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MRI after micro L5-S1 surgery

grayboy79ggrayboy79 Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My question is simple. How soon can I expect to get a MRI after my micro? I feel like something is wrong and I think only a MRI will convince my Ortho.


  • It depends...if you fell or know you lifted, twisted, bent wrong to create a pain, you can ask for one.

    If there is nothing 'specific' but you just don't feel improvement...most doctors want to wait at least 6 weeks but my experience was...let's wait 10-weeks because he wanted to make sure surgical inflammation was gone and that the MRI could have the best chance of showing difference between scar tissue and additional herniation.

    My advice?
    Here's how I handled it with my post-op appointments

    At 2-weeks...going to be tough to get the MRI but make sure you tell your doctor how you are feeling.

    At 6-week...I told him again, something wasn't right and that the surgery wasn't gratifying. I told him that in fact, I was back on pain meds and barely making it through the day. I asked if it was worth the MRI. He said he wanted to try a couple sessions of Physical Therapy and a prescription of prednison b/c he thought maybe with the increased activity, I had bad inflammation (I didn't think so but he was the doctor).

    I got him to commit to seeing me at the week 9-10 mark...which is in theory, when he'd release me from his care if things were good.

    Well, at week 9 or 10 when I saw him he still didn't think I needed the MRI. He said give it time and I could always come back in another month or 2.

    How did I approach it? I was polite but firm.
    I said "Listen, I know you said it takes time but you told me several times the surgery should be very gratifying for me. It is anything but gratifying. I just don't feel right leaving here not knowing if something is wrong."

    He still pressed on to say I was worrying for nothing and that I was just slower to heal that most.

    My reply? "I said I appreciate that but I need peace of mind. I don't want to walk out of here and wait any longer. If I wait and find out 2 months from now that I re-herniated...that's 2 extra months my nerves are compressed and I will be mad at myself".

    He agreed that for my peace of mind he would send me for the MRI with/without contrast. But he was SO convinced nothing would appear that he said we didn't need another appointment.

    I got the MRI...and the next day his office called and said I needed to come in to meet the doctor. (I knew this b/c I had the image and could see another herniation). He was glad I pushed for the new MRI.

    So...long story...but if you think something is not right, definitely push for another MRI at week 6...even if he wants to wait until week 10 or so.

    I'm sorry you are having doubts on the surgery.

    (Good news is I had a revision MD and I feel significantly better)
  • I had the same situation as DNice. I really knew something wasnt right and my surgeon's nurse was giving me a really hard time about another MRI 4 weeks after surgery. I wasn't very happy with them for that so I went to a different doctor that Ive seen in the past and he ordered it.

    I understand the feeling that you just need to know one way or another. If you really dont fell right they will make you wait, but I would do anything I could to get an MRI after about 1 month post op.

  • thnk yall so much for the input, i am currently at the 10 or 11 week mark. he rushed through my last appointment so will have to wait an go back again and see if i can convince him to look at it. he is one of the best in my region so it is hard to get quality time. he had the same surgery as me and was back at work in 2 weeks. i dont know how he did it cause i couldnt.
  • Definitely...call them back and tell them you want to talk to the surgeon. If he won't help you, then call your general practitioner and tell him your concerns and pain. It's always good to have a good relationship with your GP just in case.

    Hopefully, though, your surgeon will agree to order the MRI...it's been long enough.

    Good luck!
  • I get that feeling you get when someone dosent care or want you around from my surgeon. He says I should not have any pain in my buttock or leg. i feel like I have to convince him of everything. But I asked for a refferal to a neuro or pm today, and
    I made a appointment with a new ortho to get everything looked at. Is it wrong to ask for a refferal from a doctor?
  • Hey there, I'm so sorry you are feeling like your current doctor is not interested anymore. Honestly, it's how I felt (sort of).

    My initial surgeon was not the one I wanted in the practice but I couldn't wait for the one I wanted to return from vacation so he referred me to his partner. Well, he wasn't a bad surgeon but he just didn't want to hear of the surgery 'failing'. I really think he wanted to list me as another success. However, after pushing for the MRI, his tune changed. He told me he'd do the revision. I told him I wanted a 2nd opinion. He said absolutely and not only referred me to another surgeon, he also supported me getting a remote opinion from eCleveland.

