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L5S1 Fusion or Microdistectomy?

TDD14150TTDD14150 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi I am a 27 year old male living with consistent pain for approximately 1 year. I have been through PT and was removed roughly 4 weeks ago under the terms that it wasn't helping my conditon improve. The disc is basically crushed and pushed out on both the left and right side of my spine. It causes consistent pain in my central lower back and both legs. The leg pain stops at my knee in the left leg but continues down the right leg through my toes and often causes painful tingling and numbness in my right calf, foot, ankle and foot. At this point I am convinced that I need to have a surgery but I am still unsure of which to choose.I have seen one surgeon who told me that the disc herniation is 'impressive' and that in his opinion I need a single level fusion, rather than the less invasive procedure of a microdistectomy. I am awaiting a second and possibly third opinion from surgeons but in the mean time have scheduled the fusion surgery for mid June. Has anyone been in my shoes and had to make this decision, if so any recommendations? I'm also looking for some honest feedback on post op recovery and what to expect in the short and long term.


  • Hello... well 1 year is long enough to suffer..I would say if ur symtoms have do not appear to be getting better than u may have to go that route.. If money is not a issue i would try the laser surgery. it cost like 20k but hell if u can swing it its worth it.. I went to a seminar and it would be about 18k for me and they would let me pay 1k a month.. I went to the seminar after 1 nuero said level fusion and 2 other neuros said live with it for now.. LSI believe it or not said "Hey we can help you and for 20k we can do this, however YOU should wait till your systems are worse".. I was surprised they would say that.. I have had mild to moderate leg/lower back pain for about 1 year.. its pretty constaint but i can get comfortable to sleep .. I do indoor bike and eliptical but thats all i can do .. i dont lift weights and i act like a 60yo man though i am 38.. If i am not better by next year where i can atleast be pain free i will do the laser.. I cannot imagine WHY ITS SO HARD TO FIND INFO ABOUT LASER surgery on this site or anywhere? I guess cause most people do not want to pay the 20k out of pocket, plus i am sure its not as perfect surgery as they say..

    A firend of mine had laser decompression on his neck and said it helped about 80%. My father had it on his lower back for decompression for a dropped leg and he said it helpped.. Everyone i know personally said it HELPED, but thats it!

    I wish i can give u more info, but no one has replyed so i figure 1 reply is better than none:o)..Hang strong!
  • I think it is hard to give a response as, at the end of the day, it is your decision. I would certainly wait for the second opinion at least.

    In my case my original surgeon told me that my disc was bad and so a micro d would end up turning into a fusion later down the line and, in his opinion, it would be better to do the fusion straight off to minimise scar tissue.

    I did do the fusion but have since developed problems at the facet joints the next level up. I am not sure if that was inevitable or not. Having seen different surgeons (due to infection issues)since I wish I had seen more than one before going for it. Even if I had ended up doing the same thing.

    Fusion recovery certainly isn't a picnic. I wish I had done a load of core exercises pre op, I struggled with pain in my abs post op due to them having to work so much harder than normal!

    I wish you luck whatever your decision.
  • TDD14150TTDD14150 Posts: 5
    edited 07/02/2012 - 4:37 AM
    Surgery was 2 weeks and 3 days ago and already beginning to feel better. Although I am continuing with pain medication and muscle relaxers from time to time, the sciatic pain that was at times crippling is completely non existent! My pain is very well controlled and two days ago I began taking short walks up and down my block. At this point I have been given very little instructions by my doctor for what I should be doing other than resting and wearing my brace, but I have been instructed not to bend, twist, reach, or lift anything over 5 lbs. My first follow up visit is still three weeks away. Anyone who went through this surgery willing to share their experiences at this stage of recovery? I read on another post that walking supplies blood and much needed nutrients to support the fusion process, but without explicit instruction from the doc I'm constantly questioning if I am in fact walking, sitting, or even lying down too much or too little for ideal healing conditions.
  • Hi, and congrats on what seems to be a positive/successful surgery.
    I think several small walks is good. Be sure the surface is flat and don't go for speed.
    The walking keeps scar tissue off the nerve. I would say 3-5 walks that are 10 min throughout the day (plus, it will keep you regular from a digestive aspect). You can always call your doctor's office to verify...don't feel like you can't talk to them. They can answer a lot of questions via phone.

    As for sitting...keep that to meals or quick visits from friends. I think that's the one thing that isn't good for you to do too much of. I kept mine for meals 3x/day and maybe another 10 min just for if people visited. However, I didn't have a fusion.

    Good luck!
  • What type of surgery did you have? Did sitting cause you pain? I don't have additional pain from sitting but I do try to recline more often then sitting up straight. I didn't know that walking helps alleviate scar tissue thanks for that info!
  • Thankfully my surgeon was conservative.. I too had a very impressive hunk of disc removed from the same spot. He told me we would start with the microdiscetomy first.. period.
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