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Spondylolisthesis and Fusion

Hi everyone,
I'm scheduled to have L5-S1 spinal fusion on April 1 (no joke!) mostly because I have bilateral pars interarticularis defects on L5 and the surgeon can't do just a decompression. I was just wondering from others experiences if the one vertebra is brought back in line with the rest of the spine during the fusion or if they just fuse it as-is. I have asked my neurosurgeon but I'm waiting for a response, so I thought if ask those in similar situations.
Tim Lewis
Philadelphia, PA


  • Yep, they will "line it up" while installing the instrumentation. Funny, today at my appointment we were discussing various ideas for this for people who need more "heavy duty" alinement. My husband offered up a wench while my surgeon one-upped him with a "come along". (in all seriousness, there are "tools" for this)
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Haha. I can just imagine them hooking me up to a Ford F150 and hitting the gas! Thanks for the info, though.
    Tim Lewis
    Philadelphia, PA
  • I am scheduled for a TLIF (MIS) for the L5-S1 level for the pars defect, large herniation as well as the spondylolisthesis!!
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • Spine patient NEVER gets a single diagnosis.... they ALWAYS pile it on.... I'm sure its insurance money :)
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • I had a minimally invasive TLIF on L5/S1 (rods, screws, cage, some disc scraped out & replaced with a bone piece) for sponylolysthesis, pars defect, spinous process fracture, et al ad nauseum) on 1/16/13. They did put the vertebra back where it ought to be for me :-)
    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.
  • Welcome to spine Health!

    Before my lumbar fusion I did lots of reading about this and wasn't sure if my spine would be re-aligned or not. I had read that the nerves can be damaged if the spine is moved from the position it has taken up. For this reason, I wasn't expecting things to be moved. In actual fact, my surgeon did a pretty good job of lining my spine up again.
    I would imagine that they look to see if they can move the vertebrae without risking damaging the nerves and try to pull it back into alignment if at all possible.

    Good luck! Please let us know how you get on :-)
  • at least i THINK that's what it is! :-)

    mine is in 3 days. i am really anxious, and very illogical. i keep thinking he's going to find it to be way worse. i hope you don't mind i am venting, but i am alone, husband on business trip, and we just moved here. my neurosurgeon says it's minimally invasive, but what spinal fusion could be?? tomorrow's another day- i go for medical clearance, and might be able to get a feel for what to expect.

    if anyone has any words of wisdom, feel free to post. it's a good place to come when you are 72 hours out...
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 03/27/2013 - 12:30 AM
    Being on your own, without local friends around you to support you with all the anxiety just before spinal surgery must be very difficult.

    The good news is that you have an enormous pool of spiney friends here who understand the pre-surgery nerves and are very willing to encourage you that this is doable and we will be here during the recovery too.

    Have you read the list of useful items for after surgery? It is at the top of the back and neck surgery thread. If you can't find it, let me know and I will post a link to it.

    I think that the TLIF is considered a minimallly invasive surgery because the incision is not so long. Obviously the work done inside your body will be the same, so it is still a big surgery. Hopefully, because less muscle is cut, the recovery should be a little easier than with a fully open surgery.

    Perhaps you could take a list of questions you would like answered with you tomorrow.
    At my pre-surgery assessment I asked to see the High Dependency Unit where I would start my recovery as I was having a cervical fusion. They also showed me a room.

    Have you prepared your home with things you use frequently at a waist level so that you don't need to reach up or down to get at them? Have easy to put on and loose clothing handy, bathroom things and kitchen items to make a drink etc at an accessible level? Have you got someone staying with you at first to help you?

