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Possible alternate for L5S1

slaintesslainte Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All!

I hope that maybe this helps someone who has a herniated L5S1 and the pain in the butt that it is (pun intended). I suffered over the past year with lower back issues. About 4 months ago I thought my back issues where over after seeing a Chiropractor for one month and my back feeling normal for the following two-three months so I started doing heavy exercises and stretching for about 2 weeks until my back pain paid me another visit, this time very upset at me. I went to the doctor and they gave in and said its been a year so lets get you an MRI. I got the results which where a herniated L5S1 disc pressing on my right side nerve. My chiropractor reffered me to a very good Neurosurgeon who recommended a microdiscectomy. After that I did research up on the internet to see what my options were and how what that surgery's success rate is. I got discouraged and was told by a lot of people to skip surgery at all cost's. I found a place on the web called the back institute in bevery hills, Ca. And they had a way to do the same surgery however far less invasive which I was attracted to. Everyone told me I was crazy to go all the way out to California to have this surgery when I live near Boston which has the best doctors in the country. I searched if anyone else did the same type of surgery but couldn't anything. About 7 days ago my pain go extramely worse due to I believe my muscle's seized up, so I was confinned to sleeping on the floor over the next few days, then about 5 days ago the pain was so bad I couldn't sleep, find a position to make the pain subside, and no drug would help the pain subside so I went to the ER and got admitted. There they gave me strong pain med.'s that via IV that helped for about 2 hours, I was scheduled for a microdiscectomy the following morning but canceled it and scheduled my trip out to California to get the surgery done at the back institute. My mother came with me for the trip out, the long plane ride was torture. After we landed we went directly to the back institute where they demanded 20 thousand dollars up front (this wasn't a surprise as they told me this over the phone). They told me my health insurance will cover the 20 thousand dollars but they wouldn;t do anything until they had this money and it had to be a money order or cash. This and the looks of their office seemed extremely shady to my mother and myself. It felt like we were being scammed and appeared that way to. The two doctors there were impressive though and sounded like they knew what they were doing but everything else was to say the least shady. The admin people were Ukraine and rude as all hell, I felt like slapping their admin lady who made me at one point get out of my gurney, get dressed, and go to the bank to get a check cleared right before surgery. The first day they put me to sleep and shot dye in my back and numbed my back/the s1 nerve so I felt no pain for the rest of that day/night which was a nice break. Finally got a full nights sleep. The following day I had the surgery done and was up and walking right after I woke up. I went to my hotel room and slept for the rest of the night. I woke up the next day (which happens to be the day I'm writting this) with no pain, can walk, and except for knowing my back was worked and my right foot being slightly numb it feels like the past month or so was a really bad dream. I'm currently flying home less than 24 hours post op and feel great. The incision on my back only required one stitch and is really small. So far so good :) no need for pain pills yet. So I'm writing this now while its all fresh in my head and so far my only regret is how they (back institute) demands the 20 thousand up front, how up professional they seem, and their office look more like a dentist office than a surgical place of business. This is the day after my surgery so I will keep updating this forum if my pain increases and also if my health insurance does in fact pay me back the 20 thousand just so other people know. If everything goes as planned then I would highly recommened this over a microdiscectomy since they don't have to cut through the bone and it is less invasive. The doctor did scare me and say they might have to shave some of the bone to get their tools to the disc they needed to extract but I asked them afterwards iof they did and they saisd they didn't tough the bone. Anyways I'll keep this updated, sorry its so long winded, sorry for any mis-spelling as I type this from my airplane ride home. Hope this helps someone to decide to go to the back institute or not depending on how things go for me going forward.

Thank you


  • I hope your insurance pays. from what I have heard if this is one of those lazer places your probably on your own. We are not supposed to name names so the mods may edit your post.

    In the very least you will be able to write off on your taxes. The bad thing about being that far away is that there will be no follow up care should you require seeing the surgeon in a few weeks or months if something starts going wrong.

    I hope everything works out well for you and your pain stays away forever. Stay positive.

  • When I first found them, it seemed too good to be true. But I was open to see what they could offer me, so I was driven 3 hours South and had my consults with them.

    It was in some other doctor's office. That seemed really odd to me and I must admit to you, that my spidey-senses were tingling and I just about bailed out right then and there. It was explained to me that they were in the middle of constructing their new facility and were temporarily domiciled in the offices of a colleague. Keep in mind I am hobbling around on crutches or in a wheelchair as I could not walk or stand from the backpain.

    The consult went well and after careful consideration, I went ahead with the surgery.

    The surgery was to take place in a plastic surgeon's office/surgical suite. Again, it seemed crazy, but I looked around the suite and they had everything in order.

    I had the discogram on site in the afternoon, then they sent me to get the CT scan at an imaging facility. When I got back, we went in to the surgery. All went well and I was released at 8pm. I WALKED OUT. Something I had not been able to do in the previous 9 months! It was awesome and wonderful!

    Because I had been fasting since the night before, I was starving and went into the first place I saw: a subway sandwich shop. That seemed like the best sandwich I ever had LOL I was sooooo happy.

