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Moving on Over (Scheduled for PLIF on July 24)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:18 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi Everyone,
I decided it was time to join the new forum. I have only been on the old forum for about a week and I am finding it to be very informative and supportive. So once again, I am an RN here in smokey Central California. I have had a "bad back" since age 17 when I jumped off a counter. In April 2006 I began having right hip pain that radiated down my leg. After hip Xrays, lumbar Xrays, and MRI, I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis L4 on L5 secondary to bil. spondylolysis(pars defects). My disc at L4-5 is desiccated and I have moderate facet arthrosis L4-5, and L5-S1. My pars fractures are "marginally unstable" according to flexion/extension Xrays. I've had 4 LESI's the last of which didn't help at all. In Feb/March my pain switched to the left hip and leg for unknown reason. Now I am scheduled for PLIF L4-5 with instrumentation on July 24. I am soooo scared and have been considering cancelling it, or putting it off for a while at least. I do water PT on my own at the YMCA, and I do feel a little better. I am however still limping when I walk due to this left hip pain. I live on Ibuprofen 800mg which I will have to give up for at least 4 months with the surgery. I also take T#3 and Soma. Sometimes I think maybe it is not bad enough to consider surgery since I am still managing to work. Luckily I work in mother/baby so don't have to do much lifting. My surgeon says I'll be able to return to nursing after my fusion. He was recommended to me by my nurse friend who works in the neuro-icu. He prefers to do the open procedure instead of the minimally invasive. I will be getting a BAK Peek cage (Polar technique)and titanium rods and pedicle screws. I am very interested to hear any info and opinions on open vs. minimally invasive surgery. My surgeon said he can do the less invasive surgery if I want, but he hasn't found any benefit in his patients from open surgery. I told him I want him to use the technique he is most skilled at. Well glad to be here on the new forum and I hope everyone is having a good day.


  • welcome,good luck with you surgury.
  • Welcome to this forum and best of luck with your surgery. YOu sure came to the right place Plus the support here you'll find a wealth of information on this site.

  • Cali-Sue,

    Good luck with your PLIF. I too will be having a PLIF L4-S1 eventually. Right now my insurance declined saying it is not medically necessary......

    I asked my NS about minimally invasive and he says he does his minimally as he can. That most of his patients are up and walking the first day and out of hospital by day 3. He said the only difference is a 6" scar rather than 2 -2" scars.


  • I too am having a PLIF l4-s1 scheduled on 7/8. I am hoping for min invasive. I was orig. sched for only the l5-s1 and decided to do both levels and it is up in the air as the whether he will be able to complete the surgery min invasive or open me all the way up. I am hoping for min inv. for the sooner recovery and as he explained to me in the end he has not seen a difference in the fusion.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck with your decision.

  • Hi Sue

    We have almost the same diagnosis. I had the spondy due to same reason with pars. My discs were squashed and had not much left. I used to be a nurse before I started staying home with my kids. Not sure if I will ever go back but not because of my back!

    I had ALIF. My surgeon said I was perfect candidate and he felt it was the best way to fix my problem. All docs do things differently, most important thing, I think, is to have someone you trust and do what they are most comfortable doing.

    Take care and keep us posted on your recovery!
  • Welcome and you are definitely in the right place. I'm sorry I don't have any answers for you!! But I wanted you to know that I wish you all the very best with your surgery and your recovery!!
    Keep us posted on how things go.

    Take Care,
  • Thanks for the welcome, I am learning a lot from the site. It is good to know others have made it through these back surgeries.
  • Lotus, thanks for the welcome. I love your quote. It fits me to a tee. I am a chronic worrier, so not a good person to be having these back issues. I am trying to re-schedule my surgery date because my kids will be on vacation with their dad at that time, and I want to be home so I can worry about them separately from worrying about me, if that makes any sense :?
  • Hi Julie, thanks for posting. I am sorry to hear your insurance company is giving you problems. Mine has been cooperative. They are probably tired of paying for my LESI'S. I think my surgeon is the best in town, but I have wondered if I should try to go to UCSF or UC Davis or somewhere with a spine center. They would be more likely to have the latest techniques available. My surgeon says he has done minimally invasive fusions and will if I want him to, but he prefers open. I figure I'm safer if he does what he is used to. I am still struggling with this decision, hoping it is the right one. So many fears about surgery: death, disability, pain, not being able to work, etc. (I tend to think negatively, which is something I am always working on and praying about.) My surgery is only one level, so I am hoping that keeps the incision smaller than 6 inches. My surgeon has been instrumental in bringing lots of new technology to my place of employment including the O-Arm and some type of computer assisted brain mapping neuro-surgery. So he's not exactly in the dark ages or anything.
    Hope you get your insurance issues resolved so you can get on with things. Take care, Sue
  • Hi Mel, thanks for responding. I watched a minimally invasive fusion on the internet. It was very informative with lots of cool diagrams as well as the video. You can watch it at http://www.or-live.com/genesishealth/1677/
    They use a retractor that is like a tube that opens, it is called a Quadrant. They put the pedicle screws in percutaneously (through the skin, using a C-arm xray machine to check their placement). I've been researching and looking up everything I can find about my dx and surgery. (maybe too much) Less muscle damage sounds good, and yet I also like the idea of my surgeon being able to see what he is doing REALLY well. Hopefully he only opens me up as wide as is necessary :) Thanks for the response, good luck with your surgery, and keep us posted. Sue
  • Hello 5kids, I told my surgeon to do the method he has the most experience with. I asked him how many PLIF's he has preformed and he said so many he couldn't even count, so that sounded good. He did say he prefers anterior fusion, but with my back he needs to go in posteriorly because of my unstable pars fractures. I think maybe it is because I am too chubby ;) (working hard on that one, down 30lbs so far).
    So, are you happy with your results, was it worth it? I have read the good and the bad stories (scarey). This whole process has taken so long that I am quite a bit better now, but still with left leg pain and limping. I wonder if I should wait until it gets really bad again, cause I am sure it will eventually. Then again, maybe it is better to have surgery when your nerve isn't so intensely flared up. Not sure....
    Thanks for the info, Sue
  • Beth, thanks for the welcome and well wishes. I can't help but think you could have called yourself Misery in Missouri :) I have a friend who's in-laws are in Missouri and every year she travels there. She calls it Misery
    Hope you are well, thanks again, Sue
  • Hello, my MRI sounds a little like yours and I don't understand it. I do know that it hurts and I am not sure if all of mine is due to arthritis or from injuries. I wish you the best and I am glad you have a good support system because I think that helps so much.

    Welcome...this place is wonderful and so helpful!!

  • I have the desiccated too. What in the world does this mean? :?
  • Dessicated means dried up, I looked that one up a while back. My disc space between 4 and 5 is very short compared to the others. My symptoms actually follow the nerve chart for L3-4, yet it is L4-5. I think it may be because the loss of disc height is making my L3-4 nerves get pulled on. My surgeon said this is possible. My surgery is on
    L4-5 not L3-4 at all, so hope it works.
  • Good Luck on your surgery. I hope so much it helps!!!

  • Pars defects can be from DDD, but in younger people they are more likely from injury. Not sure which category I fall into. I have even read that they can be congenital. You often don't know you have them until years of wear and tear make the disc start to slide out from the others and ouch, pinch something :O
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