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Fusion failure

It has been awhile since my last post At the end of August I was experiencing pain on my right side and right leg and foot. Since I was in the middle of a two week trip for work I had to endure it until I got back home. I made an appointment with my doctor, I to wait a week or so to get in. I was in a lot pain that was different than before my TILF on L5-S1 almost ten months ago. When I got to see my doctor and told him what was going on he said it sounds like you have a broken screw! I got an X-ray that confirmed his fear. He ordered a CT scan to get a more detailed picture of the screw. The CT scan clearly showed the broken screw on the right side on S1. His next statement really set me back..... He was leaving the practice and I had
to find another doctor! On top of that news he informed me that the fusion had failed and would to be redone as well as replace the hardware. The pain has been intense and I am back on oxy to sleep, can't take it during the day as I can't take any time off right now so during the day I just have to bear it. He did give me a referral for a top surgeon and He was able to see me today. His diagnoses was the same, and my surgery is scheduled for the 21st. He will remove the screws on the right side and redo the bone graft. Recovery will be about the same, 2-4 months off work and a year for the fusion to fully heal. My first surgery was last November and it was hardest thing I ever went through, I am dreading going through it again. Tomorrow I have tell my boss, he has been great and very kind to me during my recovery. He will disappointed but will accommodate whatever I have to do get healthy. Working there for 31 years has it perks. My hope is that this surgery will be successful and I will regain my life back.


  • I am 3 weeks post op my 3rd fusion. first one was 2 level S1-L4, and long recovery. Fullyfused then 5 months later pain escalated. The next two levels disc torn. My disc tear on inside. So in 2010 has another2 level fusion. It was going great. Then 5 months later bam, pain. Went to pain clinic. Had pain pump installed in July 2012. Pain became so severe that he said maybe screw broke or something. No, it was failed fusion. He put in all new hardware and everything Sept 11. I am doing everything as per Dr instructions. Don't want to go through this again. My point being, my first one fused. So behave and do everything they say. I would like to keep in touch and see how you come out. Good Luck and keep me posted.
  • airborne72airborne72 Posts: 245
    edited 10/03/2013 - 4:32 AM

    My two level fusion (L4-S1) in January 2011 became problematic and I had to undergo a complete revision in June 2013. I had the same dread and concerns that you expressed about the surgery and employment.

    But, to my surprise, the second surgery did not hurt as much and I believe it was because I knew what I was in for. Likewise, my employer is extremely accomodating, but to a limit and we may be rapidly approaching that limit. I am 62 and probably resemble "excess baggage" as we enter the health insurance renewal cycle and the impending changes from the AHC Act. We'll see.

    Just like Iowarobin, this time around I am remaining very cautious and conservative in all that I do as I do not want to re-enter the OR. My job requires lots of driving (500 - 1,000 miles/week) with motel stays interspersed. I can't do that anymore and I tactfully explained it. We are currently exploring different options, but some one just has to travel to accomplish the task. It's not me anymore. Perhaps you should seriously consider modifications to your job that would eliminate or reduce your travel requirments. With your tenure it would seem logical that your employer would value your continued, albeit limited/modified contribution to the company and the gross national product. Goodness knows we need as many taxpayers as we can muster.

    Good luck. It's a tough place to be. Many of us on this forum have been, currently are, or will be there.

  • Thanks for the encouragement! I will do everything the doctors says for long as he says. I don't knowif the fusion failed from too much activity or something else. What doe is done I have do it. My job requires to almost live in an airplane . It is not so much the flying it is lugging my luggage and laptop and stuff all over the country.I was gone for four months after the last surgery. I am not going back until I am sure it will cause me no harm. The company has agreed to pay me and maintain my benefits as long as I am gone. I am very fortunate in that regard, Right now I am taking it one day at a time but a decision will be have to be made if I will be ever able to return to work.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/04/2013 - 5:47 AM
    Good luck with the surgery. I had to have two of my screws replaced due to breakage and backing out of the vertebre, and they added bmp ( do not allow it's use from the posterior side) and a crosslink to my failed fusion, so hopefully, you will get great results and in a few months, we'll see you posting that you off to fly all over the place!

    Swing by NY and you can take me flying..........LOL
  • Thanks for the encouragement ! I have 5 more days of work left. I am not returning to my old position . They are transferring someone to take my current job. I don't plan on going back until I am 100 per cent. If it takes a year it takes a year I can not risk another failed fusion . Right now I am considering which bone growth stimulator, an implanted one or external . Has anyone had experience with them. My surgeon has recommended I use one. I just want the best possible result and I realize an implanted unit requires an another surery to remove it. Right now I am just trying to make to the 21st one day at a time.
  • I have never heard of an implanted bone growth stimulator... wouldn't it have to be removed? I'd do whatever the surgeon recommends. Mine recommended a small one I wore on my waist and attached with these sticky things to my back. it could be aggravating, but that's it. I've seen much larger ones, not sure... my surgeon had more luck with the one I used.

    Best of luck to you!
    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.
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