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2 days post op Thoracic fusion

OK there is not much on thoracic surgery and I'm setting in my Hospital bed right now 3 days post op and getting much better fast.I had a 3 level fusion with 5 screw and two rods there was no bone for the 6th screw that's why the unevinenumber. The pain I had coming in is gone now it's just operation pain. They have me on my 40mg OxyContin x3 daily Narco every four hours along with PCA morphine 3mg every ten minutes with a steroid and Valium seems to be working well.

Right after surgery I was in pain like never before had me crying tears I don't cry and my wife knows it so when she seen me crying she about passed out my Mom and Brother had to help her down to a chair so then I was thinking king about her for about 3 seconds then back to me and my pain. No sleep first night pain like I could not believe.

OK so day two got better when they changed my meds around d the nurses forgot to give me my OxyContin but the surgeons nurse co.e in and seen that and flipped so they got me going on that and a steroid and Valium much better. I sleept some and fill much better on day 3 got the catheter out and they will take the drain out of my wound sight later tonight Dr. wants me to get shower thanks Doc I love my showers.

OK that's it for now I hope this makes since to you guys lots of drugs on board. Fill free to ask any question.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery

  • Welcome to spine Health.

    Thoracic spinal surgery is known to be difficult. Having 3 levels fused must be tough. Which levels have you had fused?

    It sounds like you are now into your recovery, after a rather shaky start. That is not unusual with thoracic surgery.

    Can I ask what led to your surgery?
    Did you have conservative treatments before you resorted to surgery?

    I ask because I have some problems in my thoracic spine but my surgeon is not suggesting surgery. I have 3 herniated discs with 2 slightly compressing my cord. He did tell me that it is a very difficult surgery to recover from and that I would be in much worse pain than I am right now. He has said that we could try epidural injection to see if they would help. At the moment I am coping and so just want to leave well alone. I do wonder what the future holds though. (I have already had a lumbar fusion and a two level neck fusion.)

    I am interested to hear more about what led you to having this surgery.

    Take care and follow all the rules you have been given.
  • Can I just ask how old you are please? - don't have to tell me just an age bracket 'cause I think when you are younger you must heal faster. So good to hear you say this might work.. Some hope yet. Thanks.
  • Well I had T 8-10 fused I don't know how I hurt it really 13 years of football 12 as a Fireman falling through floors,roofs blown up. So I just don't know how I hurt my self but that is the first question all Dr. have asked.
    I am 29 years old. I did have a what thy called huge disk bulge that turned into bone or calsification pushing into the spinal cord causing lots of weakness in my legs and horrible pain in my chest. I did have all the conservative treatment but there is not much you can do for a chunk of bone in the way.
    I do have my L4-5 fused from being hit head on by a drunk driver. Unfortunately L5/S1 is falling apart and L3-4 are know bulging pretty bad. I guess the worst part now is not being able to get comfortable no matter how meany pain killers I have. Well that's it for now any questions please ask and the best advice so far is find the best Surgeon and get multiple opinions I had 3 and all said the same thing. Fix it fast
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 07/16/2013 - 11:37 AM
    Sounds like you will be sporting lots of hardware. Glad you are on the recovery side. Hope it runs smoothly for you. Best of luck to you! Are you now out of the hospital?

    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.
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 07/16/2013 - 12:44 PM
    Thank you for posting. Could you please update on your surgery as I am looking at the same type of surgery for thoracic. Probably T4 - T6. Seeing specialist on Friday again. I am worried as the ones above the surgery seem to go after a while and that means more surgery. really don't want to get on the surgery treadmill.

    Mine is higher and I know they really don't want to operate as it's thoracic but the pain is unbearable even with strong meds and I don't have a life. Still just try to push through the pain but it's been 8 years and I've had enough of trying to be stoic. There is not much on thoracic so it would be so good if you could tell the real story.

    Hope your recovery goes well and the pain subsides and doesn't come back. Take care.
  • Yes I am home I went in on Thursday July 11th and was home by Sunday night. Believe it or not it was easier in the hospital to get more comfortable with all the adjustments the beds have and don't be afraid to take simple things from home like I took my small fan I use every night to help me sleep, I like the noise and it helps the stay cool. Candy Dairy Queen outside food
    little things go along way.

