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My New Spine: Spondylectomy (T12), Fusion and Laminectomy

mrb_dcmmrb_dc Posts: 20
edited 03/05/2013 - 5:08 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Firstly, anyone who has had a Spondylectomy is welcome to respond to this post. There probably won't be too many of us so feel free to post your experiences here if you like!

Here's a scan of my newly reconstructed spine. The surgery was on the 8th and I'm back at home now. The pain is tolerable and I can manage it with 5-10mg of Oxycodone less than 4 times a day. The staples and stitches around the drains seem to be more annoying and painful.

Lots of hardware! Check out what replaced T12!

I'm stiff and moving slowly and following my BLT precautions. I'll have at home PT 3x a week for 3 weeks and then may have outpatient rehab at a local hospital.



  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 10/26/2012 - 12:54 PM

    That is some surgery you have had there.
    I was wondering what led to you needing it. Were you in an accident?
    Good luck with your recovery and PT.

    Welcome to Spine Health; you are definately a 'spiney'. I think you will find that this a great place for support in the long days of recovery after a spinal fusion.

  • mrb_dcmmrb_dc Posts: 20
    edited 10/26/2012 - 1:25 PM
    Hi Jellyhall,

    I had an account here but have been completely unable to access it. So, if my story sounds familiar you probably read it on this forum.

    I had a rare form of sarcoma called a triton tumor about 13 years ago. It's a subtype of MPNST. Following its resection I had multiple rounds of chemo and then radiation. In 2008 I had a sarcoma in my calf and then two years later metastases to my lungs. Earlier this year I had a PET scan and then another - after the second pet scan the radiologist basically wrote "looking back to the first, we missed a lesion in the patient's T12 vertabrae." So, I decided to get a second opinion at a different hospital. Two biopsies (fine needle and core) were inconclusive. However, a MRI showed continued growth and the neurosurgeon decided that surgery was necessary.

    The surgery is called a total en bloc spondylectomy. Basically, they take out the vertabrae in one piece rather than piece by piece or the area surrounding the tumor. This requires the big fusion I had too.

    Honestly, I was terrified about the pain but it has been less than expected. I had an NG tube at the hospital (due to an ileus) and that was probably one of the most uncomfortable aspects about the whole experience. It's strange having to re-learn how to do so many things I took for granted before.

  • If so, I was wondering how you were getting on. It is great to hear from you, and it sounds like things have gone very well for such an enormous surgery. I am so pleased to hear that the pain has been less than you expected. I felt like that when I had my lumbar fusion and really hope that it will be the case when I have my 2 level ACDF on 5th November.

    What is an NG tube?
    Does that vertebra replacement hardware have any movement to help with bending or twisting? If not, I would think that you will have lost lots of your mobility of the spine.

    That makes my surgery pale into insignificance. I admire your courage and wish you a great recovery. Take care
  • mrb_dcmmrb_dc Posts: 20
    edited 10/26/2012 - 1:44 PM
    Yep, that's me. I am doing ok so far.

    The NG tube is for nasogastric intubation. It's a long tube that's inserted through the nose back down the throat to the stomach. I had a lot of stuff backing up and they had to use suction to get it out.

    It's pretty disgusting and was an awful experience.

    Since the replacement is at T12 the neurosurgeon seemed to think I would be OK. I'll lose some mobility but not too much. One of the most important factors to me will be whether I can ride my recumbent trike and go swimming/aqua jogging. I suppose if I can do those two things I'll be mostly content.

  • It looks like you have had 3 levels below the spondylectomy and 3 levels above it fused. That is 7 levels - a massive fusion. You are doing very well and I congratulate you. I'm sure that your wonderful positive attitude will carry you through all of this and I wish you every success, with your spine surgery and with all your other health problems.

    I hope that it will be soon that you will be able to go swimming and aqua jogging and even get back to riding your recombent trike.

    Keep up the good healing and take care,
  • mrb_dcmmrb_dc Posts: 20
    edited 10/29/2012 - 2:15 AM
    I feel better today. Actually, each day is getting a little bit easier. I'm following my precautions which I hope will be lifted shortly after the 8th. My drains and staples will come out this Thursday and I can't wait for that to happen.

    My goal is to be able to walk into my neurosurgeon's office using only a cane. That would be exactly one month following the surgery which was on the 8th of October. Once I'm cleared for the pool Ill be even happier.

    The sad thing is I don't know what the path results are yet. Also, I don't know my prognosis. I could be looking at 3-5 years based on my history. :(

  • It is so good to hear that each day you feel a bit better.
    It will be great to lose the drains and staples after so long. I will think of you when I am fed up with my drain after my ACDF next week. I don't think I will have it in for anything like as long. I think it will only be a day or two!

    Take it one day at a time and keep following all the instructions and rules.

