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Saw the surgeon OMG

omabluebirdoomabluebird Posts: 36
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a follow up appointment with my spine (orthopedic) surgeon yesterday. To say the least I am stunned. He wants to do a complete lumbar fusion. If I understood right (and I just realized I will have to clarify this) he would fuse L1/L2-L4/5 and stabilize with rods and screws. I have severe disc degeneration and basically the centeral canal space at L4/L5 is almost completely closed. I could clearly see it on the MRI. I also have some scoliosis and level 1 spondylolisthesis at L4/L5
I went to the appointment ready to schedule surgery, and I knew it would be a multilevel surgery but I was stunned that it will be so extensive. At his suggestion I will make an appointment with a scoliosis surgeon in his group. Tomorrow I have an appointment with my PCP and plan to get other opinions. Because I live in a rural area, I am half way between two small cities with medical centers, so all of these appointments involve an hours long drive.

The surgeon says he does these types of surgeries regularly including on people older than I am (70) and has really new state of the art equipment. He would do the surgery himself although he says there would be lots of people in the room helping. It would be an 8 hour surgery.

I really don't want to hear any negative comments about this surgery but I would love to hear from anybody who has had such an extensive fusion especially people over 60. Thanks



  • being such a huge surgery that I would get another opinion from a neurosurgeon. You stated your surgeon does this big of a surgery all the time. I hate to say it, but a fusion that big is not done very often. I know you don't want any negative feedback and I'm sorry I sound this way, but I would at least get another opinion at least. I've been through just about that much with my fusion at 50 years old and it takes a lot out of you. I know everyone handles surgeries differently, but i am in good shape physically and mentally and it kicked my butt! Being that your entire lumbar will be fused puts a lot of stress on your SI joints too. I had to have both SI joints fused within a year and a half following my four level fusion. Did your surgeon mention that to you? Is this going to be a 360 fusion where they go in from the front and the back? You are facing a huge surgery and a huge recovery. I had problems not fusing at L5-S1 and had a major bleeding problem as they inadvertently cut a major blood vessel during surgery. I'm sorry if I sound negative, but I just want you to know you're facing a huge surgery at 60 and I would even get another opinion. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope the very best for you. God Bless, Kevin
  • I would see if any other dr would go with a less invasive aproach,

    The most serious is to open up the canal at the level where its real bad and posibly manage with that before going for the whole fusion deal,

    Get a few opinions on your best options before going for such huge surgery that can either make you or break you,

    1 level arrificial disc replacement and then fusion at same level broke me and i am 51 and was always in good health and good shape before this surgery,

    The least invasive the procedure the beter, and if a smaller procedure can help to manage dailey acrivity even if its not a 100% might still be a beter option then a major surgery with whatever complicarions might come out of it,

    Dr,s will have diferent opinions in most cases so i would get more then1 opinion for sure and go with the least invasive dr,

    Best of luck and keep us informed how things work out for ya,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I asked for a received (in writing) a clarification of what the surgeon would do. It is not disc degeneration at all, but strictly the facet hypertrophy that is causing my problem. Basically my problem is stenosis of the central canal and the nerve root exits. This misunderstanding was mine as I thought that was the case and didn't understand what he was saying since I probably listened with my mind made up.

    I believe that he wants to stabilize the whole lumbar spine above the major problem at L4/L5 to prevent future problems.

    My PCP told me today that he thinks the only second opinion I should get is with the scoliosis specialist and that what he would likely do is fuse L5/S1 at the same time. He says that within our state the clinic where I am going is the best their is and he does not believe any second opinion would be more valuable than my surgeon or the scoliosis doctor who is at the same clinic. Unfortunately I cannot see the scoliosis specialist until June 22.

    Kevin thanks for sharing your experience. You make me think it would be better to have the scoliosis specialist go ahead and do the whole thing.

    Yes I have a concept about how hard it would be to recover from this lengthy surgery. I am not a spring chicken, although I still think I am. He plans to do it all from the back. He says he has equipment which is less than 5 years old to help him see the nerves. He also wants a myelogram (Yuk).

    I seem to be feeling more deterioration in my leg strength the last 2 days. I just want to get this fixed so I can get some sleep and be able to sit for more than 15 minutes. I went and looked at temper pudic adjustable beds today. I am sold....just need to come up with the $$$.
  • for you, well not really happy,but relieved that it isn't your entire lumbar section. I know one and two levels are don't very often and I had 4 levels fused it was very rare. Anyway, I hope all goes well with your recovery and please keep in touch with us and let us know how everything goes for you. We're all with you on this. my best, Kevin

    P.S. After my first surgery, my wife and I also bought a temperpedic mattress and it has been the best experience for my back!!! You will love it!!
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