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Posterior decompression from C3-T1 with instrumented fusion.

Recommendation for surgery has been given to my elderly father. Posterior decompression from C3-T1 with instrumented fusion. The surgery date is being rush, which has left my family very little time to arrange for a second opinion on this matter.

One year ago, a referral was made by his GP to see a Neurosurgeon. After reviewing his medical history and relevant imaging studies, the specialist recommended that my father return to see him in a year. Within the past few months he was rescheduled to see the neurosurgeon and new imaging studies were conducted. The recommendation of the surgeon at the present time is to operate in a timely manner. A posterior decompression from c3-t1 with instrumented fusion is being offered to prevent further deterioration and hopefully alleviate pain.
My father has a history of diabetes, hypertension, gout, depression, anxiety and Bell’s palsy.
Since surgery is being scheduled within the near future my family is having a very difficult time obtaining a second opinion on the matter. I have obtained copies of all relevant reports and imaging studies.
We live in Toronto, Ontario. What might be you suggest be the best possible route to go in obtaining a second opinion on this matter? In your opinion is it completely necessary to obtain a second opinion in such a matter?



  • That is a huge surgery. I definitely would see at least one other neuro if I were you. He/she may have the same recommendation, but at least then you'd have some perspective and a choice of which surgeon made a better professional impression on you. Definitely do your homework on the surgeon, the surgery, the hospital ratings and rehabilitation plan. Every one of those aspects is crucial.
    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
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 02/14/2014 - 11:52 PM
    You really need to get a second opinion. How bad is your father's pain? Is there any guarantee it will fix the problem?

    If your father is elderly - how old and he has other problems. Have you asked them how long the recovery time will be? Have you asked about the risk vs reward factor?

    I guess it depends on his age but I really think you certainly need a second opinion and you will NEED a very experienced spinal surgeon to do that surgery. Cervical and thoracic spine is where his spinal cord runs through. They are operating close to his central nervous system, that is why the pain can be so bad but is also why the surgery can be difficult..

    There are many risks. Is he aware of them? I have upper thoracic damage and they will not operate on me just for pain. For me the risk of paralysis from surgery outweighs the pain factor.

    You really need to know the statistics - don't let your father be an experiment - for that type of surgery you need a super experienced surgeon who has had good results. No way would I let my father in for that surgery until you have more answers and at least a second opinion.
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 02/15/2014 - 4:32 PM
    Successful spine surgery depends a ton on the aftercare and adhering to the restrictions so healing can take place. I'm 34 and needed someone to help me dress, dry my hair, grocery shop, get in and out of bed, etc. i needed a walker for the first 2 weeks. These things will be multiplied for your elderly father. I also only had 2 levels fused in my lumbar spine. Your father would have 5 levels. He'd most likely be sent to a care center/rehab center after discharge unless someone else is a full time care giver. I had my fusion at the 4th best spine hospital in the country and met at length with my surgeon twice before opting for him. From the other neuros I met, he seemed to be the correct balance of conservative surgeon (he says no to 9/10 patients who ask him for surgery), and embraced new technology and methods. I felt truly at ease with my choices. Hopefully you will have enough time to make a qualified and educated decision.
    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
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions and to help you navigate the site

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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
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