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

T8 Disc

aniaani Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hi everyone, thanks for a great site with lots of good info. I have been reading the posts on this site for a couple of months and this is my first post. Well, I have been suffering from a T8-T9 Disc protrusion for about 2.5-3 years now. MRI scans show "A huge disc protrusion at T8-T9 centrally and to the right with marked flattening and deformity of the cord". I am in constant excruciating pain. Any movement, bending forward causes a lot of pain. I do have the pain radiating to my ribs left and right. It does also radiate up to my neck and causes massive headaches. I also have had it radiate to the low back and sometimes down to my legs, either left/right or sometimes both. Taking Deep breathes aggravates it. The radiation pattern and referred pain does change constantly. Some days are better than others. I also have difficulty sleeping due to pain.

Over the years I have tried everything (PT, massage, chiro, acupuncture, etc.) and did not have any measurable relief from the pain. I have been to 4-5 NS now, they all have told me to try everything and hold off surgery as much as possible. They all discussed a posterior approach as far as surgery. The only relief I had is from a recent steroid shot that gave me somewhat of a relief for only a month.

Well, recently the pain has been getting worse and more constant. I am at the point that can't handle it anymore and have thought about surgery. I need to do have this done as soon as possible as I can't handle the pain anymore.

I would appreciate any responses as far as anyone that had a similar condition/surgery and post operation experiences/results. What is the best surgical approach? I am also looking for the best NS that specializes in Thoracic surgeries. As you know finding a surgeon that has done a lot of Thoracic spine disc surgeries is difficult. I know we can't post any Doctor's info on this site. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions, you can PM me any names. I am looking for someone in San Diego region, however would go anywhere if the Surgeon is highly recommended and has a lot of experience on Thoracic spine surgeries with good results.

I am very nervous about having the surgery and know it is very involved. However, I am a point that I can't handle the pain any more. It effects every aspect of my life. I would greatly appreciate any responses. Thank you.


  • I am probably having the thoracic fusion surgery this winter (hoping for December). Trying to decide which option #a- XLIF or #b Transthoracic approach discectomy with fusion & hardware. Both NS offered a single level T7/8.

    I have multiple thoracic disc herniations from T4- T12 with 2 pretty bad ones (t7/8 is the worst and thought to be contributing to most of my pain).

    I take extended release meds with break through meds and muscle relaxer daily.I also use the lidoderm patches, and a tens unit.

    My pain is much worse when I have any activity but is constant non the less. I have radiating pain in the center of my upper back and it reaches under my arms and into my abdomen. I have frequent nausea, and the left leg goes numb or burns-to sharp pain- to intense itching. My feet have some numbness and some pain at times.

    I am still working, but not very good. I am lucky that I work from a home office, but have some big responsibility and need to drive quite often. I try to plan my drive days around my good days and pain medication schedule.

  • Like Julie, I also have multiple thoracic herniations from T5 to T11. I had T8-9 and T9-10 operated on this past July. I had the posterior approach as well, since they were just doing a discectomy. I will say that the pain I had prior to the surgery (mid-back pain that radiated to the right, around my ribcage, and to the front) is about 95% better. However, two weeks into my recovery, I developed similar pain on the left side. It feels like the same type of pain, except it is much more intense. In fact, it feels like I'm being stabbed with a searing hot knife at times. I am more debilitated now, because I cannot stand/walk for more than 5-10 minutes without this horrific pain setting in.

    Now it looks like I may need to have another surgery in early 2012. I am getting a couple more opinions to see what they think, plus I need to have another MRI and possibly another CT myelogram to try to pinpoint which disc. The NS who did my previous surgery is recommending another discectomy (done posteriorly), as long as we can pinpoint which disc. The problem is that if I continue to have this pain, even after the next surgery, we may be looking at a fusion from T5-11. Yeah...I think I'd rather not. I'm praying we can find which disc it is and that this operation is successful.