    I hope that you will continue to recover well and that the pool therapy and the recumbant trike riding will follow on soon, and that you will have lots of fun and fulfilling time ahead of you.
    Take care and keep healing
  • I was staggered when I saw your scan - what a HUGE surgery. Good that you're starting to feel a little better now and will be able to do some therapy in the pool soon. It's one day at a time isn't it and wishing you all the best as you continue to heal.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Thanks Trish,

    My physical therapist is coming by today. I'm walking around a lot on my own but I'm still using the walker. My lower back feels stiff and sore and as a result I'm moving slowly. Each day I feel as though I'm a little bit more adept at walking around and maneuvering around furniture my condo. I hope to start using the cane ASAP as I'm barely touching the walker when I use it.
  • I'll be able to go swimming in three months and cycling in one year. It will take some time to recover from this operation.
  • Just keep your eyes on the horizon .....

    You have lots of cheerleaders here to support you through!
  • Hi
    I am looking for some advice, in Febuary 2012 i broke my back and had an operation and had T10 and T11 fused by using a bone graft from my hip, i had 2 x rods fitted and 4 screws, over the last 8 months the bone graft has never repaired and the vertibrea has worn down that far it is now a triangle shape at put a 40 degree bend on my spine, this in turn has caused one of the screws to snap, so all in all my back is still broken and one of the rods is floating, you can imagine the pain, i take 30 tablets a day to help this, i cant stand for long about 2 mins and only walk about 50 meters, i cant lift anything more than a kettle, i have lost my job over this, although the didnt say that when they made me redundant.

    i have just seen my consutant and he has said i need to have another operation to remove the rods and screws and REMOVE T11 and fit a brace in its place then refit new rods, he will open up my ald scar and also cut open on my side to enable him to remove T11, sounds scary, i already have a lot of nerve damage from my accident i have a numb feeling all accross the bottom of my back and also in the top of my left leg which goes down to my knee.

    Just been told my operation is in January 7 hour operation, should i be looking forward to it, hope it works.

    has any one got any experience of this that would put my mind a rest of what to expect.

    Thank you
  • Hi Jim

    hope your doing well, looks like i am going to have a bit of what you had, pleased your positive and on the mend, makes me feel a bit stronger, thanks Jellyhall for showing my this thread, keep us up to date Jim and best wishes to you on a speedy recovery
  • Are you using the same surgeon iainrosella? Do they know why the fusion didn't take? I can see why this would need to be fixed ASAP. I know it must be very upsetting to go through surgery again, however, if you have faith in your surgeon that is very important. It's only one level still and others have had more done at once so keep that in mind. Also if I were you I would try to get other surgeons opinions while your waiting for surgery, that will help reassure concerns, ask what approach they would use etc.

    Wishing you peace of mind and pain relief while you wait for surgery.
  • Hi Paula

    yes i am using the same surgen, they have no idea why the first fushion has not repaired i have loads of tests for bone density ect, but there is no reason, the vertebrea that was fractured should also have repaired itself but has not, thats why they are taking it out now, i cant go for second opinion without discharging myself from my surgeon first which i dont want to do as it will slow the process down, i have seen worse cases on here so that does make me feel a bit better.

  • Hi Ian,

    I am doing well. I am now back at work and driving but I am moving somewhat slowly. At present, I am still in some discomfort although it's not as much. Every day it gets a bit better. Also, I'm at the point where I'm able to move more and have to be cautious to follow my spinal precautions. Prior to this twisting and turning weren't an issue because I couldn't even do it but now I can. Fatigue is still an issue and I wind up taking naps during the day when I'm not working.

    I know a woman now who has had two vertabrae removed (and replaced/reconstructed with instrumentation) over the course of two operations in two consecutive days. She's doing well - I think she was released to go home after two weeks. Both of us had tumors in our spine. I believe hers were malignant though whereas mine turned out to be benign.

    I have had multiple operations in my life and this by far has been the toughest. It is doable though. As I've mentioned in prior posts I just want to be able to get back to being somewhat physically active. Before this I was riding my trike around all over the place... I even did a 1/2 century ride.

    Post some updates - I would be interested in hearing about your progress.
  • iainrosellaiiainrosella Posts: 20
    edited 12/18/2012 - 1:54 AM
    Just been and had my pre op all went well, i have a meeting with my consultant on 8th Jan to go through all the finer details of op, and to sign all the consent forms ect. my op is booked for the 16th jan, they say i will be in intensive care for three days after op then on to a ward for a week or so, at least it will be after xmas, i will keep you informed.
    its good news you are doing well and thanks for your helpfull information, i wish you a speedy recovery.

