Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Plastic spacers for 3 levels??

MJMcDevittMMJMcDevitt Posts: 71
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
After a failed L5-S1 fusion last July, I have started looking into other ways to relieve my pain. I found a spine clinic and sent all my MRI's and Cat scans. The doctor called me today and said that I am a prime candidate for plastic spaces to be inserted at L2-L3, L3-L4 and L4-L5. The surgery would be from the side (lateral) and should take 3-4 hours. It would be outpatient and I would be released the same day. But because I live more that an hour from the doctor, I would need to stay in a local hotel for up to 3 days in case they needed to do anything or any problems.
Like I said, I had a 10 hour spine operation last year and stayed in the hospital for 6 days and then to a rehab hospital for 8 days. Now this guy is saying "bing bang boom" and I am fixed.

Anyone have info on this procedure. Is it the PEEK spacer that I am reading bad things about?


Post Edited by Administrator Dave


  • Hi,

    I have L5/S1 fused in march and when they got in they found they needed to put a spacer in. The only problem I had was that they had to spread the vertebrae to get the spacer in and this caused a little more pain and more recovery time as a ligament got stretched too. But I am fine now. Good luck and let us know your outcome.

    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.
  • Matt,

    Usually if it sounds to good to be true it usually is. Don't you think that if the fix was that easy, and worked, that everybody and their brother would be having it done. It throws up red flags to me. From what I know you can not go in through the side without some good sized nerve irratation or damage. It is one of the reasons that surgeons generally don't use this approach. No hospital stay is most likely because the procedure is being done in the Dr's own surgery center and he doesn't have provisions or the staff to do things correctly. Just my opinion.

    What went wrong with your fusion that is causing you to look at this approach?
  • The fusion did not improve anything except my ability to stand straighter. The pain did not improve at all (but didn't get worse). Surgeon told me afterwords that fusion doesn't always relieve facet joint pain.

  • Stay in a hotel!?
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • I think he would need to stay in a hotel because he doesn't live near Atlantic City and because it's an outpatient procedure........in case he would need to go back due to issues.

    I don't know. No offense, but I would be a bit leery. If it were me, I wouldn't be doing it; I would be running (all right.....walking briskly) the other way.

  • Have you had any other surgical opinions? It might be prudent to get another view before having 3 levels done.

    Is your failed fusion just due to continued pain, or is there non-fusion. Is your hardware intact?


  • That is why I am asking questions. I am going back to my surgeon for my one year checkup from the fusion. I know I am fused. He has already told me he is not suggesting any more surgery, I will have to live with what I got.

    I am not willing to quietly go into the night and keep suffering. I am investagating all avenues and I am not going to jump on the first one that says he can help me. I do not look forward to any more surgery. But if I find someone that I can trust and they feel VERY confident that they can help me then I will consider more surgery.

    Keep the comments coming. I have already emailed this doctor asking him to explain the whole surgery and what exactly he will be putting into me. He told me that the spacers are just put in. When I asked how they are attached he said they weren't. Still having a problem with that answer.


  • Wow, that is an interesting answer. I would have a problem with it too!!

    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.
  • I tried to look up the clinic in NJ but there are a number with that name and none show the type of surgery you mentioned. What town is it in?

    Post Edited by Administrator Dave
  • Like others have said -- this sounds too good to be true. I needed to have cages and grafts put in at three levels. They thought they'd go in from the back (to the side) and do it. I have two scars on my back from where they tried to get the old discs out and replace them. In surgery for over 9 hours and they couldn't get them out, so I was in the hospital for four more days while they gave me blood (lost too much the first day) and then took the discs out and replaced them from the front. Outpatient and stay in a hotel????? I don't think so. Somebody's blowing some major smoke here.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I spoke to the doctor again today. Told him I could not wrap my head around the idea of inserting a spacer with no fixation. He told me to come to the surgery center in Union, NJ (about 1 1/2 hours away) and he and another surgeon would talk to me and show me a video of the procedure. I just might take them up on their offer.

  • Looking into. Find out how many of these procedures they've done and what their success rate is. It really sounds a bit too good to be true, but if they've done a bunch of them and have happy patients, it may be worth a shot. Just be careful!
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I took a 1 1/2 hour car ride to see the surgeons for this procedure. It is an XLIF procedure. They (of course) said that I was a "perfect" candidate for this operation. When I asked about fixation I was told that they hammer in the spacers and the spacers have spikes on them that inbed into the vertebre above and below. I told him I had researched the PEEK spacers and that there were a lot of lawsuits against doctors because they were inserted without fixation and the FDA approval of PEEK requires fixation. Well, I really got a song and dance about that. I also asked if me having sleep apena would be a problem, No problem at all. Even though when I had my laminectomy in 2009 the surgeons own surgical center wouldn't do it there because of the apena, I had to go to the hospital.

    I am going to discuss this with my current surgeon. The procedure is interesting, but I won't get it done by those clowns!

  • I think that's a smart way to do it, Matt.....by discussing it with your own surgeon. By doing that, he would be able to give his own non-biased opinion.

    Good call!

  • I had spacers put in at multilevels at the same time (after they took out the discs) and they also put in cages and bone to help keep the spacers in place. The levels were then fused both front and back and with screws and rods added in the back. I spent a week in the hospital.

  • I have Danek PEEK spacers at my L4-5 Fusion level. I am solidly fused now, but I still have a host of issues, including severe pain. My doctor and much of the the research that I have done did not claim that he could diminish my pain, just stabilize my spine.

    I managed the anesthesia for a surgical center before I had my fusion. In the state where I live, we can do sleep apnea patients in the center, but they have to stay overnight in the hospital to monitor their respiratory status. We did not do any fusions in the center however, they were always done in the adjacent hospital operating rooms, even the so-called minimally invasive ones.

    If you are staying in a hotel, is there a registered nurse staying with you at all times??

  • The Dr office called me today. I told them that while I was interested in the procedure, I wouldn't have it done by them. He asked why and I told him that I was not comfortable with their answers about fixation of the PEEK spacer and also that my sleep apena would be "no problem".

    He tried to talk me into it. I told him that I needed to be comfortable with the surgeons and that I wasn't happy with them. I will try someone locally.

  • Good for you Matt and I hope you find someone who will make you comfortable with the surgery very soon.

    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.