    I go back to my NS on 12/6, after I've had the MRI and have seen these two other NS. Being that it's so close to Christmas, I figure it's best to wait until after the Holidays to do anything. However, I just started a new job on August 8th, and I need to have 6 months of full-time employment before I am eligible for short-term disability. So I'm going to try to hold out until February, which will be 6 months. The thought of waiting another 4+ months is absolutely nerve-wracking. However, I know I cannot rush into anything. I really need to get these other opinions and make a decision from there. Plus, we need to see what this next MRI says.
  • Hi Julie, thanks for you post and info. I have been following your other posts and hope everything goes well. You are in my prays. I did have an appt with a Orthopedic Surgeon that I have seen before, however I was very disappointed by their lack of organization and felt very rushed throughout the appt. Anyhow, he didn't really answer my questions as far as differences between XLIF and Transthoracic. I have read some info on them, but what is the difference between the two?

    I know that NS are much more preferred for a Thoracic surgery, however this guy came highly recommended and thought I would give him a try. I am going to see a NS later on. We will see how that goes.

    It is really hard finding a NS that has done a lot of Thoracic discs.
  • Hi Kim, that is exactly what I am afraid of. I am worried that after surgery I will be worse off with having pains at different regions. It seems like that does happen often with such an involved surgery as a Thoracic disc surgery. I am in constant excruciating pain all the time, but still wounder what if I will be worse after surgery. None of the surgeons with any certainty have told me that I will be out of pain after surgery. I really hope they find and can pinpoint the source of your pains to one level. Please keep us posted.

  • I have been asking a lot of questions trying to decide my Thoracic Fusion. We are leaning very strongly to the transthoracic approach.

    Overall it has a higher success rate- there is simply a lot more information that we already know with the Transthoracic.

    The XLIF seems very promissing. I like the idea of it being minimally invasive (but when you are down to the nuts & bolts of it- it isn't that much less invasive). They both remove the entire disc. Both use a similar bone wafe/spacer for fussion.

    I am not interested in having a fusion that has a low success rate. I would rather have a more difficult but optimal/perfect fusion with the hardware- I have instabilty issuesp. I want that sh&t locked down. I don't want to find out 3 months into that the wafer shifted and is now causing problems. Since I have so many damaged discs, I figured I would quickly have new issues.

    Julie- soon to be named the BIONIC Julie.
  • Surgery through the chest cavity isn't fun and removal of a rib can leave you very sore for quite a while, but there is an upside. Rib bone, especially your own rib bone, is very very good for fusing your vertabtrae(lots of blood vessels apparently).So no need to go chopping at your hip bone!

    My thoracic spine fused so quick using rib bone and, because the thoracic spine is so much more stable than the rest of the spine, my surgeon said it is not necessary to add hardware.

    Every cloud has a silver lining!

    Best of luck to everyone about to undergo this surgery. I'm very glad I had mine done, but I'm equally glad I don't have to go through it all again (fingers crossed)

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • Hi Mick,

    It is very nice to hear about good results after a thoracic surgery. So, did you have yours done in 2003 through anterior approach? How long was your recovery? Any complications? I am very concerned about having a fusion done due to loss of range of motion later on and excess pressure on the discs above and below. They do tell me that Thoracic region is much more stable because of the ribs and that it wouldn't as prone to common problems with a fusion on Lumbar or Cervical spine. Is this a correct?

    How is your range of motion and overall how do you feel now, as far as doing everyday activities and just being active (exercises, etc.)

    I agree with Julie, I much rather have this done correctly than a less invasive approach. I do not want this to come back and have to go through another surgery.

    All I can say is that I am very confused, worried, and nervous about having the surgery. The pain and discomfort is getting worse, but at the same time I don't want to be worse off after the surgery with some other complications or change in pain. Very confused on what to do!! I am seeing another NS today that I saw 3-4months ago. We'll see what he has to say. Frankly, I am very disappointed by the Doctors I have seen so far by their lack of concern and communication regarding the surgery.

  • Ani,

    Please let us know how it goes with the other surgeon.

  • Ani,
    yes I had the anterior approach. At first glance it doesn't seem logical to operate on the spine through the chest, but, as I understand it, it is easier for the surgeon to see all the stuff he wants to avoid, arteries, cord etc. So for my money I was happy to put up with the extra discomfort if it helped the surgeon to do a good job.

    These days with so much open heart surgery taking place there isn't the risk there used to be opening the chest cavity. This part of the surgery is done by a specialist "chest team".

    I was unlucky to contract MRSA in the chest drain wound (chest drain drains fluid away from deflated lung). This was quite common in 2003. These days medical staff are much more aware and lots of precautions are taken before, during and after surgery to avoid MRSA etc.