    Also, I suggest that you have some laxatives handy for when you get home. Spinal surgery and the pain meds used afterwards are renowned to cause constipation! :-)

    Ask any other questions you may have. There are always lots of people willing to try to help and share their stories. :-)
  • jellyhall- i posted in desperation, as i was feeling so isolated, anxious and overwhelmed. i innately knew someone from here would hear my plea and respond....thanks so much!

    you know, i am a disabled RN since 8/11 after a failed micro disc. i had nerve entrapment, so he told me it was a stop gap emergent measure. the fusion was scheduled for 9/11, and 3 days prior i had a massive pulmonary embolus and almost checked out. therefore, on anticoagulants, no surgery for me.

    well, the disability was good money,in california, as my salary was high. that ended in september. no income since then; a move to arizona where i literally know not a soul, difficulties with stringent pain management, etc... i have a mood disorder and see my md 2X/ week, but since jan. have had 2 episodes of rapid cycling- stress related. my life has declined so dramatically since 8/11, even my pain and mobility are worse. my rational head says i will do fine, and my irrational mind thinks the neurosurgeon will find a worse scenario, or i will not obtain a measurable outcome that is positive. in addition, i have 29 days nicotine free- but at one point i thought i would drive my new sonata over the ups man- LOL!

    my pre-op is today. i have a wedge that lifts the upper body electronically to any position, and i will bring it to check if it might be OK with this type of surgery or not. like you- i just want a little tour, as i am a very visual person. i just honestly have difficulty believing i can actually get better, it's been so progressive and long in duration. (original injury in 1998).

    the best part here is i have hired a great CNA who i will have 8 hrs/ day so i am not alone. it will help me so much to have a live person to interact with! no one has even been to visit since we arrived in december. i bought many of the items suggested on the "must have" post. i have 2 basset hounds who were my greatest concern. the baby is 4 mo. old, and is a fall risk for me- so beth needs to manage him in and out of the crate and on the patio, etc...

    like many others, i lived an existence since the fall where no physician believed my symptoms. inconclusive mri's, years of chiropractic and massage out of pocket, PT, etc... a long road. perhaps this really is my chance out of a hopeless situation. i have an ssdi application in, and it is in the hands of my lawyer.. wow.... to go from making like short of 3 figures, living in a luxury high rise downtown, a frequent traveler.....it's just blindsided me.

    i will stay in touch. i know everyone has a rough history and i am not unique. i love the forums, as i do find them helpful and supportive. again- a special thanks to you!
  • paininohioppaininohio Posts: 240
    edited 03/27/2013 - 7:55 AM
    Bassetmommy, I am sending you prayers and well wishes on your upcoming surgery. Update us when you can.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 03/28/2013 - 6:30 AM
    Bassetmommy, it is a pleasure to try to support you. I know that when I first joined Spine Health I was so anxious about surgery that I felt that there was no way I could face it.
    Slowly, with help from lots of lovely people here, I started to understand that the recovery from a lumbar fusion would be hard but it was going to be the only way that I stood a chance if getting a better life.
    I was warned before hand that I would always have back pain because there are problems throughout my spine. My surgery was a PLIF of L4/5 three years ago this month. I have actually also needed a cervical fusion 5 months ago, but that is not usual!

    I was ready for a really tough and long recovery and was glad that mentally I was prepared for that. The reality wasn't as bad as I had feared. I was happy to have it that way round rather than find it was worse than I expected.

    Do give some thought to how you will pass the time while you are recovering at home. It is very common to find that very frustrating and boring. Do you like reading/watching DVDs/crafts??? I even wrote a short story for my granddaughter and have started one for my grandson this time after my neck fusion. I must finish that!!

    Congratulations on being 29 days without nicotine!! That will really help you with your recovery and fusion. Smoking is something that really impedes fusion and makes the healing slower and the lungs are not so healthy either. (As a nurse, you know that :-) ) You want to continue to do everything possible to give your body the best chance for a successful surgery and good healing.

    Do hang around here and come back and let us know how you get on. The support here while you are recovering is fantastic and you will have days when you really need to talk to others who have been through it and understand how it feels. :-)

    You can always send me a PM if you would like :-)
    I'll be thinking of you, and will pray for you if you would like (?)
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