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Found out yesterday that i am for sure having surgery

wildfire_101wwildfire_101 Posts: 68
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had an appt with my neurosurgeon yesterday and found out that i am having a lumbar spinal fusion done on my L5-S1 disc. According to the discogram and CT scan i had done a few weeks that disc is totally blown..Though the other 3 that they also did are still healthy. So he told me that the type of fusion that he is going to do is a TLIF one. He was pretty honest with me and didnt sugar coat anything about how i was going to feel, that this surgery might not even work.. Though through the 2nd opinion that i got, in which he sent me to that other doc specifically for that reason, and the doc that did the discogram they both gave me a 90% chance that this work. Especially because there is only 1 disc that is damaged. I have another one as well that is herniated but it is L1-2 which is much higher then the other one and at the moment it doesnt really bother me so he decided to take care of this one first and then worry about the other one later, when it becomes a problem. At the moment i am waiting on my insurance to approve the surgery and then they will call me and give me a date but promised to get it done before the end of the year. Right now my deductable is paid for my insurance this year, so i am at a 100% coverage right now until January 1st of 2011. So needless to say this surgery is going to cost me nothing.. thank god because i can only imagine what that is going to cost. Anyway my question is what exactly does TLIF mean? The doc explained it to me but still dont quite understand what it all means and thought someone on here could explain it to me in lamen terms...lol and what kind of recovery am i looking at? Any info on any of this would be appreciated.. I know nothing when it comes to this kind of stuff... Would just like to hear some other stories from people who has had this done or at least knows something about it.How long does this type of surgery take as well? Thank you to everyone and anyone who reads this post and responds...


  • is Transforaminal Interbody Fusion, which means they'll go in between your bones, take out the disc bits, and then put in something to fuse that joint together. It should be a minimally invasive procedure. You can look near the top of this webpage and under "conditions" you can look up lower back problems and treatments. I'm sure you'll find something on TLIF there. There may even be some simulated videos that show how it is done.

    Best of luck to you -- I hope it helps relieve your pain. I was fused from L3-S1 two years ago and am glad I did it.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for the info i will look into it that..and as for the minimally invasive part goes from what he told me it doesnt sound that way... talking about info from the back doctor...i have to have screws and that kind of thing put in on top of having a bone graft, in which i heard can hurt for a while...but i guess we will see how it goes... i am still not sure when the surgery is i am still waiting to find out.. but thanks again for the information i do appreciate it..
  • Hey there...the TLIF is very similar to PLIF. They go in from the back (but off to the side). They can do minimally invasive TLIF or standard TLIF but please know that the words "minimally invasive" is on minimally invasive in the size of the incision and the 'muscle' impact. The surgery itself is still a BIG surgery b/c they are putting rods/screws in your back. So you are right.

    I opted for revision MicroDiscectomy over fusion BUT the fusion option was on the table so I learned a lot on PLIF, PLIF, ALIF.
    Good luck.

    Glad they figured it out before the year is up...I know all too well on that insurance deductable.
  • When it came to what type of surgery to have to fix this problem, the only option i had was a fusion. Nothing else was even ever mentioned or discussed. If there is a difference between minimally invasive and a standard TLIF surgery then i dont know where i fall into which catagory.. Though i do know that i am going to have about a 6inch incision on back after everything is said and done. He did tell me that going in from the back but off to the side was the way that he did alot of these type of surgeries. And that he felt more comfortable doing it that way. He is a new doctor to our area but everyone wants to go there because it takes forever to even get a regular appt with him. we are talking about 3 month waits. But from asking around to the other 5 doctors that i have for various things they all said he is the best here so far and had nothing but good things to say about him. What is funny though i am 33 and he is only a few years older then i am..haha not sure if thats a bad thing or a good thing...lol But he is very up to date on what the new techniques are and what works now and what doesnt. I am actually very happy he is the one doing the surgery. Ok well i am just rambling on and on now.. sorry about that! But like i said there is nothing minimally invasive about it. and he said recovery is going to long and stressful. you have to get used to not doing things that you would normally do on an everyday basis. But with the leg issue that i have and having not much ROM. the recovery will be a little longer for me then for someone who doesnt have this type of issue. But i need to do something then just keep doing nothing. so we will see how it goes. I wont know until i have it done. Thank you for input it is all very helpful.
  • Sounds like you've got a really good surgeon and I hope all goes well for you, and that it won't be too long before you have a date.

    Do have a look at the Post-Op Must Haves at the top of the page. Being well prepared for recovery is essential. Did your doctor explain about the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions during recovery?

    I'm 12 months out now and have had to modify my activities, but I can walk freely and it's good to have my life back again.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Good Luck,
    I had similar surgery, dead center not to side. Details in signature.

    My doc was young too, but good.

    Read up on things you need post op. For me, essentials:

    Toilet booster seat, walker, cane, medical bed rented for one month, grabber (one upstairs/one down), sock donner. If you are alone get stuff to reachable level and you will need some help for a few weeks. BTW, I could get up steps first day athome. slowly. But, used medical bed downstairs to minimize trips up and not bother wife. But, I laid in it a lot with back raised some to watch TV during day. You won't want to lay, stand, or sit for long periods. I did doze off during day on ocassion, and that helped recovery, I think. If you are on one floor no problems.