  • I've been cleared to bend and twist some. Also I can now lift up to 30 pounds. I plan to go to a PT for aqua kinetics training, it is similar to water aerobics but much more intense. Tomorrow I plan to go deep water aqua jogging at the local swimming pool. This will be my first time doing "real" exercises in months.

  • Don't get so excited that you forget to be careful!

    Gently does it. Isn't it great when we start to move on in our recovery. You are doing great! :-)
  • Wow. Big surgery. Best of luck with your recovery. ,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Sounds like your comming on great, thats great news, keep it up, my op next wenesday, not sure how i feel at the moment, scared, happy,.....................
  • My back surgery replacement of T12 vertebrae and recon structure after failed surgery in 2012
    I wanted to wright this before now as I had my surgery on 16th jan, anyway three weeks later here it is. I had to have this surgery as the one I had last year failed to work as per my previous posts.
    I arrived at hospital on the 16th @ 07.00 and was admitted to the admission ward, I met the consultant again and the anaesthetist they explained what was going to happen, the removal of T12 and replace and remove all old metalwork that they could as one of the screws had snapped and may not come out, then replace it with new and a lot bigger, the operation should take about 7 hours.

    I then got took down to get put to sleep, that's it I don't remember anything else for the next three days, this is what I have been told by the wife who of course was going round the bend with worry (Carol) as the operation took nine hours instead of seven.
    After the operation I was moved to intensive care carol came to see me, I was wired up to all the machines you can think of, I had five canulars in my neck, a catheter to drain away urine,and also a chest drain, I had a button in my hand, that I had to press if I needed morphine pain relieve when pressed it would release morphine, or so they told carol, but each time it was empty it left the results, and out of 400 presses I only got about 77 shots, think I must have been a wimp asking for to much....lol .

    I then started to remember things, I had been awake and talking to people, but just didn't remember drugs I think, they said I was getting transferred to a ward but had to remove the chest drain first, to stop infection.

    I was transferred to the ward @ 20.00 hrs, the next day I remember them telling me what they had done, and why I was very short of breath, to my shock they told me they collapsed my lung during the operation to allow them to get access to the vertebrae, this took three days to re inflate fully, this was painfully and needed physio to puff it up, they also told me that they had to cut a chunk out of one of my ribs to enable them to get to the vertebrae to, this is still sore, they took bone grafts of my hip, they then got on with the op, and he said all went good and he was pleased with the outcome, if you look at my profile pic that is my new repaired back, the thing instead of vertebrae T12 is what they call a acro prop, the repair looks good to me, but I can't tell at the moment, because when I was in hospital I got a huge lump appear on my left hand side stomach and the pain from this drowned s out any other pain as it is very painful. I have had all sorts of scans on this and they say it is fluid , gas, and swelling from the operation, and will go away in time.

    My stay in hospital was not great I think due to the cocktail of meds I was on, I hated going to sleep as I went to places you would never want to go to ( hallucinations ) I was phoning Carol at all hours thinking we were together in these places, think she thought I was going mad.....lol.

    After my two week stay in hospital I am now home, still got my big lump and it is still very painful, I feel better to be home, hallucinations have now stopped and I don't feel to bad, I can walk on crutches, the next goal is for this lump to go and then I can see what if any pain I have in my back, but I don't think it will be to bad.

    The painkillers I am on are oxycodone & oxynorm , Tramadol, Pragabilin and paracetamol , all to be reviewed in a months time.

    As you can imagine I sometimes still feel a bit high on all these meds, can't wait to be up and about.

    Thanks Ian

    I am really looking forward to the outcome of this operation because I have a good feeling about the results


  • That is a big surgery you have just had!!
    Thoracic surgery is tough anyway, without it being a second surgery, and then it sounds like things were not straight forward in theatre.
    It is done now and time for you to do your bit : the healing.

    The recovery is likely to be long and tough too. I expect the hallucinations were due to the drugs you were on. Glad they have stopped now.

    Slowly, slowly. Take your time and don't expect too much of yourself.
    I am interested to follow your recovery. I hope to never need thoracic surgery, but do have 3 herniated discs and have been offered spinal injections to see if my tightening and spasms will be helped.

    What were your pre-surgery symptoms?

    Wishing you good luck and a smooth and not too long recovery. :-)
  • Hi.

    Just a quick update , my pre surgery symptoms for the second operations, was just pain when walking and I could only walk about 50metres without crutches, the pain was in lower back, this was just unbearable to live with, and I don't think I could have lived the rest of my life in that pain, and it would have got worse as the vertebra was waring away, and before this surgery it had put a 43 degree bend on my spine.
    The first time pre op I had no pain as I was in a accident that broke my back.

    It's difficult to say if your injections would help you, but if it was me I would try anything before I had to have surgery, because most people I have spoken to including my consultant, say your back will never be the same again after surgery, but then again you can say that about any surgery.

