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virginiapvvirginiap Posts: 508
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all, I am !3 days post op, full ALIF, no augmentation from back. Instrumentation, cage, ped screws, rod & plate autograph from iliac crest.
Spent 5 days on hospital, surgery went well, had top NS & vascular surgeon handle approach & close. Obviously I am in serious pain, but every day a little better. Lots of meds keeping me sane.
had a middle of the night run to ER other night due to severe leg pain, couple of shots and I was good to go!
Ok, besides the obvious, my belly is SO swollen. I went to NS for incision check friday, nurse was taken back by a large lemon like mass
above and off to the side of incision. I too had noticed it
But due to the massive belly swelling was not very concerned, she had me wait for one of the docs took at. I started thinking hernia. NS, had no clue...he paged my doc who said to send me to vascular doc ASAP for review.

Oh, BTW, @ this point I had only had 1 BM since surgery, only when NS gave me mag citrate (wow). Ok, so vascular surgeon says not sure what this mass is, dosen't think it is hernia, but even if it is can not do anything about that now, basically, wait 2-3 months and we will see, says it could be scar tissues (give me a break!) 8 days after surgery can u have so much scar tissue?
Has anyone had this type of fusion? Has anyone had this type of mass? Again it is above surgical sight.
Vascular did nice close all stitches are internal and just steri strips on skin - is that normal? When should steri strips fall off? Next appt with NS is Sept 13, any thoughts, suggestions or advice, would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for listening!



  • If this were me, I would insist on a CT scan or MRI to see what this mass is. Better to be safe. Keep us posted.

    Best wishes,

  • I was thinking ultrasound or CT, just wasn't sure if any other ALIF patients have had this, docs seemed oddly unsure. I feel like the chick from Alien! Any minute something will jump out!
    All kidding aside, the mass is a bit more tender then the rest of my belly. But that area is hard, vascular doc says hernias usually push in with pressure, this dosent! Just really freaks one out when docs act like
    they haven't a clue.
    Plus all the strange looks from medical professionals when the realize all my surgery was from front, many actually won't believe and have me turn around and check me back.
    Thank you again for reply, these past 2 weeks have been surreal! I just hope to feel better soon. I am on a lot of meds!

  • Hi Virginia! I have something like this and until now haven't heard of anyone else having near the problem with swelling that I have.

    I am 6 months post op from L4-5 360 (both anterior and posterior). I had so much swelling in the hospital that my brace didn't fit and none of my clothes fit. My waist went from 27 to 33! It went down to 31 and measures the same now that it did on day 14.

    My abdominal incision is horizontal from the middle of my stomach to the left side. Above the incision is the swelling and it is a ridge..the swelling just sits there.

    My swelling gets worse the more I am on my feet.
    No one but me seeems to be worrried about it. Around 3-4 weeks post op, they sent me to a general surgeon suspecting a hernia. I don't have a hernia but the pain is coming from the ilio-inginal nerve that is imflammed. The swelling itself causes pain as it pushes on everyting else....

    On top of all of this, I am severely hypothyroid, my level was 62 and it needs to be in the 150's. Part of hypothyroid is weight gain, abdomninal bloating, swelling, muscle pain, painful joints....I am trying to wait until my levels get back up before insisting that something be done about the swelling, but the waiting is hard and none of my clothes fit. :(

    I hope that you are able to get this sorted out. It does give me a bit of comfort to know I am not alone. Hang in there and wishing you the very best!
  • Jayhawk, wow! I find strange comfort in that you know what I mean! Thanks for your reply! I am a tall, thin woman, 105 lbs, was 5'7, but after one level total disc collapse and two other levels with less then 50% of normal hieght, (due to DDD) I've shrung a bit (least of my worries) pre op, my core (abs were not strong at all!, for obvious reasons). Post op, I look 5 mo's pregnant! Very swollen, then there is this...bump, ball, lemon, who knows. My cut is straight mid line, 4 inches vertical, from belly button towards pelvis. Seeing ur surgery has been about 7 months now, are you the same, worse, any better? The ilio nerve u mention, how was that diagnosed? I felt like the vascular guy knew more then he is willing to let on at this stage..."2-3 month" wait & see seems so odd. What will happen in 3 months? The part of my intestine that is screwed up or hernia will automatically fix after 90 days?
    I hope u find relief! I will hang in there with you, and keep you posted, please do the same for me!
  • YaY for a new friend! I have asked so many and looked for someone else who was going thru this! I have worried a lot and went from a size 2-4 to a size 8 and I hate it!

    At and above my insicion is a big ridge of swelling. Directly under it is flat abdomen! So strange. It looks like I, too, am prego only with "the baby" on the left side only! It has become a joke.

    My PM said he had "never seen anything like it". Gee, thanks I feel great now!

    The ilio-inguinal nerve imflamation was diagnosed by the surgeon they sent me to for "the hernia". I started PT on day 14 and suddenly I had this horrible nerve type pain on the left side right under the insicion. My PT put me on hold until they knew for sure what was going on.

    My doc suspected the hernia (my surgeon was out of town) referred me to a general surgeon who then referred me back to my PM. The PM doc was going to do a nerve block, but my spinal surgeon said the chance for infection was too high, and essentially to find a way to tolerate the pain!

