will have answers to back up all their words. Trust me! Been there done that.

    I was far more upset that I was allowed to go undiagnosed and suffer than I was that I didn't fuse and my hardware failed. That happens.

    After over 2 years of all manner of conservative treatments, surgical opinions, pain psychology, and obvious pain mgt, I finally found a surgeon to admit I was not fused and my hardware was failing. I am now 4 weeks out from a 2 level revision.

    My advice, if he won't address this with you find a surgeon known for salvaging spines who is not affiliated in anyway with your current surgeon. Look at their training history, education history and everything. Trust me it makes a difference. I learned the hard way, they tend to stick together and do talk amongst each other.

    Positive thoughts and energy go out to both of you. I get it. I know how it feels.
  • Thanks frog my dr. is worried that if I wait any longer my hardware will fail he wants to get in there and redo the fusion but its w.c. stalling they have to be the worst people I ever met.
  • I feel sorry for your situation, and wish you the best of luck.

    I can somewhat relate to yours, as i also am on work comp. and had a 2 level fusion 3/19/10, and found out the l4ls, is fully fused, but the l5s1, is not showing any signs of fusion, so i see my NS again in july and get another CTscan, if there still is no fusion NS told me i will need a alif, and he will also put a plate in there.
    So i'm sure w.c. wont be happy with me either.

    Anyway i hope the best for ya.
  • Update well after all the treatments they have fianly aproved my 2nd surgery to be on the 9th of May 2011 after the first failed fusion its been 2 years today that I had my first surgery hope all goes good wish me luck Ron p
  • All the luck in the world for a successful revision and a speedy recovery. I would imagine you are filled with so many mixed emotions, focus on the positive ones and get FUSED!

    Ron, can I ask during all this time, had there been any concern with motion in the non fused level? I ask as this is what is happening to me, I am only 8 months post op but my new surgeon feels it reasonable to proceed sooner then later. I had ALIF L4-5. Now, due to micro motion & fibrous non union he wants to do posterior fusion. In the mean time back in brace & no BLT, I have NOT been giving a BGS???

    Please keep us posted on your progress.

  • Good to hear that things are moving ahead for ya.

    Good luck and i hope the best.
  • Heather, I'm in the same boat as you minus the w.c. since nothing happened other than my back just started hurting. I'm 46 now, nonsmoker, no diabetes, 115 lbs after laying around for the past year, and just learned at the 1 yr mark that my ALIF at L4-5 didn't fuse. From all I've read, X-rays are the tests that have been used at 3, 6, 12 months after surgery, but it sounds like CT will be the gold standard in the near future as it shows the bone much better. My neurosurgeon said "everything looks fine" while my second opinion orthopedic surgeon said nonfusion and let's get in there from the back this time, place more screws, and remove severely-arthritic facet joints while he's in there. Just learned of the nonfusion 1 week ago and the differing opinion from my operating neurosurgeon 2 days ago.

    Rather than taking up any more of y'all's time, if anyone has time to update with their status and treatment or surgery they've undergone, especially Heather since our situations seem so similar (I was given the okay to cut grass on a riding mower 5 - 6 months post-ALIF as everything seemed to be progressing well except for my pain which returned in less than 1 month. Didn't think I'd ever get the go-ahead to ride a horse again, and although I'm skeptical after 2 yrs of pain 24/7, it's a nice thought.)

    Thanks in advance. I'm a newbie and apologize if anything in my posting wasn't done quite right. I only get the urge to post when I can't sleep at 2 in the morning.

    Best wishes for some pain-free days go out to you all!!
  • Hi LA!

    I had four levels done.....the front and back surgery Oct 2010. and then March 2011 I had the loose hardware in my back removed. I STILL had pain, Dr treated me like the plague. He in no way would tell me any thing was wrong. He suggested more therapy.

    I went for second opinion July 2011..long story short..I hadn't fused in the front either. Not only was it bad in the back but now screws were all backing out in the front!

    My new Dr was befuddled, he said he would have to do some extensive research, speak also to other Drs for their opinions, to see if he would be able to help me at all.

    He told me my former Dr did not have a radiologist read my mri or ct scans or x-rays (which he said you never read your own test) second of all he never should have done 4 levels on my back because they mostly never work, it is usually only done if there is a tumor or some other growth that need to be removed. Which was not my case.

    My former Dr would not release my records without many many many phone calls that is why it took me so long to get into see another Dr. I am still fighting with them to send my records to disability!!!

    Finally my new Dr went into my back and did a revision of all 4 levels. He told me it would only help my pain maybe 25%, he said my back was seriously messed up. He said also that all the other surgeons he talked to would look at my x-rays and mri's and such and just say WOW!

    I have to say as of today, I am 25% better! Halleujah !

    Good Luck to you all, I only hope ya'll find a Dr as good as the Dr that I recently found.

    He had me on the operating table for 11 hours, so I know he took his time and did it right! (unlike the old Dr)
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