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3 Level lumbar fusion, anyone?

Has anyone out there had 3 level fusion at levels, L5-S1, L4-L5 and L3-L4. I'm looking to have artificial discs at this level removed and have these levels turned into fusion and would love to hear any outcomes from anyone who has had all these 3 levels fused? Thank you.


  • I had 3 levels fused above my L5S1 ADR 4 months ago. Also Laminectomy. I'm doing well. Walking 2+ miles a day and working as a volunteer several half days a week. I still need Norco 3X a day and have some pain, but I'm quite a bit better. No leg pain at all, just low back pain and stiffness. The key is an excellent surgeon that only does backs.
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • Todd In PainTTodd In Pain Posts: 23
    edited 02/04/2014 - 3:51 AM
    Hi Jen,
    Thanks for your post, glad you are doing better. What make is your artificial disc (ProDisc)? Any problems ever with the artificial disc at L5-S1? Did you have artificial discs at levels above L5-S1 before? Name of your surgeon & city where surgeon is located? Thank you.
  • Todd - When and where did you have your adrs put in. Do you know why they arent working?
  • Terri, Los Angeles, apparently, but top surgeon recommended by all including spine surgeons. Unfortunately, the problem is at L5-S1 as it causes too much movement and nerve compression. The implant is intact, so not dislodged. As you well know, the problem with artificial discs is that all imaging (CT/MRI) are not clear as it causes too much "Artifacts" so no way to see nerve problem with any imaging, just clinical symptoms of patient and EMG/NCS shows problems. Looking to hear from you regarding my questions in my last post. Thank you.
  • ADRJenAADRJen Posts: 211
    edited 02/05/2014 - 3:33 AM
    My ADR was a Charite. I went to Germany . I've never really had any problems with it (knock wood).

