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Just when you think that it can't get any worse

quicksilverqquicksilver Posts: 126
edited 07/13/2012 - 10:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I visited my surgeon this morning and it wasn't a good thing. I had the usual PA and Lateral lumbar x-ray and went to the exam room. A couple of minutes later the x-ray tech asked me to come back for another set of pictures. This time he had me do a lumbar flexion and extension. The flexion was no problem but the extension just about killed me. That was not a good sign.

The doc came in a couple of minutes later and explained the situation. All of the x-rays and the post-op MRI showed good and stable alignment of the hardware. However, the last study (a CT done just last week) had a different tale to tell. After just over a year from hell the doc told me that therre was absolutely no sign of fusion (L5S1). He gave me just two alternatives from which to choose. The first option is to use the services of a pain clinic and see if suboxone can provide any relief. The second choice, and the one he recommended, was to undergo a redo PLIF sometime soon.

I have already learned (much to my dismay) that opiates provide only a minimal amount of relief. In fact, right after my PLIF my pain was simply beyond comprehension. Absolutely nothing provided even the tiniest bit of relief. Nothing. Simply going with a stronger opiate now doesn't sound all that smart to me.

That leaves me with door number two, a full scale PLIF. The one I had last year was a minimally invasive procedure and as I said, it was massively painful. As I come to terms with this news I thought that I would ask if anyone of you have had this kind of outcome from your first procedure. If so, did a second surgery provide you with any relief?

Frankly, these two choices realistically leave me with only the choice between really bad pain and really, really bad pain.
Disability retirement


  • Hi quicksilver,

    Sorry to hear the unfortunate news. Best of luck!
  • Hi..i am recovering right now from revsion of an S1-L5 due to a lack of fusion. When my doc did the procedure he removed the two original screws at S1 and said there had been fluid built up behind each one and that it was the fluid more than the pseudoarthrosis that was causing the pain. I am barely 8 days post-op today and I can tell you that although I am of course having a great deal of post-op pain, the symptoms that sent me back into surgery last week are practically gone already. I can walk without the burning. electroshock type nerve pain I used to get in my back, my right sided leg weakness has improved and my urinary retention is totally gone.
  • Moeck, your story has done much to give me some badly needed reassurance. Truly I hope that you continue to heal and find meaningful relief from your pain.

    Disability retirement
  • I have had two fusions already this year. After my second fusion, just two weeks ago I was told I have another herniated disc below my current fusions. I am constantly wondering if I am going to have another fusion. I am sorry to hear about your situation, I hope everything works out in your favor.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • quicksilverqquicksilver Posts: 126
    edited 07/17/2012 - 12:38 PM
    I now have my revision scheduled for August 14. That's just a month away. Now I've learned that I need a root canal! Yummy.
    Disability retirement
  • Good luck with your redo!

    I also had a failed PLIF with an infection and now successful refusion (ALIF and PLIF). My doc told me that when a fusion fails he does everything for the redo that is shown to work. For me this meant ALIF and posterior hardware (360) own bone instead of artificial bone, rigid brace for 3 months, no PT for a year.
  • Today I went in for my pre-op physical. My surgery is scheduled for Aug 14. Everything went well until the nurse asked me about getting cardiac clearance for my surgery. I have a bit of history with heart issues since early 2001. I eaxplained that when we first set up the surgery date, the surgeon's secretary asked about cardiac clearance. I told her that I had just seen a cardiologist in the same hospital complex where the spine clinic is located. She said "no problem".

    She faxed a request to the cardiologist's office for surgical clearance that day (July 18). That office promptly lost that request until today! The surgeon's secretary called me and told me to call the cardiologist's office and get that clearance ASAP. The cardio's office said, the doc is on vacation for the next two weeks! I explained that I need clearance real soon if my surgery was to proceed as scheduled. Could she look into having another doc or one of their PA's sign off for me? That was at 4:00 this afternoon and I've not heard back from them yet.

    Now I'm in limbo, waiting for something that should have been addressed at least two weeks ago. As much as I don't look forward to the experience, I need to get this fusion done as soon as I can. I'm off work on disability and all I can do is lay around the house and occarionally travel out to the hospital. The sooner I get this over the sooner that I can get going again (hopefully).

    I won't say "what next". I'm afraid to find out what that could be.
    Disability retirement
  • I hope you don't have any stents, or I should say I hope you don't have any metal stents as they, the hospital, may try to make you get a catherization done if one hasn't been done recently. Doesn't matter that your regular heart Dr. or his group clears you or not as its starting to become a normal before any surgery.

    Wish you luck with your Pre-op and surgery.
  • Well, I can report a bit of good news. Today the cardiologist's PA called me. She said that as long as my BP was under control, and I wasn't having any chest pain, she would clear me for surgery. She's now sending a letter to that effect to the surgeon. Yea me! Surgery is now a go for Aug 14.
    Disability retirement
  • quicksilverqquicksilver Posts: 126
    edited 08/10/2012 - 6:32 AM
    My friend dropped off the necessary gear for my recovery last night (raised toilet seat, shower chair, walker). I also got a call this morning from my surgeon's office. Because of a late cancellation, I have been moved up to the first case of the morning. Previously I had been scheduled to be the second case. The time change isn't much, but any forward progress is good news. If you want to call this good news, then it is.

    I am as ready to go as I ever will be for next Tuesday.
    Disability retirement
  • little bit of good news helps! Will be thinking of you next Tuesday, and wish you all the best! Do the doctors still think
    that part of your pain is SI related?
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • ouch2 said:
    little bit of good news helps! Will be thinking of you next Tuesday, and wish you all the best! Do the doctors still think
    that part of your pain is SI related?
    To be honest, I don't think so. The physical medicine doc seems to have no real interest in finding out what causes my continuing pain. Back before my first surgery (was it only 13 months ago?), I made the mistake of mentioning that I've used medical marijuana. Since then she's been treating me as if I have a substance abuse problem. I don't; I have a pain problem that nothing has corrected.

    When she finally suggested an SI injection my feeling was that she really didn't have a clue as to what's causing my pain. I felt as if she was merely grabbing at straws. True, I had a couple of days of relief after the injections, but the pain came right back. My next visit was to see the surgeon who told me that my fusion didn't work. Nobody has said diddly squat about my SI joint. I have a feeling that dealing with my SI joint is on hold pending the outcome of my fusion revision.
    Disability retirement
  • ellencalieellencali Posts: 162
    edited 08/12/2012 - 8:54 AM
    Good luck to you, Michael! I am recently recovering from a 3 level fusion and find the the more positive I can be the better I feel! I send you all the postive thoughts I can spare! I so hope you this surgery is a success!
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • quicksilverqquicksilver Posts: 126
    edited 08/12/2012 - 9:34 AM
    ellencali said:
    Good luck to you, Michael! I am recently recovering from a 3 level fusion and find the the more positive I can be the better I feel! I send you all the postive thoughts I can spare! I so hope you this surgery is a success!
    Thanks. Your note is quite timely as I start to really think about my immediate post-op pain. The time is drawing near!

    Disability retirement
  • I will be thinking of you tomorrow as you have your surgery. I hope everything goes smoothly and you have relief from your pain. Please keep me informed on your recovery:)

  • I'm going to be off-line soon for a week or so as I recover and get back home. I'll be back then, but probably typing r-e-a-l slow for a few days after.

    Disability retirement
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