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Follow up duration

kyadog115kkyadog115 Posts: 266
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
HI all..
Quick question please. My L5 S-1 Fusion surgery is scheduled for the 20th. During my last mtg w/the surgeon he said he "Follows" patients for 2 years after this procedure. That to me, seems like a long time. Does it sound reasonable to you all? In discussing the surgery also, he said a "Minamally invasive" fusion. I recall him using that term.Is there such a thing I wonder? IN 08 I had a 3 level ACDF and I actually fused ahead of schedule. I cannot recall now the duration but it was nowhere near 2 years.



  • 2 years seems a little long but not out of the question. My doc says at least a year.

    Minimally invasive is what I got on July 16th. I have just 5 2" scars on my back from fusion of L5-S1 and decompresion of L2, L3, L4. 10 hour operation and just 5 small incisions. If you want to see the picture go to my blog where I document the 2 weeks after surgery, there are pics.



  • Lumbar spinal fusion takes longer to heal/fuse than cervical fusion. I don't know for sure why, but I would imagine it could be because that area bears far more weight.

    I have heard of surgeons following their fusion patients for 2 years, but I believe that up to 1 year is more common.

    My after surgery visits were at 10 days (staple removal) 7 weeks (x-rayed to check hardware and look for signs of fusion - none visible) and 12 weeks. He doesn't want to see me again until 12 months when he will x-ray again to look for signs of fusion.

    I did have to see him a couple of other times because I had an infection and he wanted to check that it was responding to the antibiotics.

    Hope that your surgery goes well. Your surgeon sounds like he keeps a good eye on his patients.

  • Normally this is done so that if you have any problems down the road, you can still get in to see the surgeon without having to get a new referral. Basically think of it as they keep you in their system, so if you need the help, you can receive the help without some other well intentioned doc making you jump through hoops to get back in to see the surgeon.

    At least that's how it works where I come from. Just a nice little safety net for you.

  • I think it is well within reason your surgeon is going to follow you for so long. C, brings up a good point about the referral issues. Some surgeons also like to make their own statistics as to how well their patients are doing and not use others statistics. I have seen some surgeons releasing patients before fusion is completed. Then the person has issues latter and thinks they are fused as they were never told different. So they are shocked when they find out they never had a fusion. Also fusions can self absorb themselves.

    The bones in the cervical spine are smaller so you don't have as much bone to grow. But the bad thing is if something goes wrong in the cervical spine the outcomes can be far bigger issues, as the spinal cord is there. So while the fusion may not take as long they need to monitor the patients more for signs of something going wrong. Sounds like your surgeon is going to take good care of you.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    My prior Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and my current OSS both have around a 2 year follow up.

    After surgery it's monthly for the first 6 months. Then at 9 months, 12 months and then if all goes well they request you come back at 24 months. If at 12 months there is more fusing they'd like to see then they ask that you come at 15 mo, 18 mo, etc.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Thanks for all that everybody!!
  • schedule sounds like what my Orthopedic surgeon followed for my partial shoulder replacement. When I hit the two year point he did an Xray and said it looks to still be fine.

    He asked that I return in 2 years, or every 2 years I guess. He will do an X ray at those points and check for anything going "wrong". Since we don't know for sure what caused my original necrosis he wants to watch for any recurrence. (which I refuse to allow, no sir, I just won't stand for it).

    Anyway, with my schedule for a shoulder, I certainly see nothing wrong with yours being a spine!
  • kyadog115 said:
    HI all..
    Quick question please. My L5 S-1 Fusion surgery is scheduled for the 20th. During my last mtg w/the surgeon he said he "Follows" patients for 2 years after this procedure. That to me, seems like a long time. Does it sound reasonable to you all? In discussing the surgery also, he said a "Minamally invasive" fusion. I recall him using that term.Is there such a thing I wonder?

    2 years does sound like a long time but not necessarily a bad thing. I had a minimally invasive TLIF at L5/S1 and the follow up schedule was 2 weeks, 3 months and then at 1 year. My fusion and subsequent hardware removal went horribly wrong and I have not even bothered to go back to this 'highly regarded' surgeon since the hardware removal. He does not even know just how bad things went after the hardware removal as I have never been back since the 2 week follow up so his self reported success statistics must be skewed. I think that if a surgeon wants to follow his work for an extended period of time it can only benefit you and others who will undergo a similar surgery. If your surgeon is progressive and using newer techniques/equipment as mine did then I would think they want to know the long term outcome.
  • Hi, My ortho-spine surgeon in NYC follows @ 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 1 1/2 year and releases at 2 years. His PAs' have given me a phone call btw. visits to make sure things are cool. He said it really takes 1 year to solidly fuse, and 2 years to be as hard as all you other bones. I too started fusing ahead of the "norm" @ 6 weeks and very visible @ 3 months. Enough so that he would let me do out-side PT 2 times a week. Which, by the way, really kicks your body after only walking for 3 1/2 months. It's a tough ache, but not at all like the pain of before the fusion. I sleep and walk around without leg or back pain. It is very amazing. Good luck. We're here for support. :D
  • Thanks all........I cannot wait to be "back Pain free"I hope it works for me !
  • We will see him again in January barring any complications and then I think in another six months. After that, I don't know.
    I read your blog and really got some insight from it. For one thing it appears that no matter where you are there are caring health care workers and then there are those who abuse their position. And for another, either our surgeon was very accomplished or hubby was very lucky because he has had no complications at all so far.
    But it was great to hear that you are doing much better and I hope you get off the pain pills soon.
  • It was JMMcD's blog I was reading and partially responded to. Sorry for the error.
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