    Losing one's mobility is a humbling experience. In the preceeding months I was on crutches, most people held doors open for me or took into consideration my limited ambulation. There is still hope for society; there are still many considerate people out there.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Now, here is my 2nd surgery story.

    I did something really really really stupid one day: I tried to move a very heavy welding machine. BAM! I blew out my L5-S1 disc.

    That was a Wednesday. By Friday I was immobilized and couldn't hardly move. I get on the phone at 4pm and I appeal to the Russian girl that is the office manager. She pulls some strings for me and she schedules me for the following Wednesday.

    On the way down, I'm in the back seat of the car lying down and a relative is driving. CRUNCH! Some other car sideswiped us on the freeway just as we were getting close to the office. it wasn't a big crash, and since the other driver ran away and we had an important consult to make, we kept going.

    The consult went well and we go to the hotel that was recommended to us. The hotel is across the street from the office and just up aways. We arrive and the fire alarm is going off. The elevators are shut down. But there is no fire. Some malfunction happened. I can't get up to the room because I'm in a wheelchair. After waiting an hour and being told the elevator technicians would be there in 4 hours, they send us to another hotel on Wilshire.

    It's a fancy schmancy Beverly Hills Hollywood hotel. We pull in and begin to get me in the wheelchair and checked in. The wheelchair's front left wheel breaks. The bellman had to pull me backwards the whole time. LOL

    Suddenly a limo pulls up behind us and I am just about trampled by paparazzi flashing their cameras. They were trying to get pictures of Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon who were in the limo and also checking in.

    Anyways, we check in and are in our 7th floor room.... right next to the elevator. We ask for room service and they send a $7 dollar bottle of Perrier water and a $25 dollar Kobe beef hamburger among other things. Kaching! Wow, pricey!.I gotta say however, that was probably the most tasty burger I have ever had!

    Later it's bedtime and I can't get to sleep because every time the elevator stops at our floor... CLACK!!!! The sound transmitted thru the floor and walls. We asked to get moved and we get moved to another room further away. Same story: CLACK!!!!! Uggh.. no sleep.

    So the next day, everything goes well and the surgery was successful and I was pain-free and able to walk again. I love L.A. but my relative now hates it. LOL It was a helluva experience.

    The surgeons have a great technique with unique instrumentation and I would recommend them highly to anyone.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I had both my surgeries at the same place. Both successful, I am happy, and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

    The financials were explained to me before I went and accordingly, I got it all squared away. There were no problems and check-in went smooth.

    The Russian girl that is the office manager was of great help to me when I needed it the most. She was cordial and nice.
    There was another Russian girl at the front desk that was one of the prettiest girls I had ever seen, but that's not pertinent LOL.

    I'm glad you found them and that you are now pain-free. Your job now is to protect the disc.

    I'm going to type my stories in the next posts.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • can you pm the information for this facility please??? thank you!
  • hello, i am new to this forum. i have DDD of L4/L5 and L5/S1, with severe sciatica. i am under the worlds most useless neurologist who is refusing to fix me. here is my story.

  • If your neuro sucks and he cant do nothing for you then get another opinion from another dr who is for sure a neuro who deals in spine issues, Not all neuro deal with spine related issues, You have to be sure they are spine specialists such as spine neuro surgen or spine ortho surgen,

    If you are not happy with who is treating you then you find another who can explain if surgery is realy the best option or not, Ddd alone is not always something that needs surgery, Unless the ddd is so severe where the disc is totaly gone and fusion has to be done,

    Spine is so complicated even dr,s have a problem knowing what the best option is many times, Working with pain specialist and spine specialist helps find the best solution to the cause of pain and best treatment,

    Best of luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • hi all!

    Funny story Paul, crazy! your first visit was a lot like mine was. I didn't have the same experience with the ukraine girls, one was nice and pretty but the other was a brutal. Its almost two weeks postop and i have mild pain down my right leg, very mild and relly only if i press into my calf or hamstring. mt right toe is still a bit numb/tingles. Hopefully the pain stays away :) if so I'm glad I went for the less invasive procedure however looks like I may be stuck with paying most of that 20k out of pocket which stinks. health insurance is useless these days. I'll keep updating this post. oh ya my "scar" currently looks like a small pimple which is cool, never relly cared about the scar as much as the bone though...
  • I know Dr. D. and the surgical team go to St. Petersburg every so often to perform the surgeries. I'm guessing that's the connection. I was offered the option of going over there and paying $7K less. I chickened out and stayed close to home.

    My brother's neighbor went to St. Pete and said it was totally fine and would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Was Dr. L------i still there assisting?

    Irena was really nice to me and was there at work every time I visited. It seemed like all the other girls were just passing thru as I don't recall seeing them regularly.

    There is no visible scar on me from my surgeries. It's like, cool, but I don't have something to brag about and show off to say "oooh look at that back surgery scar!" LOL

    Were you prescribed aquatic physical therapy?

    I'm confident your pain situation will improve. It took a good 6 months for my situation to get totally resolved. The money you spent is WELL worth it. Don't even give it a second thought. You are money ahead in addition to the collateral damage you avoided.

    Please protect that disc and you'll be rewarded with less and less pain. Glad you're doing better and glad you chimed in.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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