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Thorasic X-lif Surgery

RobeeRRobee Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
m: Hi my name is Robin. Is there anyone out there who has had a surgery called "Thorasic x-lif" This is where they go though the front, deflate
the lung, insert a chest tube, break a couple of ribs and replace the disks. If anyone is out there who has experienced this, I would love to hear from you. I am
going to have this surgery and really could use someone to talk to about it. I am scared to death!!
Please if your out there I could really use a friend right now.
Regards, Robin


  • Welcome to Spine Health! I have not had this surgery, nor do I know much about it, but I just wanted to say that I understand your anxiety. I had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) done almost a year ago and I had so many questions. I hope that someone on this forum can provide some support! Good luck! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Robin,

    My name is Angela and i'm normally lurking around here and not posting but thought that I would. Short story I had a very large herniation (9x12mm) at T11-T12 and the first surgeon in March 2011 went in from the back and "assumed" he removed it but actually didn't. After 6 months of continued pain I went to another doctor who did another MRI and saw it was still exactly the same. So the 2nd surgery was in November 15th and they did a T12 corpectomy and he went in through the side and the back (had to go in through the back to remove the last dr's hardware)and the side in order to remove the vertebra and his hardware.

    I had a thoracic surgeon who my spinal surgeon uses to get him to the spine. I thought this was good because I like when a doctor doesn't think he's a specialist in every field. Luckily because mine was so low they were able to stay out of the ribs since it's right at the bottom. They did deflate my lung and I had the chest tube which is really no big deal at all. Even when they remove it they normally use such a small one they just pull it out and put a bandage on it. I was in the hospital for 4 days including the surgery day. Recovery was rough the first 3 weeks, it's difficult because they cut the diaphragm and I had to wear a TSLO brace afterwards which isn't comfy to begin with. It's going to be hard to get around and even rolling over will seem like climbing Mt. Everest.

    The best thing I can say is to get prepared at home before, there are a lot of posts about things to have. This time I bought a shower seat and a sprayer as well as handles so if I got tired or just wanted to sit with the water on my back due to spasms I could. I upgraded my walker to one of those ones with real tires because I didn't like the old hospital one from the first time but that was just me! Also the best investment I can say...BOTTOM BUDDY--look it up on amazon it may seem embarrassing but after back surgery you will have a different perspective of embarrassing.

    I can't tell you about the recovery because everyone is different, mine is different as well because of the prior botched surgery and the severe spinal compression that went untreated. I'm still at home and still on pain meds and there is very little bone growth at my last f/up apt. My doctor said 3 months home from the very beginning and i'm beginning to be afraid I won't be back to work in 3 weeks which is the time frame. That will be 13 days shy of my initial injury.

    It's going to be painful there's no doubt about it, it's inconvenient and frustrating. Get a laptop, a kindle, or books something to keep you busy and remember no matter what WALKING HELPS! When you are laying there in pain and muscle spasms you might think that you is the last thing you want to do but it really does help....

    It can be hard because thoracic surgery's are more rare than the other's so sometimes getting information can be difficult.

    I know the post is probably long but feel free to contact me direct if you want someone to talk to. I had the experience of having surgery 4 days after finding out I needed to have it to waiting 1 month and stressing and the worst part was I knew what to expect that time since it was my second one. If you need it then you need it, make sure you need it and know that if it's done right you will be so much better off than you are now.

  • Hi Angela,
    Let me begin by saying "Thank you" for responding to my letter. I really was beginning to think that I was one of the only ones out there with Thorasic disk problems. It sounds like your on your way to recovery and that you have been through so much!, As u stated earlier, every day is one day closer to less pain and feeling better.

    The long story short version is my back problem started in January 2011. I literally have tied every non sugical method and have seen several doctors. My last option is this surgery. I have T-6, 7 and 8 that need to be replaced, caged, and fused. The doctor told me he will most likely have to break 2 ribs, and deflate the lung and insert the chest tube. I definetly understand when the doctors say patients with "Thorasic" problem are less than 1% of back issues. In fact the docor who is going to be doing the surgery( has a excellent reputation for his work) was very honest and said he has only done 15 Thorasic X-lifs. He also said trying to find more doctors to have preformed this surgery more than 25 times would be very challanging. I do agree with him after doing my research.I have heard nothing but the best about my doctor so I do trust him, just scared to death of the recovery prossess.

    Sometimes when my pain is really bad, and I start thining abour surgery. I get very anxious because I cant sometimes amagine how the pain could be worse. I keep trying to keep a positive attitude and keep telling myself that at least when surgery is over and I am home in pain I need to keep telling myself, its only going to get better from here on out.

    I even had two seperate doctors tell me that would only perform this surgery if someone was in a terrible accident or there was alot of cancer in the back. I am going to be 53 in March and cant live in this pain for the next 40 years.

    Again, Thank you again for taking the time to write me, I would love to keep in touch (if your okay with that).

    I do have some questions for you and I do hope I can be a support to you and your recovery as well. My Doc told me 4 months in a brace as well so our surgeries sound very similiar.

    Look forward to hearing from you! Feel better!
  • Hi Angela,

    I forget to thank you for that very importand piece of info about the Bottom Buddy. Trust me I thought about all that and was not sure what I was going to do, if I am home sometime by myself.
    So thank you :)
    Your recommendations are very much appreciated!
  • As a thoracic sufferer for 8 years I know the pain it brings. I had some good luck after 5 ESI, but also I was pain free in morning after waking which was very encouraging.
    I have heard of XLIF and I know the muscle damage is reduced. Just out of curiosity are the disc's herniated, torn, etc. If it is herniations, I am scheduled for TMED thoracic min. invasive endoscopic disectomy. 4-6 week healing time and doctor says he has done very many and he is internationally respected doctor who is regarded as one of the best. I can give name if you want just PM me. He also does the more invasive thoracic surguries also, and does say he would do XLIF if the disc was calcified. If possible I would like to start with min. invasive and work towards bigger surgury if that does not work, situation/options may be different for you.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • I want to begin by saying, I know your pain and wish you are the best in whatever method you try for pain releif. Thank you for your comments. I have tried every non surgical method hoping to releive the pain but doctors say because the disks are piching the spinal cord, it can only be fixed sugically.
    Thank you again for writing, feel good!
  • Robee, I understand it has to be done surgically but does the surgury have to be a fusion first? That is all I am wondering about.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • Robee, I understand it has to be done surgically but does the surgury have to be a fusion first? That is all I am wondering about.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • I think once you try everything its the next option. I surely didn't want one but no choice. It sounds that it might need to be done if your doctor says so. Once its messing with the cord you need to do what you can you don't want to b disabled. Ensure that he's a good doctor! ! My first one thought he was....nurses didn't say anything....room full of people at office...seemed on point. Most Dr's I've talked to felt going thru the side best route some doctors still try to go posteriourly and then they miss things like mine did.

    Fusion sounds appropriate especially with 3 level to increase stability. Its not like a lumbar fusion and every doctor I've been to says that there aren't long term side affects or restrictions when its in the thoracic.

    I think its good your doctor is being honest with you....
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