    Don't let your self be in pain your in the hospital they have lots of drugs but you will never get ride of all of it. I use ice and muscle rub every day and night all the time that help so much. Valium is a good muscle relaxer that will help put you to sleep. The biggest thing so far is my wife she is my ROCK and a medical professional so she knows how to help move me and just what to say and do at the right times. She is a little women and I'm a big man. The more people around you to help you the better get what you can done before hand very limited to what you can do.

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/17/2013 - 7:12 AM
    Did they say why the disc bulge had calcified/turned to bone?
    I have herniated discs and I hope that they don't calcify.
    They are slightly pressing on my spinal cord and I do get spasms and tightening around my abdomen that my neurosurgeon thinks is caused by them.

    Lots of us find that we miss the hospital beds when we go home. I have read of some people who have rented them for the beginning of their recovery once they get home.

    Having a good support at home makes an enormous difference.

    Good luck with your continuing recovery. :-)

  • Well they normally turn to bone like material or calcified because the disk was bulged for so long I have had pain in my back from this area since High School. When I would work it would hurt or stand for a long time well a few minutes ride n the car on trips but Tue pain would get better after a day and I could manage but about 6 months ago the pain started and never left and then turned I to a band of pain around my chest that hurt so bad I could not breath.

    So I had all the test and my pain Dr. Was straight up about this t he said that's one of the biggest bulges I have ever seen in the Thoracic spine and was not sure he could help but we did all we could and surgery was next.
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 07/17/2013 - 12:23 PM
    How are your pain levels at the moment? Can you breathe OK. You said the old band of pain round your chest gone and is the pain now operation pain? Is this still OK?

    That is a fairly quick stay in hospital, lucky you have a great wife. I know what the car trips feel like, every bump is murder.

    Thinking of you and hoping your recovery goes well. At least you are young and strong so the recovery should be a bit easier. Do you have enough pain meds at home. Is your wife able to sort them out for you when you have pain?

    Can I borrow her if I have my op? Just joking. What is candy dairy queen? - I'm from Aus, sounds yummy. I really appreciate you posting from bed. Seeing my specialist tomorrow to see what he says. It is great to get the real story. How did you chose your surgeon and had he operated on thoracic before?

    Sorry to ask so many questions. Thinking of you and praying your recovery goes well. This surgery is dangerous so am so glad it seems to have gone well for you and hopefully has reduced your pain levels although it might be too early to tell. You have given me some hope. Thank you.
  • Been there, done that. Correction - doing that. I'm 17 months post-op from a T2-T8 fusion. Not that it really helps, but I know what you are going through. That first shower is wonderful isn't it? I bet the hospital staff was happy too. They sure were when I finally took a shower. Here are three words of great importance - "Milk of Magnesia". It is gentle and that is all that needs to be said about that.

    The docs will say your recovery time is 3-6 months, but for me it was more like a year and recovery is not the same thing as "pain free" or "through with treatment". Even 17 months later, I am taking 4-10mg Norco, 2-5mg Valium and 4-600mg Neurontin daily and not happy about it. The nerve and muscle damage from the surgery still gives me fits and my vertebrae and/or discs get jammed up above and below the fused segment. I can usually unjam the bottom side by walking, but the top works it way out on its own schedule no matter what I try. Sometimes, the most effective thing I can do is lay flat and take all weight off of my back.

    Be weary of chairs that put all of your back pressure on the thoracic segment (about 99% of all chairs in the Universe for me). What happens in my case, especially with ergo chairs that bulge inwards into the mid back area is the pressure placed on the rods also torques every screw and causes a nerve storm from hell. You will see people posting about rib cage pain. It starts out at the spine and wraps around your rib cage and feels awful. So if you start feeling such things, please do not wait until the pain makes it to the front or it will take much longer than needed to get relief.

