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Need help, any feed back appreciated!

sarahd28ssarahd28 Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have a herniated disk, L5,S1, and I have been recommended to undergo a discectomy by my orthopaedic surgeon. He has told me I have a fifteen to twenty percent chance of needing a fusion as well after the first surgery. He has given me the option to choose if I want it all done at once. Any response is appreciated related to both recoveries, surgical experiences and so on. Thanks in advance!
Sarah D


  • Is that the one and only professional opinion you have so far?
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Yes, it is. I plan on scheduling for a second opinion after the holiday weekend, but also would like some feed back from people who have gone before me.
    Sarah D
  • Paul has it nailed Sarah. My back is once again on hold, but for my neck I got 3 opinions (revision) and except for one level all fairly well agreed.

    With one level, and 2 options so far I would get more info (using maybe opinions from both a Neurosurgeon and Orthopedic) as they do look at our spine differently!!

    Remember, it is your body, you are the customer, and as the customer, they need to give us details, explanations etc. Please let us know how it goes. Welcome to Spine Health!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Sarah,

    Almost forgot. For my lumbar both Ortho and Neuro agree to a laminectomy for my L5/S1,(I have a fatty tumor there - disk is fine) but they differ in my L2/3/4 (again on hold due to my neck issues - see sig), the Ortho feels I could buy time with laminectomy for the upper lumbar, and Neuro sees "two" surgeries if I opt for a laminectomy - the disk is still damaged, so eventually it will continue to extrude further out - back to square one.

    That might be what your surgeon is getting at. Trim the lamina to give your exit nerves "breathing room" is great, but if they keep "breathing"/extruding, eventually more maybe needed surgically - for some (hence the extra opinions) the health of your disk is such that it is fairly stable, "or", it may fail later - that is part of the answers you need to get. Disk status vs Laminectomy or Fusion. I hope that helps.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Welcome to spine health! Glad to hear that you are going to go and get another opinion. Surgery is such a personal choice and then when you are given the option on which surgery to choose, it is even more to think about. Everyone on here has there own experiences with both surgeries, alot good for both, and unfortunately alot not. In the end, you and your surgeons will have to figure out the best surgery for you.

    I had multiple opinions from both ortho and neuro. The ones that thought that I should have a fusion, did not perform fusions, only discectomies/lamis. The one that did fusions/discetomies thought I should have a discectomy. Sooo confusing. I ended up having the discetomies/lamis as for myself I wanted to try the least invasive first to see if it would help. Unfortunately it has not 8 weeks out.I am now back at square one.

    Do you have multiple issues going on with your spine along with the herniation. Do you have facet issues or stenosis, DDD etc? These are all considerations to think of when doctor's recomend a certain surgery.

    Have you tried multiple conservative treatments such as physio, ESI's, accupunture, heat/cold, tens?

    So please do get multiple opinions, way the odds of each, and we will be here cheering you on through recovery.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Would you mind sharing with us a little bit about how you came to be in pain and what modalities of treatment you've tried?

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I have tried chiropractic treatment. It has worked to relieve some of my pain (muscle spasms and what not, I'm sure you all feel my pain!), but doesn't resolve the issue. I came to be injured during a fall at work, when I tried to correct my fall from backwards to forwards. I have had the herniated disk since oct2010. The herniation is very large, and the surgeons physician assistant said that I could do all the physical therapy I wanted and there is really no way the disk will retreat back to its normal position. As I mentioned before, the surgeon recommends atleast a discectomy. I am quite young, and looking to have another child, go back to work etc. The reason I am leaning towards a more permanent solution.
    Sarah D
  • I'm sorry you are being faced with this at such a young age. I am 29 and just underwent my first spine surgery in July, and I am now partially regretting it. I tried other treatments such as injections, PT, medications, etc, but nothing helped. I had the surgery and felt okay for a couple of weeks before developing new pain from another disc that is herniated and has gotten worse. I can't help but wonder if the surgery some how shook things up and caused this already herniated disc to get worse. I just finished my third round of oral steroids and am having an epidural injection on Tuesday. If that doesn't work, it's back to the OR for another operation. And if any of these discs re-herniate, it would mean a fusion for me...at 29. Yup.

    Anyway, I definitely agree with getting a second and even THIRD opinion. I got 3 opinions...an ortho and two neuros. The ortho didn't think I needed surgery and didn't even feel my pain was disc-related. Both neuro's agreed that I needed surgery and felt I was a good candidate for it. I ended up having the surgery with the second neuro, because he is associated with a large hospital that ranks #14 in the country for their dept of NS. Plus, he specializes in the t-spine, which is different than the cervical or lumbar spine.

    I know you are young and want something more permanent, but surgery should always be a last resort. As I said, part of me regrets having had the surgery, because I was more functional prior to it. It's been 8.5 weeks since my surgery, and I am already facing the possibility of having to have another surgery...not cool.
  • Oh, Kim, that sucks. I am 29 as well, and feel lucky now that I have only the one herniation. I don't have any other issues such as deterioration or anything, just the injury related to my accident, I hope you start feeling better soon!
    Sarah D
  • I too recommend another opinion....I am 33 a little older than you but not by far...I too got hurt at work and ended up Rupturing 2 Cervical Discs and Herniated 1 Lumbar Disc and the one right above that Lumbar one doesn't look to hot(I'm a nurse and got hurt taking care of a patient)...

    Lumbar got put on hold until Cervical was handled...it was causing the most pain since they were Ruptured...causing major arm pain...
    I had 2 level Cervical Surgery and was FEELING FANTASTIC...4 months into recovery the Herniation went from mild to mild-moderate...due to PTing the Neck....so instead of being able to push me through like a "Normal Neckie"

    PT has to be slower since I have Lumbar issues....right now Lumbar is able to be PT'd and no surgery on the table...waiting for Comp to approve Lumbar Injection and PT....stay strong get your second opinion...hand in there...we are here for you to vent....cry....whatever you need to do to make it through....WELCOME!!!!
  • Definitely go for another opinion.
    I also would wonder what options the surgeon would recommend if you say "no thank you" to surgery. Is ESI (epidural steroid injection) or other oral steroid an option to try? What would the surgeon recommend if it were his own wife/child?

    I would also ask the odds of success with each. I would also ask how he would define 'success'. Lots of questions and if possible bring a trusted family member or friend with you to ask questions and/or listen to the answers.

    My personal opinion is more conservative the better. For my revision, I went a little crazy and had 7 opinions (6 in person, 1 remote). It was a strange scenario (original doctor was out of network, the 2nd opinion was in network but was dropping my insurance carrier before I would be able to have the 2nd surgery and then the 3rd opinion gave me something different). Anyhow, I learned a lot from each appointment and the key was to ask a lot of these questions and read a lot on the internet.

    I found success is defined a little differently than the normal person would think. It's marginally better and more.

    I also learned the sucess % rates of my revision MicroD vs. fusion. They were the same. But the risk of failures with fusion seemed higher (in my opinion).

    It's a very personal decision. But keep in mind, once you start messing with the back, it can be a slippery slope. I'm not saying don't have surgery but just understand what each surgery option is. Fusion of the lumbar area is also VERY different than fusion of the cervical area.

    My husband didn't understand why I wasn't so ready to jump into a fusion b/c his cousin had 2 very successful fusiosn in his neck. Then, he realized after reading and speaking to my current surgeon, that they are very different surgeries. The lumbar area carries a lot of the body's weight when sitting & walking.

    Anyhow, take your time...to make sure you are comfortable with the decision and that you won't have any regrets looking back after surgery (if that's what you choose).
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