    If you do have a hernia, they usually consider that serious enough to have treatment right away and not wait as that part of your intestine will "die", so they must feel confident it's not a hernia.....

    I am much better than presurgery. Having a 360 is amazingly difficult~I have over 26 inches in insicions. I also have my own bone graph and that is very difficult also, but in the long run should be great.

    Presurgery I had significant leg weakness, very brisk reflexes, was falling, having bladder isssues and horrible pain.

    I am getting my life back. It is a very, very long journey with lots of hiccups, but so worth it! Last weekend I went to the NFL Cowboys vs Texans football game. Lots of walking up inclines, lots of stairs and lots of sitting. I knew I would hurt for a couple days afterwards, but it was so worth it and I had a blast.

    I am back to work and able to do most of the household chores (other than vaccuming and mopping~which is fine with me!)

    I promise to keep in touch with you and I am so happy you posted. I can't tell you how much it helps after 6 months of worry, to find someone else on the same path I am on!
  • I had an ALIF and swelling like that was from a hematoma (collection of blood underneath the skin). Ultrasound is an easy diagnosis - I think the doc is pretending they don't know what's going on.
  • First I want to say I hope your recovery goes well for you and you have much less pain. This is a little off course but kind of goes with what optimist said. I had a complete tear of the rotator cuff and had the surgery to repair it. I was in so much pain and the day they send you home they start PT. I cried virtually the whole time as the pain was awful. Well after my bandages were finally removed to clean area we were just floored. The swelling was at minimum the size of a grapefruit very large. No one knew what it was nor seemed to care but I knew something was wrong. Finally it was confirmed it was a blood clot or hematoma the kind where the blood collects under the skin. Had anyone looked at this right away it could have been aspirated and I would have had a good outcome. The surgeon did try to aspirate but waited too long and it had turned into a jelly like substance. So the only thing that could be done was to let my body absorb the clot. This took approx. six months. They had to cancel the PT, I then got a frozen shoulder and had to have a manipulation which retore the rotator cuff. So here I am several years later, disabled from fall at work in complete pain from lumbar issues also had a two level cervical fusion. It's almost as though the rotator cuff although painful is now on the back burner as I am scared to death for anymore surgeries.
    Of course I am no dr but can I suggest you go back to the surgeon and tell him you are concerned you may have hematoma or bloodclot and would they check it. Most surgeons will act as though it is no big deal your body will just absorb it over time. True, but I believe it stalls the healing of the surgery itself.
    Good luck to you.
  • How did you kids get away with such small frontal incisions? Mine goes from the top center of my pubic bone all the way up to the bottom of my left rib cage! I had surgery from the back, then four days (and about three pints of blood later) they went in from the front. Both ends of my scar are healing well (I'm nearly two years out) but the middle, where the waistband from my jeans sits, is pretty lumpy, red, and sore still. Doctor just keeps saying it's not healed yet. @) Ya think?
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • NEW FRIEND Jayhawk,.So happy to hear that! its so important for me in my early stage of the process to remember, THAT IS & WAS THE GOAL is!
    I have been treating myself with all sorts of non surgically options for over 6 years - which for me was a mistake. I should have had non fusion intervention years ago but was so against the knife. I have two other issues (discs) that will need addressing soon, baby steps at this point. I am on lots of meds and its really hard to know what I feel. New PM doc on Thursday, can't wait! ,
  • Thanks for reply! Vascular surgeon did say could be collection of blood, but not sure, not sure on any one think at this point. Except not to ice the area like the NS nurse said,.but rather apply a few minutes of heat a couple of times per day. As far as my extreme lack of ability to go poop......sorry, he refuses to let me use anything other then Metamucil, 20 or so capsules per day and only by the Grace of god and lots of prune juice, I get to go to the bathroom! Ultrasound will be demanded!
    I hope u are or are on your way to recovery!
  • For reply & sharing. Sounds like u have had a really rough time! I hope your journey of pain & suffering finally come to an end and u can enjoy some sort of normal (pain free) life! thank you for yout advice, i will implore my surgeon to not play the wait & see game with me.
    many thanks!
  • 3 levels 360! That's a lot of surgery!
    My NS is amazingly skillful he opted to address just my L4/5; he had originay considered
    to do L3/5. He brought on board a wizard vascular surgeon to do frontal approach & closure. NS used a plate on top of the cage, screws, and rod, so that there would be no need to perform any back surgery.(not even screws) he said with the anterior approach he can use a really big cage which will decompress my forimanial stenosis, thats the plan!
    I hope after 2 years u soon feel great!
  • After such great feedback, I want to thank you all for support and replies! I contacted vascular surgeons office and requested copy of dictation from visit, as I mentioned, he was so vague and I figured his notes may shed more light . he states, "i suspect it is a DEEP SEATED HEMATOMA", I do not feel a defect to make think that this is a hernia. In addition, it is too far superior for that."
    His plan states follow up with NS (next week) and we shall give 2-3 months.. he states he "reassured the patient the best I could."
    Oh, BTW, in history he remarked that I was "beset with a multitude of anxieties, and main concern is a bulge at the superior aspect of her incision which appeared since surgery."
    Thoughts/opinions??? Feedback welcomed & encouraged!
    I have been running low grade fever for 3 days, range 99 - 100.5.
    NS nurse said its ok, unless it reaches 101.5 or higher or if I have any other symptoms.
    Thanks for listening!

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