    For my friend down under, it may be time for you to really consider having surgery. I wish I could tell you that you would get better and not worse, but I am afraid that is something you cannot ever know until you do it. I know things got a little un-fun for you recently. I sincerely hope things are getting better again.
  • rsaylor8326rrsaylor8326 Posts: 14
    edited 07/19/2013 - 1:50 AM
    Well Dairy Queen is the King of Ice Cream restaurants and candy is just sweets mints, hard sweets stuff to eat not good for the teeth but good for the soul. Yeah Tue car ride was not fun I went 3 hours away to have it done at a big Hospital with the best equipment and Dr's. My wife works for a big Hospital chain here so I have some of the best Dr to choose from. My surgeon is very skilled and has done meany Thoracic surgeries. One thing about having a Wife in the medical field specialty the one she is in they know all the best surgeons and I did lots of research on the internet and reviews from past patients also.

    JMHR68 yeah that a lot of work there you have had done. I can't find to meany chairs that are good for me. I have had a few new pains since surgery that I hope go away or there going to be very rough to dill with. As of now I am taking OxyContin 40mg x3 daily every 8 hours and some Narcos 10 when I need then the Valium works wonders I think more Dr should use it for muscle pain and spasms then they do little safer then some of those muscle relaxers. I try to walk daily or helps but we are going through this heat wave in North West Indiana now so that sucks my pool is so warm for the first time all year kids love it I hope it stays that way a few more weeks so I to can enjoy it soon. I have been doing a lot of research on the best long term chronic pain meds and what's best for me seems like Oxy is still the big one but the Kew formulation seems different but that's a different thread good day.

  • Hi thank you again for posting. I saw a new specialist on Friday - yesterday here and he couldn't believe the misinformation I had been given since this whole thing started. he said I should have been operated on straight after my accident, told me the expensive pain clinic I went to was a rip off - which I already knew - he couldn't believe that I still have no real diagnosis for what is actually causing the pain and have never been offered a facet joint injection.

    He has ordered a battery of tests to see what is actually causing all the pain, I have to be there the whole day. But at least he is the first one who has offered to do something. He suggested a cage but will wait until the tests come back to pinpoint the issue. He was non assuming and very friendly - asked me to call him by his first name which is very unusual for a highly qualified surgeon. He is the first one, apart from my new physio who has given me some hope.

    Thanks for the explanation of a Dairy queen candy - have read that chocolate is really good for pain - thank heavens cause I am always craving sweet food.

  • It sounds like your appointment on Friday went really well and that you have found yourself a good surgeon. Does he do lots of thoracic surgeries? Having a good relationship with your surgeon is important. Obviously their surgical skills are the most important things, but being able to talk to them, ask questions and have them answered and just being able to trust them is important for our confidence. Not all surgeons are good with people but the ones that are are much nicer to deal with.

    I am so pleased that you have found someone who seems to care about the pain you are in and is intending to help you. :-)
  • Well first of all very good you sound like you found your self a surgeon. Fills good to have a DR. that you like and respects youfallow up ddo the test and I bet you will find a solutuon. Well today was not such a good day woke up 4am and I am now in the ICU with full right lung pneumonia and a tons of stuff wrong with my blood work. Just though I would update going go get a shot of dilodid.
  • At least they should be able to clear up the pneumonia, hate it when they make you cough, it hurts so much. Hope they are sorting out everything for you and you get some pain relief at least . Trouble with that is that can effect your breathing hence the pneumonia.

    Thanks Jellyhall and Jmhar for the support with my new surgeon. Showed him the stuff I had written on SH so I didn't have to go through the whole story with him again.

    Strange thing is, part of the reason i went with him is that he advertises on this site, but he had never heard of SH which was pretty strange. Gave him the links.

    Anyway this is not about me. Am thinking of you in ICU and hope it's nothing major.

    If anyone has relatives in NZ there have been massive earthquakes around Wellington on the North Island. My step kids live there.. No-one seems to be hurt, but if anyone knows anyone in Wellington might be worth checking they are OK.