    Just my update, I still have my lump, it has just started to go down a little bit, so that is going in the right direction, all I seem to do at the moment is sleep, not happy about this but there isn't much I can do about it, I have an appointment at pysio on the 16th feb, not sure what I am going to be able to do with this lump, but I will go and see, I have an appointment with the heart specialist on the 25th feb to have a Myocardial Perfusion ( heart ) Stress Scan, this is because they thought I had a small heart attack the day after the operation, after all the panic they then decided I didn't so this is just to double check, ( I don't think I did I just think this pain was from my collapsed lung )
    I then have a appointment on 5th March to see my consultant.

    That's me then.............

    I hope you make your mind up about your injections, I am sure you have tried to get advice on here from people who have had the options you have been given, I feel so sorry for people with back problems as I can understand back pain now.

    Jim sorry for putting my updates on your post but I am interested in following your progress, do you have any for us
  • Hi,

    I am sorry to hear about your troubles. How are things going now?

    I am doing alright. Back in January the doctor changed my lifting restrictions to 30lbs and lifted the no bending and no twisting restrictions. For the most part I feel good. At the same time I have to be cautious because this was a major, major surgery. I am still doing PT and I also drive from Washington, DC to New Jersey to learn how to do a type of aquatic therapy called AquaKinetics or AquaLogix. The company that does the Aqualogix has a "Get sexy" marketing approach which I don't care for but the exercises are outstanding.
  • It is great to hear from you with an update :-)

    It sounds like you are continuing in your recovery, and starting to get back to more 'normal' things.
    I think being cautious is very wise after such an enormous surgery. You are an inspiration to me because I remember your picture and how huge your surgery was. It is so encouraging to hear that mostly you feel good, and are now back to PT and aqua aerobics.

    Do listen to your body and be gentle with it! :-)

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 03/01/2013 - 7:22 AM
    How did your heart stress test go? And has your lump continued to go down?

    I hope that you are still making progress in your recovery. You may still be finding that you go two steps forwards and one step back, but as long as overall you are moving forwards, you will have to be patient. Any spinal surgery seems to have a very slow recovery, but yours was a second surgery and larger than most.

    I will definately try injections before submitting myself to any thoracic surgery!

    My recovery from the ACDF is progressing well and I went back to work this week.
    Ouch!! My back is complaining. I have felt like I have just done a very demanding aerobics class.
    My physiotherapist yesterday said that all my back muscles, from the neck and shoulders down into my lumbar, had all gone into spasm to guard my spine. Not that there is anything gone wrong, they are just used to doing that and now I am starting to work them again, they are not sure what is going on. He worked on releasing the trigger points (ouch again!) and I had to apply heat.

    Today has been quite a bit better, but I am not sorry that the weekend is here!
  • Glad to hear you are doing well Jellyhall.

    I asked my neurosurgeon's nurse coordinator if I could ride my trike indoors on the trainer and she talked to his nurse practitioner who then asked the neurosurgeon (hah!). He cleared me to ride my trike on my fluid trainer and I am very, very happy. I'll be able to exercise more and burn some calories and hopefully lose some of the weight I've gained through inactivity.

  • Now don't go trying to break any records on that trike!!

    Good to hear that you have been cleared for the next phase in your recovery and that you are getting more and more mobile. :-)
  • Hi Jim/Jellyhall

    Sorry I haven't been on here for a while, it's good to see you are both doing well Jim Jellyhall is right you need to be careful not to do to much, but it's great you are starting to get back to a bit of normal life, Jellyhall good to here you are back at work, I understand you must be in a lot of pain but it is one step forward for yourself, lets hope you can continue to do this.

    Update on me is, I didn't go for my stress test I had to reschedule it due to other more important appointments, this is booked for next month, my lump has not gone down or the pain reduced, so this is why I have been going to other appointments to get to the bottom of this.
    The outcome is that during my surgery my surgeon has damaged my intercostal nerve when he cut part of my rib out to get access to my vertebrae, a few days later when I was in hospital this nerve then snapped causing the lump, this is called Abdominal Flank bulge.

    The main problem with this is it is irreversible, so I will have this lump and severe pain for the rest of my life, the lump is that large I look deformed even through my cloths it stands out.

    It looks like my back repair has been a success but the surgeon has made me disabled for the rest of my days, I don't think I will ever be able to work again or have any sort of normal life, I can't even sleep in a bed due to the pain, I have to sleep on the reclining settee.

    There was no mention of this risk during surgery and now my consultant says it is very rare he has only seen it once before in 19years, I have been researching it on Internet and it doesn't sound to good.

    Anyway enough of me moaning on, its up to me now to make the best of what I have, the Mrs is great she helps me all the time and kicks me up the arse when I am feeling down.

    I wish you both a speedy recovery and the best of luck for the future
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