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Failed to Fuse

Has anyone had a
Back fusion that didn't take? I have had 4 back surgeries in four years. First a Laminectomy/ micro diskectomy that FAILED. Then a Fusion on l5-s1. Second surgery was l3 & l4 then a year later l2. Thought I was done with back surgeries forever. Then I started complaining of low back pain / hip pain so I just saw the Top Hip surgeon in Boston. Much to my surprise it's not my hips but my back ? It turns out that NONE of my fused levels ever fused so he wants to take Everything out and start over?( I can't even imagine doing this one) and to top it all off I've been waiting for a date to get a Total knee replacement. Has anyone had to do this ?? Any advice ?? Don't want to stay on all these pain mess forever! I just want my life back.


  • Hi. This is so sad. I wish I could tell you something, but I was just fused l5-s1 in july. It was 4 months today.

    I have a question after you had your l5-s1 fusion did the stress from that cause our other disc to need to be fused? This is my worry.
    40 year old mom
    Tlif July 18
  • I'm sorry to hear you have not been able to fuse. If I were in your shoes, I'd ask the following questions; 1 - What does the surgeon feel would be a possible outcome of having revision surgery? 2 - Can a BMP (not BMP2) be used to help promote bone growth? 3 - Will the surgeon prescribe a bone growth stimulator to be used?

    Depending on the answers I got would help me say yes or no. After your previous surgeries, did you avoid taking NSAIDS and did you smoke? Those two things seem to really affect healing.

    When you get fused, the segment above the fusion does get extra stress put on it. Depending on how you take care of yourself, you may be able to avoid further fusions, but the risk is always there of doing harm to the segment in which another fusion could possibly have to be done.

    That's one thing that most people who post on this site have said caused further issues is an accident or something significant that causes extra stress on the joint above the fusion. My doctor told me I could go back to doing everything I used to do after surgery. He obviously didn't know me to well! I do have back pain again, but fortunately, it's not disk related.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I'm SHOCKED that you had a second fusion surgery without the surgeon first checking on the first fusion to be sure it was fused. That's just me, but I'd be upset if I had arrived at Fusion #4 before finding out 1-3 didn't work.
    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 to have revision surgery due to non-union, fortunately it took the second time around. About the only advise I could give is listen to your doctor and don't smoke.
  • Thank for the replies. I've never smoked and def no NSAIDs. I actually have degenerative disk dis. Very aggressive.i changed surgeons after l5s1. Didn't think he did enough. The second surgeon was great. Kept telling me things looked good. Never really commented as to how fused I was. The New surgeon says its a 60-70% chance it will work. This time around he is planning on using part of my Hip to help out the process.

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    The 5th actually fused my neck but it is a mess from all the damage
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