    Hope they have cleared your lungs by now. Crap if you have to sit up but that's usually what they make u do. Hope they fix your blood as well and you haven't picked up an infection. Guess that's the trouble with hospitals, you're in with a whole lot of sick people so it's easy to pick up infections. Hope you r feeling a bit better now.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/22/2013 - 1:51 AM
    I am so disappointed to hear that you are in the ICU with pneumonia.
    Hoping that they will be able to treat it quickly with antibiotics and that you will be able to return home again soon to continue your recovery.

    Sometimes there can be complications in the early stages of spinal surgery recovery, but generally in the end the result will be good.
    I had various problems after my lumbar fusion; surgeon started to open a window into the wrong level so had to extend the incision to open the problem level, incision opened up again after surgery, got a wound infection, then developed over granulation tissue that had to be cauterised. After my cervical fusion I had the usual problems swallowing but then discovered that the Superior Laryngeal Nerve to my vocal cord has been paralysed. Things all got dealt with and my overall result has been good. I have my first voice therapy session tomorrow to try to improve my singing voice.

    I hope that you will look back on this and see it as just a hic cup along the way to a good outcome. :-)

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/21/2013 - 9:06 AM

    How strange that your surgeon advertises on here and yet hadn't heard of this site.

    I hope that you will find a way to get in a position where your pain is gone or at least much improved.
    I would be interested to hear what your surgeon says about Spine Health and this forum.
    I know that some surgeons recommend this site to their patients.
    I was given a print out about my surgery beforehand by the hospital, and it was an article taken from this site.

  • rsaylor8326 said:
    Well first of all very good you sound like you found your self a surgeon. Fills good to have a DR. that you like and respects youfallow up ddo the test and I bet you will find a solutuon. Well today was not such a good day woke up 4am and I am now in the ICU with full right lung pneumonia and a tons of stuff wrong with my blood work. Just though I would update going go get a shot of dilodid.
    Take your time and heal. There will be plenty of time to talk about overall recovery. Sending positive vibes your way this Sunday evening.
  • jmhar68jjmhar68 Posts: 60
    edited 07/25/2013 - 2:45 PM
    Just checking back in. I sincerely hope you are doing ok. The first couple of weeks or so after surgery is up and down. The good thing is it evens out shortly after that.
  • sorry to hear you took a turn like this. I hope they got the lung back to normal.

    prayers for you
  • ecpm821eecpm821 Posts: 3
    edited 08/18/2013 - 12:06 PM
    Hi everybody, writing in after seeing this forum .... I am 5. Wks post op from what could have been a tragic accident, I raced motocross for a stint, doing very well and very comfortable on a bike I went for a trail ride to quickly come across a washed out trail... my bikes front tire disappeared into a 4 ft hole propelling my head into the bank. 24 hrs later I underwent posterior thoracic spinal fusion surgery for 3 fractured vertebrates and 2 vertebrates which sustained compression fractures, to boot I also received 4 broken posterior ribs. After 4.5 hrs of surgery, 2 16" rods, 8 screws and hardware to boot I stayed in the hospital a total of 8 days..... all is healing well with the exception of wearing the brace which aided in the staph infection I now have in 2 spots along this incision. My dr has put me on Keflex, I caught the drainage after 2 days of the wound draining.... my question is, has anyone else suffered this setback and does it heal fast with impeccable cleanliness and the antibiotic?? Thank you in advance
  • rsaylor, how are you doing? Have they got that lung sorted?

    ecpm, I contracted MRSA in the chest drain incision and it was treated with a blockbuster cocktail of antibiotics injected via a valve/line direct into an artery twice a day for ten days. Fortunately that stopped the infection before it did any serious damage, but it took ages for the lung to drain - about three weeks instead of three days.
    I do notice that I am now more prone to contract infections, especially in the throat and nose probably because the antibiotics destroy all the good bacteria (which helps you fight infection) as well as the bad.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • Welcome to Spine Health.
    Sorry to hear about your accident and that you needed urgent thoracic spine fusion surgery.

