Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

"plugs" haven't healed after 5 years!

picklebritchesppicklebritches Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Had fusion without metal plate at C4/5 in 2005. Recently began having pain/numbness etc in my left arm and today the NS told me the "plugs haven't healed"

Can somebody tell me what this means?

I realize I should have asked him more, but he went on to explain what we will need to do to clean it up and was discouraging more surgery, so I let it pass.

Thanks in advance ~ Picklebritches


  • What they are referring to as a plug, is a bone graft. It is taken from a bone bank and is from a human donor. It is generally referred to as an Allograft. These plugs are placed in order to provide a building block for your own bones to fuse together.

    A wild guess at what your doc might be inferring, is possibly your fusion has failed.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

  • This is what I'm afraid of. It was actually a two level fusion, and if memory serves me correctly, it was 4/5 and 5/6. The NS who did my fusion quit soon thereafter and the NS I've been seeing is his partner.

    He already made clear to me that he won't operate on me because I have lupus. (great.) And on my last visit to follow up from MRI, his first words were "your fusion looks fine". I hadn't even ASKED about it, but apparently it was on HIS mind.

    I'm feeling quite uncertain with this guy, knowing as I do that he doesn't want to treat me due to the underlying lupus going on. Today when I saw him as follow up to EMG, he started saying all was fine. However, the doc who did the EMG told me I had "irritated nerves" in the neck so when I pushed about this, he reluctantly agreed, and when I insisted about my symptoms, he had no choice but to agree that these were caused by my neck.

    He said the plugs hadn't healed and if we do a myelogram, then the next step is surgery to "clean up the mess" and all that that entails, and "you don't want to do that, do you". When I asked if neurontin would help, he said yes, and prescribed it. We agreed to try and wait 6 weeks before doing anything further.

    You know, as I type this, I am already thinking I need another doctor!

    Thank you so much for the support ~ I truly appreciate it!


  • Thank goodness you said that yourself. If you have to push him on test results, prescribe your own meds and he tells you that you don't want the surgery that could fix the mess his partner made -- well I would have run out of that office.

  • Picklebritches,

    I fully agree with "C" and Kris. Find a new doctor as soon as you can, and too it sounds like your fusion has been deemed to have failed. :( I only know a tiny bit about Lupis, so not sure why that would affect them doing surgery on you if needed. Please let us know how it goes. Take care. Support *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thank you so much Kris and Brenda! My first inclination is to ask what a "failed" fusion means. I haven't had a chance to read all the information available here on spine-health, and I will. Meanwhile, that sounds pretty frightful ... "failed fusion." What in the world does that mean???

    Trying to stay calm,
  • Here's an article that goes over the issues related to fusion and failed fusion.


  • I am so sorry for all the pain and problems that you are experiencing.

    I also think it is time to see another doctor.
    Hope that you find one who is good at communicating with you! They are a very rare species!
    Don't give up hope. Someone will have an idea of how to help you. :-)

    We are here to support you through this :D
  • Kris-NY said:

    If you have to push him on test results, prescribe your own meds and he tells you that you don't want the surgery that could fix the mess his partner made --
    Where do you get off saying that this surgeons partner left a mess. You have special insight that this person screwed up. There are numerous reasons as to why someone does not fuse. With your mentality, I guess I should have sued my surgeon cause I didn't fuse entirely the first time around. Did it ever occur to you that sometimes bad things just happen.

    Sorry to high jack your thread Picklebritches. Nobody wants to have more surgery. My wife is possibly struggling with the same problem. Take a deep breath, timeout, whatever and in 6 weeks talk with your new surgeon to create a plan of action. If you feel the need to see another doctor than by all means, go for it. i wish you the best.

  • Well Dave maybe you need to reread the second post from Pickle. This is a quote from the post

    "He said the plugs hadn't healed and if we do a myelogram, then the next step is surgery to "clean up the mess" and all that that entails, and "you don't want to do that, do you"

    I didn't just make this up and I am very insulted that you think I did. How dare you attack me?

    Pickle came here with a very specific set of complaints about her doctor. I only suggested that based on what she/he said it would probably be a good idea to consult another doctor.
  • Just because there is a mess does not mean that the other surgeon created it. Those are the same words my surgeon used about his own work when I didn't fuse. Your post attacked a doctor you didn't know. How dare you!