    Luckily they managed to control the infection before too much damage was done, but it made the recovery longer and more unpleasant than it should have been.

    I had long term neurological deficits prior to surgery and I had to go to a neuro rehab unit for 6 weeks for some specialist physiotherapy to learn to walk properly again.

    In all I was in hospital for 16 weeks and 2 days, but this was exeptional and I think it illustrates how each case is different. Being in hospital so long is horrible but however keen you are to get home, be guided by the doctors. Sometimes hospital is the right place to be regardless of how unpleasant and boring it is.

    Touch wood this is the end of it for me, but I am aware that spinal problems have a reputation of coming back. So far so good.

    I still have some tightness under the arm, where muscle was cut through and I can't lift my arm very high and I still struggle a bit getting on and off my bike and clambering over rocks and fences, but I am 99 percent OK and PAIN FREE! so I have no complaints.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • Hi Ani
    I am 10 weeks down the line after having a my T8-9 removed. The NS went in through the chest, removed the rib, moved the heart and collapsed the lung.
    I had this surgery twice within ten days as the first op wasnt successful.
    Initially I had no left leg use but I am now walking and back to work (albeit slowly!)
    I have another thread if you want to read up.
    Hope you feel better, there is light at the end of the tunnel I promise
  • Hi Everyone,

    Hope all is well with all of you and thanks for your prays and feedback. I am very sorry for not updating my thread, I have been in a lot of pain and had a difficult time working and managing daily life. My symptoms are getting worse. I have seen several surgeons since my last thread. Both Ortho and Neuro Surgeons. It seems like the Neuro surgeons approach is from the back (posterior) through the Lamina and most Ortho surgeons want to do a Lateral approach. I have read through my research that the worse approach is posteriorly through lamina due to possible spine instability later on and also Spinal Cord aggravation during surgery causing paralysis. Is that a correct assumption?

    I recently saw a Neuro surgeon at Ciders-Sinai in LA, who seems like has done the most Thoracic Disc surgeries compared to other surgeons I have seen. He also has been the most confident. I don't know if I can post his name due to the forum rules. If so I would love to know if anyone knows him and if they have had a surgery with him.

    His approach is posterio-lateral translamina and transpedicular right behind the Vertebra with a small incision, opening a window through a partial removal of the lamina and the pedicle. My T8-9 Disc is protruded to the right so he said would have access this way. Is this correct?? Very confused. But, at the same time my pain has gotten worse. So bad that I need to do something about this very soon.

    Another Neuro surgeon at Scripps in San Diego wants to do a costoversectomy by removing a part of a rib. Which is another option.

    I appreciate any input.

    Thank you Caroline for your encouraging words! I really appreciate it as these are trying times.

  • Just out of curiosity is it Dr. J.J.R ? If so PM me and we can discuss some things as I was to have surgury with him years ago. Ins. canceled it but there are some scary things about him.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • I had this same surgery this past July, on T8-T10. Both of mine were protruding to the right as well. I have an incision along side of my spine. Recovery time is much easier, because it does not involve removal of a rib or deflating the lung. I had a lot of post-op pain and spent a little longer in the hospital than expected. I also believe that due to the pain I overcompensated, which led to issues with discs (they were already herniated, even prior to the surgery) on the other side. I dealt with left-sided pain, similar to the pain I had on the right side prior to the surgery, for about 3 months after the surgery. Unfortunately I still have herniations on every level from T5-T11, but at this point there is nothing more that can be done. The pain I had prior to the surgery is much bette Plus, I was recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, so it is believed that my spinal issues stem from that. However, one thing I can say with certainty is that the pain I had prior to my surgery is about 95% better. So in that respect, the surgery was absoluely worth it.

    In summary, I would recommend going with the least invasive approach possible.

  • Have you tried Epidural Steroid Injections on your spine?
    I ask because I have seen a neurosurgeon this week who showed me that I now have two thoracic discs compressing my cord and nerve roots. He said he wasn't recommending surgery (he did recommend surgery for my neck) but that we could try ESIs to see if they would help the tightening pain and spasms that I get around my abdomen. I am not at the stage of needing to try this yet, but it is nice to know that there is another option to try other than surgery.

  • Hi, do you have some MRi spine images you could post here?
Sign In or Register to comment.