    I had a wound infection after my lumbar fusion and it was successfully treated with oral antibiotics.
    The area of the incision where the infection was had opened up. The antibiotics did treat it in a couple of weeks I think. I also developed over granulation tissue in that area that had to be cauterised with silver nitrate. The wound did take longer to heal and I needed to have the dressing on until 6 weeks after surgery.
    The scar where the opening and infection was is now wider and darker, but it all healed up in the end.
  • Thank you both mickkr and jellyhall. Well, the dr said fortuneatly it was not staph and just a mild skin infection that has now went away with the antibiotics... Phew, thank god.... All is healing very well and I can't wait too get back to work... How long does it take for evidence of seeing of when the fusion is fusing? Also, during that infection I limited the use of my back brace to keep the heat and moisture off the incision site, does this hurt healing?
  • RS Really thinking about you too and wondering how you are. Hope u r out of ICU and feeling a bit better. Hope they have everything under control. RS please write and tell us u r OK.

    Ecpm are you OK as well? I came off a motorbike too and damaged my thoracic spine, they didn't operate straight away so would like to know how u r going.
  • Hi all, I'm 8 wks post op and all is well, I guess as I've never been thru this.... No real pain at this point others than stiffness but I assume this is the norm for a 6 level fusion. Going for X-rays next wk per the surgeon for evidence of the back fusing.. Hopefully all is well. Hope all is well with everyone, thoracic spine pain, I'm blown away as to why they didn't operate at the time of the injury. In my own situational opinion, back surgery was a dire need with no other real options. In your case I'd have believed the same, I will say that if you undergo the surgery the pain should subside in time thru your healing process. I've met 2 other people that have underwent back fusion surgery, all of which were longer than 10 yrs ago. Those I talked with stated no real degenerative problems, I guess it also depends on your physical and genealogical make up tho. I will keep all posted on my own experience as I look forward to hearing others, especially further along than I for my own questions. Thank you all and god bless
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 01/11/2014 - 2:00 AM
    I had my motorbike accident in country Australia and was taken to a small country hospital. Unfortunately it was New Years day. I didn't drink New Years Eve, and there were only interns on duty. The intern told me as it was thoracic it would be stable and heal itself. I was then transferred to another hospital where they believed the same thing, thoracic should get better as it was stable. They didn't brace me and I had a multitude of other injuries as well. The pain was unbearable, scarey, but they sent me home with pain killers where I lay flat on my back for about 4 -5 months. My mum and my ex partner looked after me. I had never taken a day off before, so I had a lot of leave I could use. I then worked in incredible pain for about 7 years, by taking opoids- still with the doctors saying it should be stable, I believed them. In the end it got too much, I had been in the same job for over 15 years and it was complex but because I had experience I was good at it and I was also good at covering my pain. I also finished a second degree while working full time and the bike was a present to myself for my discipline for studying, writing a lot of papers and not having much time to do what I liked which was having fun. I then transferred to another job which would have been fantastic but I didn't realise it involved a lot of travelling interstate and driving. I would have loved the job before my accident but couldn't cope with the intense pain after driving long distances and a lot of flying round the country.

    I left without waiting for a disabiity pension to come through which in hindsight was incredibly stupid, They didn't see me crying myself to sleep at night, or coming home in tears, or the pain I was in during the day as I used to shut my office door and lay flat on the floor with a heat pack, between clients. Only a couple of people at work got it. My MRI's were prone so they showed up my 80% wedge crush but didn't show up my T4 which was totally in the wrong mechanical place as well as my shoulder and scapula being in the wrong place mechanically. I have never felt agony like it before - it never healed. The really strange thing is before I rode that day I had an overwhelming feeling that I shouldn't be riding that day. Guess I should have taken notice.

    After 8 years and a year off work I finally found a specialist who believed me. he saw active pathology in my shoulder which had been there 8 years but they still didn't pick up my T4 which was causing most of the pain - I believe because I always had prone MRI's. I have found a physiotherapist who has really saved my life. She stopped concentrating on my T5 and looked at my T4 which was really out of place as my T5 was 80% crushed on the right hand side because of the way I came off, so my T4 had nothing to keep it in. She has taped my T4 and shoulder into place and after 8 years I have had a couple of days with no pain. This is the best week I have had and as it is taped I have been able to do some work that has not put me in agony.