    That being said, I went to his referral (who I liked but that was out of network). I ended up completely switching surgeons. The one I picked told me all my options on next steps, risks, and we walked through what ifs for future. He said he wanted to talk through everything so I could be sure I was picking him for the long haul. That was exactly what I wanted.

    So, it's not bad to ask for a 2nd opinion or referral. Most surgeons, regardless of their ego, are able to admit they are human and not God and welcome a 2nd opinion.

    Don't feel limited to this other opinion. But you are doing the right thing. Something isn't right, you should feel better, not everyone does but knowing you don't feel better...they should do another MRI.
  • I removed this...accidentally posted twice.
  • Thanks yall, this forum has been more help then I thought it could be. Nice to hear from individuals that have similar exp.
    I will keep yall posted

    forever greatful, grayboy
  • I've experienced both situations.

    The first where I thought / felt like I had re-herniated but was wrong and the other when I thought I reherniated and was right.

    When I pursued the follow up MRI with my surgeon, he definitely said "No, it's too soon...yada yada yada..."
    In advance of the surgery, he gave me some literature about post-op imaging studies and how he handles those situations.
    I will try to find it tomorrow (gotta dig thru my file cabinet in the garage) and if I find it, I will post it here for a different perspective.

    Another time, I just went to a nearby chiropractor, had a consult, and got a script for an MRI right then and there. The next morning I went to the MRI place, asked to pay cash (their cash price at that time was $300), got scanned, and was given my actual films. Away I went. Boom boom boom. No fuss, no muss.

    You are the consumer/patient. You can take charge of your situation and call the shots in many situations.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I went to see a new gp today as i am in a new town and need one anyways. I talked to him about my concerns that I think may have a reherniation and at the very least, tht I am in a lot of pain. He was great, he listened asked questions,did a couple of exam things. he said if I am still hurting that I should let the surgeon know. i explained that I had and that the surgeon told me I should be recovered and that I cant have moderate or severe pain at this point. This GP was amazing, it was like talking to my uncle, wow, he then said he would order another mri for me and refer me to a pain clinic. He is getting my records from the ortho and he is taking over my care til I get into see the PM clinic, and wrote me a perscription to help with pain til all the records make it to the proper place and the clinic allows me to make an appointment. And he gave me enough medicine to survive til the PM appointment. i DONT HAVE TO GO SEE THAT ORTHO EVER AGAIN!!! Should I let my ortho know I am not coming back, or can I just not go back? At my last appointment on the 5th he didnt bother to tell me when I should come back. So I figure if I dont go back and another doctor request my records he will get the idea. THANK YOU LORD!! FOR CARING DOCTORS

    And thank you guys for taking the time to reply with some good advice and empathy.. this forum will be a big part of my recovery from now on. We all need emotional support,empathy and advice to get through this not just pt,meds, and a doctor. I am starting to realize that a support system aside from family is essential.
  • Excellent news. It's so refreshing to read of a healthcare professional that cares, takes action, and actually wants to help get to the cause of the situation.

    Just remember to take one day at a time, one step at a time. Good luck and let us know how things go.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I'm so glad you found a good GP!
    As for the Ortho...no need to say anything just yet.
    Make sure your GP gets your records and the surgical/post operative report. Good to have for your records.

    I would hold off on telling him you are done just yet. Just in case the new surgeon or whatever needs to talk to him or the office, there's no sense saying officialy "good-bye". Besides, they'll figure it out.

    Glad you have some support finally!!!
  • Just a reminder, I hope you are not getting pain medication from more than one Dr.,I would not want you to get into trouble.

    The OS may be important to the outcome of your surgery and surely there is more to learn there, as this was not all about medication, but have you been released from this surgeon yet?
  • Robin...such a good point! I only got meds from one doctor at a time to ensure no one suspected me of 'drug seeker' type patient.
  • I have gotten a prescription from my gp. This should be ok since I am not going back to my OS right?
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