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Spinal Fusion

Hello everyone,
My name is Lauren. I'm a 21 year old female and have been told that I have to have a spinal fusion due to a collapse around the disc space. He gave me options of what he could put in, but I don't know which would be best. He mentioned rods, cage, and bone graft. I have heard that people with rods lose full movement at that area. I don't want to have a stiff back for the rest of my life, so I'm iffy. I was just hoping for a few opinions on what would be the best method and maybe some questions I can bring up at my next appointment?
Lauren Davidson


  • I'm 24 and had a 2 level fusion in October. My surgeon used rods and clamps with a bone graft from my ribs and said I should have very minimal loss of movement. Personally I would leave it up to your surgeon to use what he thinks is best for your situation.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 01/10/2014 - 6:32 AM
    Next time you go in to see your surgeon, I'd highly encourage you to bring a pen and paper and write down the exact type of procedure he is recommending for you. What levels, what type of entry, what materials and implants, bone graft or artificial bone, etc. Also have him tell you what his official diagnosis of your condition is, as he sees it.

    Then you can start educating yourself and asking the important questions about the procedure and all that it includes.

    Having all this information in one place (I have a large black leather binder where I keep my entire "Lumbar File," with my MRIs, X-rays, history of PT, cortisone injections and medications, diagnosis etc) you will be armed with information. Should you want to get a second surgical opinion, you'll have all that you need right there, as well.

    I also had to submit all my information from my binder to my surgeon's office to secure my insurance pre-approval for surgery and it was nice to not have to track down records.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Rods, cage and graft are all things used in a spinal fusion. Whether or not they use rods, that joint will never move again. As my neurosurgeon likes to say, "fused is fused."

    As for loss of flexibility, that will depend on which level is being fused.

    It's odd that a surgeon would give someone much input on the particular hardware options as most people wouldn't know the difference between a Caliber cage, SynFix, or whatever's popular now.

    As Sarah suggests, you really need to ask your surgeon plenty of questions and be an educated patient. As an alternate to fusion, are you a candidate for ADR? (Artificial disk replacement) Beyond that, what is the exact diagnosis, what procedure do they plan to do, recovery time, etc?
    August 2013 C7-T1 MED
    July 2013 L4-L5-S1 TLIF
    December 2011 C5-C6 ADR
    April 2009 L5-S1 MED
  • At what level did the surgeon tell you that you need a fusion?
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
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