    My new specialist says in writing that my injury had been mismanaged from the start - I wasn't insured, only third party and I was the rider, so had to keep working and just worked through the pain. Maybe I needed to learn a lesson - my family have been great and have become much more important to me - I am more sympathetic to other people in pain as I can tell from their eyes - the irony is that I was working with medical disharges from the Military so really knew who was faking and who wasn't.

    I hid myself away at night and withdrew from a lot of my friends as well - they didn't understand as before this I had been really active, never at home, alway running around like a chook with it's head cut off (is that an Australian expression?). I had also put so much importance on my work, was always thinking about it. Even a couple of days without pain is magic.

    I had never lived by myself before and was only staying here a little while but ended up staying a lot longer because of the accident. I still don't think spine pain is understood that well here - I had to find my own specialist and physio. I felt like a lot of Drs who had seen me for 5 minutes at $250 a time, didn't investigate further as only my T5 showed up.I was in too much pain to argue and I thought it would get better. In Australia is is just about impossible to sue Doctors, they stick together. I was also told I had seven years to sue the council (it is now only 2 years in Australia), the police report states it was the council's fault as they had left road base on a blind corner and stones had washed over the road from an unsealed track due to rain. I have had to pay for all my treatment myself so there is no advantage to me to fake pain.

    I am so lucky to have found my physio. I have had some pain free days and because of the tape my spine, scapula and shoulder have stayed in correct mechanical alignment. I have learnt it is probably not a good idea to work through intense pain, that a lot of people don't understand central nervous system injuries. They can't feel the pain and I look like everyone else. I had one specialist sceam at me when I said I would try to get an operation about the number of failed spine operations he sees every day - especially when I said I would sell my house to pay for getting out of this pain. He had just seen someone who had done that, gone to Germany, had a failed operation and had not only lost her house but her marriage as well. I was so upset when I came out of his office, but now have reflected and he was probably right. just don't think he had the best patient manner.

    I have a letter from my specialist acknowledging the injury, saying it was mismanaged from the start, but he has written it is too dangerous now to operate on my T5 as there would be a high risk of paralysis.

    I feel at long last there is light at the end of the tunnel, incessant pain is so wearing, Have lost friends and partners along the way but guess it happened to teach me something, Maybe not to ride motorbikes. Maybe that some people are not real friends, maybe that I shouldn't have put so much time and energy into my work.Maybe that my body is really important, went to gym twice a day before this accident so luckily was in good shape before it happened. Maybe a lot of things. I was brought up to believe all people were good basically, came from a fairly priviIeged environment, now know there are self centred people who only care about themselves and some people are bad. My sister and I often talk about this. We were never equipped to deal with bad people. Have had time to reflect which I had never really done before.

    I tried every form of treatment, $30,000 later I finally found a surgeon who understands thoracic, I have worked in the garden - normally I have one day on, one day off but this is the first time the spine pain has gone away. It has given me some hope. Just a 'short explanation'. In between starting this I went and did some gardening so the pain has come back a bit, but nothing like the usual agony. I am happy EC that you are doing well. Hope Rsaylor is Ok too.
  • HI, I have almost the exact same issues you have had for the same duration. I had low back surgery when i was 19 in 1998 and in 2001 i had a event that started pain in my mid back. finally dr. found issue in 2011 and here i am about to get t8-9 and t9-10 fused on december 4th. Im happy to have found your post but not happy to see someone else go through the same hell i have for this long. Im glad your ok. how are you doing now? I need to get back to work fast! Im the head of household and my wife does not work. I am using FMLH leave for 3 months but my employer is giving me an extra 2 months but no guarantee on the 2 months!! I am a construction superintendent and basically manage 4 guys and subcontractors. i will be getting in and out of a vehicle numerous times a day and sitting at a desk. Im sure at first ill have a light load. Do you think i will be able to manage this in 3 to 5 months?

    Multi level partial laminectomy at age 19. L5s1 L4 L3. Thoracic pain started in 2001 found herniation in t8 and t9 in 2011 multi level thoracic fusion Dec 4 2013, Los fusion near future. And other thoracic pain.......
  • was hoping to hear how you have been and if you are recovering?
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