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How long is the op for a L5-S1 fusion ? and what will i have on me ??

JaniebabyJJaniebaby Posts: 93
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
just wondering how long the op is , and will i be on drips and drains ??
also do they catherise you ??
Any info would be great ??


  • Every surgery is different...your surgeon can give you the best estimate about how long the procedure will take him to perform, as well as drips/drains.
    There are so many variables. Fusion patients do have to be catherized, which is a good thing, since it will be many hours before getting out of bed afterward.

    Good luck and take care,

  • Thankyou , guess i have to wait till the 10th of sept when i see my dr , my op is 11 days later ,
    Is it normal to feel very nervous , ive been waiting 6 months for this date and now its in writing im already in a state !!!
  • Operation was four hours. Hubby was on a morphine drip for two days, had a drain in for four days and was catherised. No brace as his surgeon does not use them. He came home on the fifth day with no pain but, reading the posts here, I think he was lucky there.We are now almost nine weeks past the operation and will see the surgeon on August 24 to see how he is doing.
  • Thanks for the time , did they let you see your
    hubbie when he came out of theatre ??
    just so that i can tell my husband
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You can find a lot of articles and videos on this site that addresses your particular fusion. Also, as I think you alrady found out, the members of this forum are very friendly and supportive.

    I'll just tell you my personal experience with my L4/5 fusion. The operation was about four hours. My cervical fusion was first thing in the am, but my lumbar fusion wasn't until 3:30 in the afternoon. Talk about nerves... When the surgery was done, I woke up in the recovery room with my husband, brother and sister-in-law with me. That wasn't until 9pm. I guess it took me a while to wake up.

    I was then wheeled to my room once they estabished that I was stable and I don't really remember much from that time. I started becoming more aware and coming out of the anesthesia by the middle of the night, about 3am or so.

    I had a morphine pump where I could push a button when I needed pain relief, but there was a problem that I would sleep and wake up an hour or so later not having pushed the button and in severe pain. They decided in the middle of the night to keep my pump on a permanent drip to keep pain meds in me when I slept, but not so much that I couldn't still push the button for pain relief.

    I was catheterized because, like Lisa said, it takes a day or so before you're able to get up and out of bed.

    My surgery was on a Wednesday and they removed the catheter by end of day Thursday and put me on oral pain meds by Friday am. The danged PT guy came in twice a day to get me up and walking and he's the guy, other than the doctor, that helps determine when you can go home. You have to prove to the PT that you can walk, get in and out of a car, climb steps, get on and off the toilet, etc. before he'll deem you ready to go home.

    My doctor wanted me to stay until Saturday, but my nurse conived with me to get me home Friday evening. I worked hard walking around the floor myself, dragging along my tubes, and made them feel comfortable sending me home, with the help of my nurse. My doc said that if my draining was less than 50g, I could go home and my nurse looked at the output and said, "What do you know, your output is at 49. You can go home!" She knew how badly I wanted to be home.

    This is all my experience only and it may have been different for others, but this is the way it was for me. The first few weeks were the very worst during recovery, then it started getting better, slowly, but it did start getting better.

    If you're having a difficult time with nerves, ask your surgeon if he can give you something to take in the weeks leading up to surgery, such as Xanax, to help you. My doc prescribed these for me before both of my surgeries. Some surgeon totally understand how scary this is for the patient and luckily mine is one of those.

    Take care and feel free to ask any more questions you have or PM me if you'd like.

  • Had L5-S1 fusion with 3 laminectomies (L-2, L-3, L-4) on July 16th. Surgery was 10 hours! Yes I was cathed. Didn't have any drains and only a IV port for IV pain meds. No pump, which I would liked. 4 days in hospital and 8 days in rehab hospital.

  • Thanks for all your replies so far xxx
  • Welcome to S/H
    I had a l4/l5/s1/ fusion.
    I assume i had a catheter, but it was out before i woke up.
    was on morphine pump, press button every 8 minutes.
    i also had a drain in back.
    I was in hospital for 2 days,
    Walking on the same day of surgery.
    My surgery took 6 1/2 hours.
    Used a walker for 2 weeks, and a cane for 3 months.
    Wore a back brace for 4 months, then i started therapy,
    I am 5 months post-op right now.
  • My surgery took 6hrs and I had a morphene pump, but no drains. I was catheterized for several day. The day after surgery Physical Therapy comes to get you out of bed and walking with a walker.
    (Just do as much as you can bear.) I just made it a few steps in the room..not even out the door. You do get stronger as the days pass.
    Speedy Recovery to you.
  • Hi Janiebaby,

    This is my personal experience:

    ADR & Anterior Fusion of L4-S1
    Monday morning in 7:30-12:30 out,saw hubby but was pretty much out of it until Tuesday morning
    Cathe in until Wed. morning
    No drains
    Morphine injections into IV 2 days then switched to Lortab every 4 hrs.

    X-rays day after and PT to get out of bed with velcro brace, like others had to walk around and do stairs before returning home.Not to much pain but noticed tightness in back.

    was discharged Thursday morning with script for asprin 1xday for 2 mnths, vicodin 7.5/325 every 4hrs for pain, Milk of meg and colace so I didn't strain

    Also gave me something to kick start my intestines from them touching them during surgery but only the days in hospital.

    I have no other health issues so the surgery was pretty standard. Hope this helps
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. :)

    I haven't had my fusion yet (scheduled for 9/20/10) but it will be a 2-level interbody fusion done posteriorly (from the back), with pedicle screws. My surgeon said it will take 5 hours and I'll be in the hospital for 5 days. Don't know about drains or catheterization but my pre-op visit is the week before surgery and he will probably explain what to expect at that time.

    Do you know what kind of fusion you're going to have and which approach your surgeon plans to use (posterior or anterior)? Some spineys have 360 degree fusions with cages, etc.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I had L4/L5 fusion on 10/6/09 the operation took about 4 hrs no drip,drain or cath and I went home the next day.I wish you the best.
  • I had PLIF L4/L5 fusion with pedicle screws, rods and cage. Surgery was about 5 hours and had cath and pain pump. When I got to my room from recovery, I made all my own phone calls to let family know I was out of surgery (mind you I don't remember any of the calls and everyone said I sounded like I was drunk). I had the cath till the next morning. x-rays first thing the next morning and PT came that afternoon to get me up. I didn't make it far because I was too dizzy with all the meds. By the next day I was begging to go home and they made me sit in the chair, I had to stop the pushing the button for pain meds for a certain amount of time before they considered letting me go home, and I was finally able to walk around and go to the PT room and do a couple exercises/walk up stairs. By this point, I was walking without the walker. I had a back brace for 2 months and then started PT.

    Best wishes for you during your surgery and recovery.

  • L/S1 fusion with cage.

    Surgery 5 1/2 hours or so
    Drip and catheter coming out of the body.
    IV and Pain pump going into the body!
    No braces
    Support stockings (those things sucked)
    Leg inflation devices for circulation
    Bruised arms, wrists and knees.

    I stayed 5 nights. I had a reaction to the Dialud after a day(think that's the right spelling) as it put my esophageal hernia out of control to the point I couldn't swallow. Took a few days to calm things down. Ortho was ready to send me home after 3 nights.
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