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L5-S1 Spinal Fusion questions

finchfryffinchfry Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Soo... I'm new to this forum, so I'm not exactly sure where to go for these questions, so I hope I've found the right place. I haven't gotten a consultation yet, that'll happen next week, but I've been told by two doctors already that spinal fusion is the best option for my spine.
As my condition has been described to me, I have asymmetrical facets in my L5 and S1 vertebrae. There is some bulging in my L4 and L3. My L5 has fallen into the S1 and is tearing away the disc between it.
So I guess my major questions are:

- How dangerous is the spinal fusion procedure?
- After the procedure, how many days might I have to stay in the hospital?
- How many weeks/months will I be unable to work?
- Are there any concerns that I am not aware of that I should be prepared for?



  • Welcome to Spine Health. You will find it a great forum. I have had 4 back surgeries and 3 of those fusions. My most recent fusion was L5/S1.

    To try and answer your questions: Any major surgery has its risks but I have never had any problems with any of my back surgeries. I was off work 3-6 weeks, 3 weeks for 2 surgeries, 6 weeks for the last fusion. A lot depends on your health and what your job entails. And what they do when they are doing the surgery. Sometimes they find things when they get inside. On my L5/S1 they found that the disc was too far gone and I needed a spacer and that meant the vertebrae had to be separated before they were fused. A little tougher and longer recovery. Recovery actually takes at least a year to get back as close to normal as possible.

    Some concerns are your preparation BEFORE surgery. I had a safety bar installed in my tub (its a tub/shower), got a long handled shoe horn, but I try and wear slip on shoes except for walks. Wearing socks is over-rated!! Get a grabber for reaching things. Plan to have things you use regularly that you might normally bend over to get up higher.

    Hospital stay depends on many things. One of which is whether the surgeon goes in from the front or the back. Surprising the front is easier because there are more muscles in the back to get thru. I have had 2 thru the front and 2 thru the back. Should have had zippers installed. My hospital stays were 3-5 days.

    I hope this answers some of your questions. Please don't hesitate to ask more either thru the forum or private message.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Thank you very much for responding. This was very helpful. The idea of this surgery is scaring the hell out of me, not only for the surgery, but trying to survive post-surgery and not being able to work. But this helps, so thank you.
  • Do as much research as you can and ask the doctor lots of questions. Make a list so you don't forget anything. Its worth it, even tho the recovery is tough at first.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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