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Second Surgery three months after ALIF

Hello my name is Kristina and I am 25 years old. I have had 11 years of back pain due to degenerative disc disease and have two bulging discs. Finally November 9th, 2012 I had an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Inter body Fusion) with 4 pedicle screws and two titanium cages put in on L4-L5 and L5-S1. The doctor said the surgery went good. But immediately in the recovery room I was screaming in pain. The nurses pushed the max of morphine then decided to start me on diloudid. It took the edge off but my left leg was killing me. Before surgery I had severe nerve pain from my lower back all the way down to the backs of my legs to my toes. That pain was now gone after surgery, but I had new pain down the whole top of my left leg. It was extreme to the point I couldn't hardly lift my leg 2 inches off the hospital bed. I stayed in the hospital four days. The day I went home the pain was a little less. I could manage to walk and move my leg. I got home and over the last 10 weeks I have been on a high dose of Norco 10-325. Two pills every 4-6 hours. Three weeks ago I dropped down to taking one Norco 5-325 only a few times a day. When I had a check-up with my doctor he said my most recent CAT Scan showed a nerve may be touching my lowed titanium cage and could explain my pain. But the doctor also felt as if it could just be inflammation. So three weeks ago he put me on Lyrica 75 mg twice daily. My leg pain seems as if it has gotten a tad bit better but I'm still in severe pain. I had a check up with my doctor last week. He said he still thinks its inflammation and wants me to wait the pain out another month and if it didn't get better he would go in through the back and shave off a part of the titanium cage, then he would put a few screws and a rod in to help support everything so no more nerves would touch and cause pain. My concern is I have had this severe pain since the moment after surgery. I feel as if the doctor knew he put the cage too far over and he should have immediately went back in to fix the problem. Instead I have been suffering for three months. I need to know if anybody else has been in this position with nerve pain and a second surgery being performed.


  • See my signature. Do overs do happen.

    Did you ever have a discogram? If not, that may be your answer as well.

    I hope your situation improves, and likely will, but if not, get it fixed sooner than later.

    Jun 2011 -TLIF @L5-S1
    Mar 2012 -NonUnion @L5S1
    May 2012 -Multi Level Discography
    July 2012 -XLIF 2Cages @L3L4/L4L5
    Aug 2012 -All New Hardware @L34L45/L4L5/L5S1
    Mar 2013 -FBSS = Pain Management until they figure it out.
  • and i am waiting for a CT scan as i am still in awful pain .and have been since the ALIF .its a massive operation and takes a long time to recover from .i have had many problems whilst recovering from the ALIF .things like legs swelling and feet swelling after bending .and a feeling of pressure around the operation site .sleeping is also a problem too i manage 2 hours then pain wakes me .{its been like that for ten years} i have already had 3 operations on my spine .i feel like crap all the time the only thing that takes the edge of is massive amounts of oxycontin .i would say that all the operations on my spine have wrecked my life
    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
  • You gave me chills saying when you woke up you felt that intense pain. I had the same reaction. When i woke up from my 13 hr surgery i started screaming and crying and arching my back. I just cant explain the pain to someone who has never felt it. Im sorry you have been suffering. I would be getting another neuro for a second opinion.
    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • Hope & KJohnson...I woke up from my l5/s1 TLIF similarly (3weeks ago). I'm having flashbacks of it, partially because my pain isn't being managed well right now. We're not alone!
    1/16/2013 Minimally invasive TLIF with rods, screws, and cage on L5/S1 joint to treat grade 2 spondylolysthesis, pars defect, degenerative disc disease. Dealt with chronic pain & nerve issues since at least 2007.
  • I've never heard of a cage extending beyond the vertebral body. I had the same surgery you did, plus posterior instrumentation. I did not have any leg pain after waking up (although my back felt like it was on fire). You are probably right in saying the doctor knew he misplaced the cage. I'm no surgeon but have been through four lumbar surgeries in the past four years and done a lot of research. The cage may be impinging on your sciatic nerve. Hence your leg pain.
    I agree with previous post recommending you see another surgeon as the surgeon who did your surgery may not be totally unbiased here.
  • Hi Kristina.  You probably don't log in as this is a very old post, but thought I'd try on the off chance.  My surgeon did not put my cage in far enough.  I am having another surgery where a new surgeon will shave part of the cage down so it isn't impinging on the nerve.  Did you end up having the second surgery?  If so, how was it?
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