    My sciatica was gone after surgery, it was bad due to crushed nerve.


    Bad pain for one month then subsiding week by week. Occasional backwards steps on pain in second month. Thought I did something wrong. Just part of process even after seven months. One step forward, half back.

    By start of third month significant gains and off heavy meds.

    Getting out of bed in morning rough, need to log roll as much as possible.

    Don't follow me, follow Doc and PT. But, I quit PT cause they wanted too much too soon. I just walked and did each day/week a little more of my normal round the house stuff. No bending straight down or twisting. But after a couple weeks I did start squatting a little more in light cleaning. Yes, I am male but help wife a lot around house. So, although not in PT, not sedentary by any means.

    Fusion is starting to look good at 6 mos and should be fused at 12, hopefully.

    If surgery done right, it is very hard to damage rods/screws.

    Best decision I made. Lots of days now with no/minimal pain. Nothing to even think much about. Still get a little sore if I overdue. I have done for a couple months now mowing, trimming with gas trimmer, and light garden cleanup for this fall. Like cuting down and bagging perennials.

    Be positive, The first couple weeks I wondered why I did it. But, then remembered for a year before, pain was enough to want to get the knife and do it myself. lol

    You will be fine, positive attitude.

  • Thank you for all the info.. everything i have read on here so far always teaches me something new.. there is always something that i dont know. And i have looked at the recommended post op things and all the lists in fact. Especially the lists that remind of things to do before that day and so on and so forth.. it was all very helpful and i even took notes...haha And i already have pretty much most of the things that you listed for medical equipment, minus the rented bed and the toliet booster seat. These things i aquired during the flare ups with my leg. though i have a question, is a bath chair useful? was thinking about getting one but they are expensive and before i go out and buy one just wanted to make sure it would get used. Especially with how much one of those things cost, wasnt sure if it was a good idea. So if someone has used one and it has came in handy please let me know. I have a grabber already, invested in one of those a few weeks ago. and yes it is quite handy to have around the house, especially with me only being 5'2. My house is only one floor so i dont have to worry about stairs. I dont have stairs in my house being of the ROM loss in my left leg, it is to hard to climb them.I was told when i start PT it will be a long hard battle because of the leg problems. I cant squat or do any of those kinds of things because my leg doesnt bend that far. so it shall be interesting in how it all goes but thank goodness I have really good insurance. Any other info anyone wants to contribute i will gladly take. when i have a date for the surgery i will let everyone know. I should hear something back no later then next Tuesday. Thanks again for all the contributions. I will keep checking this thread and see if there is anything new...
  • LOL - sorry. I know you're new to all of this and yes, you're right, anyone going in and messing with your spine and fusing your joints does NOT sound minimally invasive, no matter how they dress it up. If you're lucky enough to have your procedure as planned, and they can fix everything through that small incision in your side, it will be a lot less invasive than what I had -- two big incisions in my back to place the rods and screws, four extra days in the hospital while getting three units of blood to help replace what I had lost, and then a huge incision from my pubic bone up to the bottom of my ribcage to get the discs out through the front and fill the spaces with dowels, bone graft, BMP and my own bone marrow. The invasive part is all relative!

    Surgery is never fun, no matter what. It sounds like you've got a good doc and I wish you a speedy recovery.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Yes, I did use a bath chair and found it useful.
    Before my surgery, I had asked why I would need one and was told that after surgery, you will feel very weak and tired and so being able to sit down to shower will be helpful. That was true at first.

    Then, as I progressed into my recovery, I have found it useful to sit on it, put my leg onto the side of the bath, and then I can shave my legs.

    The one I bought has adjustable legs, so the height of it can be changed as required.

    I wish you well, and will follow how things go for you. :-)
  • Yes, I did use a bath chair and found it useful.
    Before my surgery, I had asked why I would need one and was told that after surgery, you will feel very weak and tired and so being able to sit down to shower will be helpful. That was true at first.

    Then, as I progressed into my recovery, I have found it useful to sit on it, put my leg onto the side of the bath, and then I can shave my legs.

    The one I bought has adjustable legs, so the height of it can be changed as required. Actually, it is a shower stool, which was cheaper and worked just fine.

    I wish you well, and will follow how things go for you. :-)
  • Yes definately get a potty booster and a bath chair.
    I tried to shower with my husbands assistance and passed out because I was so weak. It takes a good 2-3 weeks to take one without it. I didn't get a potty booster and I regret it. It was very painful getting up from the potty so low.
  • Sorry I forgot that. ESSENTIAL!

    I got mine from Gold Violin:

    URL Removed

    The 40.00 one. Want adjustable legs for your right height.

    This is not exactly mine, didn't see it. But, close. Mine was rated 300lbs, that you don't need. I am 220lb.

    It is shower and bath, just check dimensions against your shower/tub. We have a walk-in shower, so size not an issue.

    Oh yea, an extended brush for your feet and lower legs, I still use mine.



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