I am an active, 46 y/o female and into hiking, climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, mtn biking, snowboarding, etc. I have 5 herniated discs in the thoracic area of my spine and 2 in my neck after getting plowed into by a drunk driver on my way to the gym at 6am on a Saturday morning. The neck herniations are not problematic currently.
Thoracic discs T6/7 and T7/8 are in contact with my spinal cord and causing cord signal interruption, and discs T8/9, T9/10, T10/11 are all deforming the spinal cord significantly. I currently have intermintent numbness of my left foot and a pulsating electrical buzzing in my right leg. I am also beginning to experience some degradation of urinary functions as well from the spinal cord damage. Over the past 2 months I have seen 5 neurosurgeons and 1 orthopedic surgeon and have decided to work with EDITED in Phoenix. My pain although constant, is manageable.
I had hoped to have endoscopic spine surgery with Dr. EDITED to fix, fuse and brace these discs, but due to the sheer number of discs involved and the position of the herniations, an open thoracotomy is strongly recommended instead.
I am supposed to have the thoracotomy on April 5th. I am really concerned about the post-surgery quality of life issues that my research shows many, many people have had. Are there any other members out there that have had successful, positive outcomes after a thoracotomy? I considered doing nothing at all, but all 6 surgeons said I will undoubtedly progress to eventual paralysis, if I don't self-paralyze from a sudden impact or sharp movement before then.
I've even asked the surgeon to consider 2 endoscopic surgeries, but I have been told that is problematic due to the location of the other lower three discs. I am trying to decide whether I should do the thoracotomy or if I should just have the top two discs that are currently touching the spinal cord fixed endoscopically do nothing to the other three, and take my chances. I am being advised not to do so.
I have read about post-thoracotomy patients who developed post chronic pain syndrome were miserable and were on heavy meds like morphine and oxycontin 5 years post surgery. Many of these patients also had very limited mobility in the incision side of the body as well as diaphragm and pulmonary issues for years after. I am almost wondering if being paralyzed is better or worse than living a life of chronic pain and other complications from the surgery itself.
I also had bilateral breast cancer at 29. I have had 14 surgeries related to the double mastectomies and reconstructive procedures including skin grafts, and alloderm tissue grafts. I've never hesitated or batted an eye at going through any of those surgeries, but this one has me a spooked.
Any feedback on the procedure, facility or physician, or stories of your personal experience with a thoracotomy and recovery would be greatly appreciated.
Post edited to remove name of medical professional and or facility. by Authority Member Liz