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L5-S1 ALIF scheduled for 8/30

My disc space is collapsing after the microdiscectomy I had back in February. After several opinions (including one guy who wasn't comfortable doing anything, but I think it was due to his young age as a NS...36 years old) I consulted with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in complex spinal procedures and decided it was time for fusion. I was surprised to hear him say however that he does not do a vertical incision to the side of the abdomen, but rather a horizontal incision just below the belt line (I can continue wearing my Speedos at the pool, he joked), and he also claimed most of his ALIF patients go home the same day. I'm hopeful this will finally end my excruciating sciatica, and completely nervous to be undergoing my 2nd back procedure in a year. I'm tired of 3 Percocets & 3 Somas a day (going on 3 months now) and still not being able to put my socks on in the morning without tear-inducing pain. I also worry about scar tissue in there.

Anyone else out there undergo an ALIF with a horizontal incision? I've exhaustively researched all the fusion procedures I can and have yet to see that one.

Nervous, nervous, nervous.



  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 08/21/2012 - 4:05 PM
    i had ALIF the conventional way with the scar running from my pubic bone to my belly button {or pubic synthesis to umbilicus]
    it was back in dec 2011 and it was a massive operation .the scar is all but a faint red line now but i still have major back ache .the consultant told me that the operation was being done to stabilise the spine and any pain relief would be a bonus .my consultant is one of the uk's best .4 other consultants refused to do any more surgery on my spine due to previous poor surgery but my consultant specialises in this type of surgery where others fear to tread .the recovery time for ME will be around 3 years .due to previous complections .remember the operation is a big one with a hard recovery so don't be in a rush to be ;;;;normal too soon;;;.you will need help for at least 6 months when you get home .a recliner would be a very good investment for when you come home .i almost live and sleep in mine .also buy yourself a grabber {amazon sell them for around 5 pounds }you will be surprised how much you use it .i also use a TENS as well as my pain killers .a raised toilet seat will also help. i was so weak when i got home that my wife has to help shower me for the fist 6 weeks as i was so tired and anything with defeat me .i found myself crying on a daily basis .wondering what was happening to me .{its normal after major surgery} i am mentally ok now 8 months on but unfortunately still suffering in pain and likely to be for a long time ./good luck my friend tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I also had a traditional incision. The doctor used the incision from a previous fusion, just extended it a little. I was in the hospital 3 days and then off work for 6 weeks. I am very active and have been a competitive athlete all my life and I know that helped in my recovery.

    Besides a bolt from my pelvis to my spine I had the disc removed. When the surgeon got in he discovered it was a mess. My recovery was a bit longer since a ligament got stretched during the process.

    That would be great to go home the same day but it is a major surgery and you need to take your time with your recovery. Just because I went back to work at 6 weeks is no indication of my total recovery. Each of my fusions has taken years for me to get back to the activity I want. But I am also very determined!!!

    Good luck and please let me know how it goes. I am very interested in the horizontal incision. I am fused L1-S1 so probably (hopefully) no more lumbar fusions. I do have an SI joint fusion coming up but that is going to be different.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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