    Post edited to remove name of specific clinic. by Liz The Spine-Health Moderator Team
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • Terri, thank you, good to hear. What caused the upper levels of ADR to go bad? Just wear & tear over time, or did the Artificial Disc contribute to problems with those levels?
  • Thanks for your post. You defnitely know your stuff, yes CT w/Mylogram is the correct test. CT w/Myelogram already done, it doesn't show much. You know, the problem with artificial discs in the lumbar is that it can't handle the load (your body weight) of the body and it moves, so it causes compression when you are in motion, not necessarily when you are laying flat for imaging, that's exactly the problem, nothing shows wrong on CT Meylo or any other imaging.
  • Todd In PainTTodd In Pain Posts: 23
    edited 02/06/2014 - 12:06 PM
    Yes, did this x-ray as well, it does not show any slippage, but the opinions are that the movement of the artificial disc is causing low back and nerve pain, there is also abdominal pain.
  • prusso13pprusso13 Posts: 5
    edited 02/06/2014 - 4:07 PM
    I have had three levels fused, L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1. L3-L5 were done first, after two years my spine collapsed at L5-S1. I had a synovial cyst the size of a quarter grow and attach to the sciatic nerve and spinal cord. This caused a lot of pain and other problems, so in Feb 2011 they repaired that, put in longer rods, etc. At the time I was doing a very physical job and was able to return in 9 wks. I just retired at age 62 after 45yrs. of work without being disabled.
  • prusso13, Thank you for your post and congratulations to retirement, hope you are enjoying it without too much back pain. It's been 3 years since you've had 3 levels fused. I'm looking to have the exact same levels fused. Can you please tell me how your 3 level fusion has been so far? And what limitations have you experienced? Thank you so much, looking forward hearing from you.
  • prusso13pprusso13 Posts: 5
    edited 02/07/2014 - 3:46 AM
    Of course it will be different for each person that goes through any spine procedure. That said, three continuous fused levels in my lumbar was, and still is much more of a challenge than two levels. Things will change over a longer time period. Two years after you will notice, picking up objects, getting dressed, washing your feet. Many things that might not have been too hard, are more difficult and painful. I don't want to elaborate too much, I will tell you that there is one key part of everyone that can make a very big difference in how well you do and the way you feel. The most important component is Core Strength. Pay close attention to the exercises they give you. You may not at first notice that they are trying to build your core body strength more than any other group of muscles. That is the most compromised area after spine surgery. Many of the moves are yoga positions, get started learning about this as soon as you can. You know that the doctors and other specialist that will be helping you won't elaborate on anything more than they need to. Stay as busy as you can. I had a little dog that got me going everyday, and gave me comfort when I came home completely exhausted from struggling to do simple things. I'm a big guy with lots of muscle but that can't help you open a door if you don't have a strong Core. Good luck with your surgery.
  • prusso13, thank you for your feedback and words of wisdom. I've had (3 years ago), 2 artificial discs at L3-L4 and L5-S1, and L4-L5 fused, so total disc replacement on 3 levels, surgery was a failure and problematic since day one. The movement in artifical discs (not dislodged, just movement that causes nerve pain/compression) has been very disabling. Now, all spine surgeons are advising fusion at L3-L4 and L5-S1, including removal of the artificial discs. It's a very big surgery, but I'm looking forward to some improvement of symptoms. I'm in my 40's and in good shape, but being disabled is no fun. Thanks for your advice, it's not too often to come across another with three lumbar levels fused.
  • Jaclee46JJaclee46 Posts: 28
    edited 02/08/2014 - 5:15 AM
    Hi, I also had a spinal fusion/laminectomy done L3. L4 L5 and S1 with XLIF approach. I have had issues with mine it has only been 7 months, it caused nerve damage in both legs, one resulting in foot drop in which I had an additional surgery done and it hasn't improved. I am told these are rare complications. I am only 46 and I still have back pain as well, Good Luck I hope it goes well for you
  • TO THE ORIGINATOR OF THIS POST do you know that you should have had a discography prior to ADR ? and .if you did the consultant would have decided that ADR was the best option for you .to have them removed is a massive job and a fusion is no fun either why do you want to change from ADR to fusion ? ADR is supposed to be a more up to date spinal operation ..when I went for a two level fusion [I wanted ADR} BUT the discography proved that my spine was too damage to support ADR so ALIF was done and although a technical success I am still an a lot of pain again many people don't realise that a fusion is done to stabilise the spine and any pain relief is a bonus ..ALIF is done through the abdomen and sometime the back as well [sometimes known as a 350 or a global procedure } both are massive operations a with a long recovery period .and as this is not your fist surgery recovery will be long and hard work .unless the ADR implants are giving you hell I would give the fusion a miss .if its pain relief you're looking for then see your doctor for a review of your medication as a fusion may not give you any pain relief and may even exacerbate any existing pain ..be careful and think long and hard about it you could be in a lot more pain and trust me a fusion makes life a lot harder to do simple things like putting on sock and even cleaning oneself after going to the loo .showering is also hard work and if you have one now ..you can say goodbye to your sex life ! .if you are a man ...and this is fact your groin area will swell up like mad and you may experience problems long term in that department ..I know my own consultant would not perform what you are asking its far too dangerous with an uncertain outcome ...good luck with whatever you decide
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Backache99, thanks for your post and feedback. I've had 2 microdiscectomies, and last one (3rd) three years ago was total disc replacement on 3 levels, ALIF, L5-S1 ProDisc, L4-L5 fusion, L3-L4 ProDisc. Since day 1 I've had bilateral foot burnings and weakness, low back ache, recently foot drop in right foot. Prior to the ALIF, several surgeons advised me not to do ADR, but my spine surgeon oversold the procedure and said I would be perfect. Since the surgery, I've had 12 spine injections, Rhizotomy (burning nerves), 20 imaging, daily meds, you name it. I'm young (in my 40's) and active, but being disabled is no fun. Several spine surgeons are recommending revision surgery by removal of ProDiscs and converting to fusion, problem involves movement of the ProDisc (the artificial discs moves and can't handle the load of the spine), it's apparently a common problem with these artificial discs, that is why the outcome is more predictable with fusion, at least, it's solid and doesn't move to cause nerve compression. Anyway, that is my story and the reason why considering removing the ProDiscs. Like you I have mysterious bowel/abdominal problems (constant stomach bloating) and had all test/imaging done and nothing shows. Please tell me your expereince, symptoms with bowel problems? Any findings/thoughts as to what is the cause of this?
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