  • "C" put a great link to help you understand the term "failed fusion." Almost as many of us that have had fusions, there are similar who have had them fail, myself included. It isn't necessarily anything you did, or the doctor did, $tuff happens as they say. I just hope they are able to get you back on the healing road. Gentle support *hugz* to ya!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Mellow out. No need for so much agression.

    Sometimes things are misconstrued online. I'm sure Kris wasn't trying to insinuate anything.

    I'm guessing you have a lot of pain Dave. I'm sorry if you do.

  • For anyone who is under the assumption that I made any comments about Pickles doctors - please reread the posts from the beginning.

    Dave you are putting words in my mouth that came from Pickles. Obviously you are very upset about something and taking it out on me for some reason. If you have anything to say to me please do so my private message.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    All Kris did is say what picklebritches said - using the words used in the post. She's providing support as she always does...support and a sounding board.

    And Picklebritches: Do you have another doctor you trust like your PCP? Maybe that person could read the tests and talk to you about what has happened and see if referral to another specialist is in order. It can be hard to find another specialist to take over past work but it can be done. I had a problem with the surgeon and process of my ACL repair and did see another surgeon who agreed to address the problem.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Where is the support? "mess his partner made" is not the same as "then the next step is surgery to clean up the mess". I find that an attack on the original surgeon. Trying to stir someones anger up is not support. It's counter productive to what this woman is trying to accomplish, i.e. get to the bottom of what her problem is and understand it. She asked a question and all she got in return was run from her current surgeon who happens to have been partners with the original surgeon that messed her up according to Kris.

    Did you ever think that maybe just maybe her surgeon doesn't want to enter into another surgery because her lupus adds additional complications. Maybe he's making an assumption that she is aware of said complications. Lupus is a disease that turns the body’s defenses against the body itself. Lupus occurs when antibodies attack the healthy cells in the body. Frankly, I'd be very hesitant in having another surgery under those conditions.

    Some of you people always go negative or have negative connotations to your responses. In my opinion that's not support. It gets old watching you people dump your stupid BS all the time. Its sad that some of you think this is acceptable behavior.

  • Please get this thread back on track so that Picklebritches is being helped by all of you and not made to feel bad for posting the question.

    Lupus does seriously complicate any surgical procedure.

    Stuff does happen no matter how spectacular the surgeon is. There's always going to be those who fall into the 2% (or whatever the latest figure is) that have complications.

    When there's multiple concerns about the risk vs benefit of surgery, it really pays to get another opinion if one is available.

  • Pickles,

    Hi there,
    No sense in ignoring the elephant in the room. It appears there is a bit of a disagreement going on. Welcome to Spine Health. Sorry it appears you stumbled into a rough patch. Really, with a family this large there is just no tellin.

    I hope you had a chance to take a look at the link "C" posted. It's actually pretty good.

    It sounds to me like you might have been a little overwhelmed when you were at your appointment. Who wouldn't be. I know many have suggested a new doctor. I'm not saying that's not a good idea. But maybe you should take the next few weeks to do a little research, collect your thoughts, see how the meds work, and make a list of questions for your doctor. During that time you can decide if you want to pursue one more visit with this surgeon (He is a new one anyway) or go out to yet another.

    Either way, Is it possible for you to take someone else with you to your appointment to help be a second set of ears? You do have some important things going on. I know myself I always miss things and my husband will later remind me, "the doctor said..."

    Hang in there and please, come back often. There are some great forums, awesome links and it's a great place to vent. (As you can tell.) OOps!

    Honest, we normally play pretty nice.

  • from Frog here Pickles.

    We really are generally a friendly and supportive bunch :-)
  • Hang in there! I hope that the neurontin will help with your pain and make everything more manageable while you are sorting everything out!

    I take neurontin too. The hospital made a mistake and stopped it while I was hopsitalized following my fusion.

    My pain was aweful and once I restarted the neurontin, it was much better!

    Hang in there! We are here to help in any way we can! I can't imagine where I would be without this forum!

    Wishing you the very best!
Sign In or Register to comment.