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Single fusion or multiple fusion

I am a new member. I have experienced varying degrees of low back pain for about two years now. I have numbness in the right leg and down to my foot. Some periods of excruciating pain in my calf, outer knee area or outer ankle area which has "shut down" any physical activity at times. I have taken my dog for a walk, gotten to the corner and been in so much leg and foot pain that I wasn't certain if I could make it back home. I have been through physical therapy, rest, epidural steroid injection and the pain continues to grow in intensity. an MRI shows spondylolithesis and DDD with some lumbar stenosis. I went to a spine specialist who recommended a multi level fusion with an anterior/posterior approach. A second opinion confirmed the need for surgery, but only recommended one level of fusion: L4-L5 and said that he believes that the spondyl. at L4-L5 is the cause of the pain, so he recommends posterior transforaminal interbody fusion. I don't know what to do. I have read pluses for both and a negative for the multiple level as they don't offer a high level of success. I am in so much pain I just want to move forward.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Have you had a Discogram? I had a 3 level fusion last year which I would claim to be a success. The Discogram clearly showed all 3 needed fused.
    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
  • and prior to the fusion a discography and medical imaging should be done to establish the condition of your spine and bloods to determine your general well being and to rule out any abnormalities please don't go in to a fusion thinking that it will be a miracle cure to your pain a fusions main function is to stabilise your spine if you gain any pain relief that will be a bonus a fusion will take many months even years to recover from and you will require help in the early stages of recovery .I am many months in recovery from my fusion and I am still very much in pain but my spine is now stable .the operation was hell and recover even worse so think about it and do your research make sure you find someone that has had plenty of experience to do your operation .
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