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3rd fusion

Names Dave, in the past 8 years I have had 3 spinal fusions L-3,L4 &S1. None have took. Most recent was Jan 29 2014. Now it's March 8 and the pain is getting worse. Have a follow up tomorrow. No questions or concerns with the pain, it's a way of life anymore. I am wanting to know if anyone else has had fusions that have not healed ?


  • Welcome to Spine Health........sorry that you need to be here, but am glad that you found us. Do you smoke? Pseudoarthrosis ( failure to fuse) does occur, usually due to smoking during the recovery , or the use of NSAIDS , which interfere with the fusion process. There are other reasons sometimes that someone fails to fuse but those are the two most common contributors to the fusion process not occurring.
    Have you discussed the failure to fuse with your surgeon ? What has he suggested doing about it? Was bmp ( bone morphogenic protein used) in any of the fusions?http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/spinal-fusion/spine-fusion-risks-and-complications
  • Yes I did smoke. My surgeon would not do this last fusion if I still smoked. I quit 6 weeks prior to surgery. No NSAIDS. As far as talking with my surgeon, I have an appt. with him this afternoon. I have used the same surgeon in the last 2 fusions. He used synthetics the last time as did the first surgeon. This last one he used bone from my hip. I was hopeful after this last on. I have followed everything he has said to do and am getting frustrated. My initial injury was when I was 26. Now I am 45. I have been off work for 6 months now because of the pain. I could always work through it before. As I am getting older it's getting harder to do. I hope he has some answers today.
  • I have had one fusion l4/5/S1 but I have had 2 other spinal operations ,and even though my ALIF is a technical success I am still in so much pain and have leg and feet problems .like you have said its a new way of life to deal with ..after 17 years I am still coming to terms with my problems ..they are getting worse day by day .good luck mate
    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
  • Have you used a bone growth stimulator? Sometimes the use of the bone growth stimulator helps , especially for those of us who have difficulty fusing....
  • hi dude, i am also the dude but that is ok if you took my name. just kidding. i have had 4 fusions over 13 or so years. one thing i noticed is that you did not mention if you wore a back brace. i did for all of mine and one was up to 9 months and the last was for 1 month. they are very important because when they fuse you , they take the bone and make a paste out of it to use to solidify the screws rods and cages. if you are not careful, lifting, bending, climbing, etc the graph will not take hold and you will be up the perverable creek without a paddle. it take up to a year to heal and i had to wait for 2 years to have my metal removed. i hope you were careful and had a brace. if not you need to go to the dr asap and ask him. tell him the dude told you to. i have had chronic pain for up to 14-15 years now and i still take meds but after a while it becomes a way of life and i don't even give pain a second thought. working for me also helps. you need to keep busy and take you mind off of the pain.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I do use the bone growth stimulator and a brace as well. Not sure if they are doing anything. I guess time will tell. I am glad I found this site. I don't feel as alone I did knowing others are in the same boat. I got the name boatdude building boats in Florida.
    I did go to the Dr. today to see if he could figure out why I am having so much pain. He took x-rays, took a quick look at them and said everything looked fine. Prescribed a steroid pack and a muscle relaxant. Also want's me to start physical therapy. Was not happy at all about todays visit. Not even my surgeon. They said he was out and one of the partners saw me. Figured it couldn't hurt having a fresh set of eyes on the problem. What a waste of time. I wanted answers not meds. Any way thanks for letting me rant.
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