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failed fusion what now

Just a little background on me. I am 39 and was pretty active with full time job and three teenage daughters. In August 2013 I had a spinal fusion of l4 to l5 after I herniated that disk and the s1 when I fell 7 feet. Anyway, the only reason I did the surgery was to get the feeling in my right leg back as the disk was hitting a nerve. So had the fusion with screws and two rods with the stem cells and all that and while 2 months post op I was feeling good. Still had the numbness in my leg though. Doc told me it was for from the swelling and would go away. Now a year later still have it. I recently went in to complain again that I was in pain and leg was throbbing. MRI was ordered. That showed nodda. Next a ct. Now I have to wait a week to see the doc and discuss it but his pa tells me he believe an the fusion failed and will need a revision. When I asked what that ment he wouldn't speak about it.

Now I have some med training being I was an EMT for a few year's before my injury. Anyway I could tell looking at the ct from the disk that there wasn't any bone material. There had been some before however. So, now I am just sitting her worrying about what will happen next. I wanted to get the first surgery and recover then back to work. Never happened.

I have tried to contact other doctors but no one will see me as I have a fusion already. All I know for sure it the pain is real and so is the leg numbness and weakness. I have a 40% strength loss as of last test. I wondered for the longest time if the screws from the fusion could have been running some nerves causing my leg issue. I can't drive because sitting hurts. Seems to make my back swell where the screws are. If I stay on my side I'm OK pain wise but leg is moving all night just to try and keep that fatigued feeling away so sleep is few and far between. I took lyrica and it didn't help me much. Took some others too and nodda.

Bothers me most is I have no idea what's going on in there and when I call office I'm told have to wait till apt. I wanna know what's wrong and what choices I have to fix it. I know I hate having the screws in there and rods because the impression can be seen and when I sit on any chair with a back it hurts.

Anyone else had similar issues?
What was the fix?
How long was recovery? Any info would be helpful. I'm not a patient personand sitting by waiting a week for an appt is making me insane. Here it is 5:30 am and I can't sleep. Just can't get comfortable.
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Comments

  • A revision of a failed fusion is just that...a re-do of the fusion. There must be a reason why the fusion failed and no bone grew. There are things they can do to improve the growth of bone (bone stimulator, etc.).

    I understand the impatience, for sure! But better to get to sit down and get a clear answer.

    While you are waiting for your appointment, make a list of questions for the Dr.. I always make a list , and I usually think of more questions over a couple or 3 days. Research, research, research failed fusions, etc, so that you can form better and intelligent questions.

    Let us know how it goes. Don't get discouraged. You are not alone.
  • has the fusion definitely failed ? because having a redo is something you want to avoid if you can maybe you need a fresh pair of eyes on your problem ?its hard to answer your many questions with any accuracy as I can see you're desperate for answers !if I were you I would get another opinion before you elect to have any more surgery .as I am sure you now know that recovery is a lengthy process and if you're experiencing problems in your lower extremities this can be hard to deal with surgically and your only other option may be with strong medication long term and that's not nice either .I hope you can get some answer from the medical world beware of over optimistic consultants and try not to get too down about your present situation there are many out there going through the very same or similar as your good self
    KB
  • AllieO2000AAllieO2000 Posts: 49
    edited 08/01/2014 - 11:35 AM
    At 11 months post op from an ALIF, I was diagnosed with a failed fusion. There was only a small, small amount of bone growth. I was prescribed a bone growth stimulator. This is one of the new ones that you only wear 30 minutes a day. After three months, my CT shows that there is sufficient bone growth to call it a successful fusion. This was great news as the plan was to go back in and add rods/screws. I do have some issues with the disks above and below (fusion L4/L5), but I'm able to operate without pain meds after having a spinal injection at L3/L4. There will be surgeries in my future, but every week and month that goes by means improvements in technologies. I'm not going to worry about that until I'm back to the point of having constant pain that requires medication. So my recommendation - unless there is evidence that the instrumentation has shifted or broken, get a bone growth stimulator (and use it as recommended). Avoid Advil and those medications that work against bone growth. And keep moving forward. A positive attitude is very helpful.

    Good luck!
  • Turns out that the fusion seems to be okay but l5-s1 is done. They want to go in and take the rods and screws out of the l4-l5 and put a spacer in between l5-s1 and cage. So I will have another cut on my side and more marks on my back from the machine to remove the screws and another below my navel.
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