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surgeon consultation questions

first post here. I've been reading for months. All the info has been very informative, although I wish there were more positive threads and outcomes. yes, I realize those people are off doing normal human things and not on this site.

I have a consultation with a neurosurgeon next Monday and wanted to formulate questions when we meet. I have had two MRI's that reveal I have a disc bulge at L5S1 and a small bulge at L4L5. Had back pain going on 8 years. I've seen a chiro that used activator years ago that I believe relieved the sciatica. This most recent bout has been going on for year and a half. Done PT and swim quite a bit. I have a prescription for traction. I'm 36, and good shape. 5'10, 165 lbs. I've spent the last 13 years working in a fast pace food/bev gig and surfed the entire time. I have no one particular moment that I can pin down that injured my back except lifestyle of playing a ton and doing constant repetitive bending, leaning, twisting on my feet 40+ hours a week through my job.

I've been on a year long unpaid sabbatical from my employer which couldn't have come at a better time. They do continue my full medical benefits though. I'm 7 months into it.

I am in no way considering surgery at this time because at the moment I feel "slightly OK". Sciatica comes though after walking a lot and doing too much. I also realize this sabbatical has done wonders but feel it's only because I've been off my feet.

Now to the nuts and bolts from all you great people. If you had to do it again, what questions would you ask a surgeon for your initial visit? I've formulated many. Just hoping to get more perspectives.

All the best folks and I hope everyone keeps on keeping on.




  • allisgoodaallisgood Posts: 3
    edited 10/06/2012 - 9:54 AM
    Anyone have any suggestions??
  • The surgeon should have your MRI/CT Scans etc, He should be able to tell you what he has in mind to help with your problem, With me when my doctor advised I needed surgery I researched all Neuro-surgeons in my area and picked him because of his experience/and patient reviews, On my consultation he told me what he was going to do, decompressions and fusions based on reviewing all my tests, All i asked was when could he do it, approx time in hospital, success rate, complications, I was just so thrilled after 3 yrs of getting the run around with physio/chiro/pain management, At last someone who could help me try and get my life back, Surgery is no fun, but I am glad I had it done. Read as much as you can on this site and draw on the wealth of experience many have to offer,

    Hope this helps you a little


  • From the research I did, I pretty much knew I needed a fusion so this is geared more towards that procedure. Some of the questions can be asked for any procedure though. Hope it helps

    MRI/Discogram/CT/Symptom Review
    • Thecal sac measurement
    • Facet hypertrophy
    • Annular bulging
    • Pars defect/fracture
    • Spondolythesis grades
    • Foraminal narrowing
    • Tingling – midline back to left butt, quad, outside calf, bottom of foot (groin on occasion)

    What kind of surgery and where will it be done?
    • Fusion (how many levels 1 or 2, bone grafts)
    o Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
    o Anterior/Posterior Lumbar (95% success)
    o Minimally Invasive Anterior Approach
    o Posterior Dynamic Stabilization Systems
    o Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF/TLIF)
    o eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF)
    • Discectomy (removal of part of disc)
    • Laminectomy (decompression)
    • Artificial Disc Replacement
    What is the surgery process?
    What are the benefits of the surgery (stabilization, pain relief)? How long will the benefits last?
    What are the risks?
    What is the overall success rate? What is the chance that I will have to undergo another surgery?
    How many of these surgeries have you done? What is your success rate?
    What is the recovery time?
    • How much time in the hospital?
    • How much time before I can return to work?
    • When can I start PT?
    • Will I have to wear a brace?
    • What restrictions will I have and how long will I have them?
    • When can I go back to the gym, when can I get into the pool, and when can I get back to my normal routine?
    • When will the fusion (if that is procedure to be done) be complete?

    Single level L5/S1 360 fusion with 6 screws and a rod (10/29/12)
    Diagnosis: Grade 1-2 spondylolithesis, Pars Defect, L5/S1 disc tear anterior and posterior, DDD, spinal stenosis
  • DaveFusionDDaveFusion Posts: 476
    edited 10/07/2012 - 5:09 AM
    Suggest that you search this forum for "Questions for surgery". You will get heaps of info on what to ask and look out for. You may have seen these already.

    However, since surgery is not on your radar, I would ask who is the best Physiotherapist or similar or exercise regime that the surgeon knows of that is likely to prevent the need for surgery.

    Alternatively, there are great books that provide detail how to's and are available from libraries and book shops and online, if you don't find the right person. Alternatively, this website has heaps of info. Really recommend you get expert advise rather than DIY.

    Many people have had back pain and disc bulges and were able to intervene early enough to prevent surgery. Hope you can too. I wish I knew then what I know now...

    Some on this forum may live near you and have the ideal contact for you.
  • EmilyEEmily Posts: 112
    edited 10/07/2012 - 9:30 AM
    I would certainly ask a surgeon (and a non-surgical specialist too) - How long will this take to get better naturally and what can I do to protect my back to avoid surgery. Believe me, you're never the same after back surgery. Only get it if there is no other option.
  • thanks everyone for the feedback. Tmw is the consultation. I think by them actually allowing a consultation I must be a candidate for some kind of procedure. Not sure if that is good or bad. Anyway, thanks again.
  • EmilyEEmily Posts: 112
    edited 10/08/2012 - 11:11 AM
    That's part of the problem. I think you have to actively ask about non-surgery options to hear about them.
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