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About how far along (post-surgery) does this fusion x-ray look?

BrihtwulfBBrihtwulf Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had this x-ray taken today, and I'm curious to see what opinions there were on how long it looks like it's been since this fusion. Anyone have a guess based on the x-ray image? I know, we're just patients and NOT doctors or ortho/neuro surgeons. But it doesn't take THAT much anatomy knowledge to examine an x-ray, so have at it! :)

See if you can tell, and I'll let you know how long if anyone gets close...



  • Lateral and Ant/Pot x-rays as it's hard to tell exactly from one x-ray. I wouldn't even guess. Hope you fuse well and heal completely.
    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
  • Yeah, I felt like the ant/pos image was rather difficult to see the area clearly, even magnified. I think the issue with having the fusion at L5/S1 is that on that x-ray image you're getting interference from the pelvic bone.


    Here's a look at the extension image:


    Anyway, since no one wants to hazard a guess, I'll just tell you. I'm about 10.5 months post surgery. It's almost been a year and the images from my x-ray just seemed concerning. I have an appointment with my surgeon today to get his take on them, but I'm not sure what he'll have to say.
  • Oh, and what's with my hardware being slanted like that in all my x-rays? It's that way whether I'm lying down or standing. And it's looked like that on 2 sets of x-rays, and a CT... Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it's hard to help that when you're talking about your spine. I'm sure you all understand where I'm coming from.
  • I'm not as far along as you...only 6months 1week out, but that is how my xray looks as well.

    What did your surgeon say about this xray? Does he have a treatment plan for you to help with your fusion? Are you going to PT? What kind of restrictions does he want you to adhere to?
    Are you having a great deal of pain/burning/numbness?

    I have posted my lack of progress, and got some good confirmation about how I am going to proceed.

    Wishing you the best!!

  • Well, I just got back from my appointment with the neurosurgeon and it looks like my fears were correct. He said that my x-rays don't show fusion taking place, and that there didn't seem to be much if any growth at all actually. He didn't really have a specific explanation for me, except that it may likely be genetically linked.

    As for what to do next, that's where he started stumbling over himself a bit as he tried to "encourage" me. He said that I may just need to keep up with physical therapy and take things "one step at a time" and not give up. He sounded like my high school track coach saying "try to work through the pain" and "keep at it"... There are no medications to help, and another surgery would produce the same results.

    He said the likely consequence is that in a few years the hardware may begin to fail. Soooo... Yeah, I don't know exactly what to take away from that but I guess I'll keep up with the PT and let my primary physician try to take care of my pain as much as possible.

    As for the pain I experience, it increases with ANY activity, and though it starts in my lower back, it spreads to my buttocks and down my legs (the left leg mostly). The surgeon said to try to avoid "favoring" the painful leg when walking, but sometimes that's easier said than done. I just have to take this one day at a time, because if I think about the big picture it's pretty depressing...

  • My physical therapist just called me, since I'm not fusing either. She had wanted me to do some aggressive manevuers, since she assumed that I was fused. She doesn't want me to do anything like housecleaning. No push/pull for sure. We are going to resume PT very carefully...sounds good to me.

    She suggested that I ask my surgeon for a bone growth stimulator. She said that she has seen it work well on some patients. Just going to pass that info on to you.

    Did your surgeon have any supplements, diets, etc. that might help the fusion process?

  • Brihtwulf said:

    Anyway, since no one wants to hazard a guess, I'll just tell you. I'm about 10.5 months post surgery. It's almost been a year and the images from my x-ray just seemed concerning. I have an appointment with my surgeon today to get his take on them, but I'm not sure what he'll have to say.

    Now that I see you got the not so good news reference your fusion status, I can say this. Most of us can probably see (on the front view) that the lines indicating the graph were pretty sharp - thus indicating not fusing, but we are not doctors, *and* more important to the point, even if we are a zillion percent correct, no one knows how the recipient of such information would react. Does that make sense?

    The forum rules on here that we can give insight from our own experiences, or thoughts and advice, but not "diagnosis" to include interpreting an MRI, X-Ray etc., because we all know, fully trained doctors make mistakes, no need to compound it with us trying to diagnose each other! :)

    I've posted my X-Rays on here and too EMG reports, no so much for input as to "what is going on, what can I do, what's wrong?" is to allow those who read to have more insight as to what is going on with me when I post on said issue. If it helps, at my 6 month mark, my X-Ray showed a clear crack below the bottom screw from my first fusion. I had a lot of PM's from fellow members who saw it, but again, rules and our own safety, they did not comment so in the thread. I hope you understand no one was ignoring you or anything. Take care.

    Fellow fusion (lack there of) type!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow Lisa its funny how your PT peron really turned around as soon as she heard the facts!!
  • Yes, my PT did a 180..I was pleasantly surprised, and she was so empathetic over my situation. It meant a great deal to me to have an advocate.

  • Now she knows the real condition of your spine, she can work out a regime for you that will be appropriate and help you.

    Good news that a bone growth stimulator might be helpful too.

    Things are starting to look more hopeful, Lisa.
    Hope that you are feeling encouraged! :-)

    We are here to support you along your journey.
    (You too Brihtwulf :D)
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