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Back Surgery & The Elderly

MET1963MMET1963 Posts: 3
edited 12/09/2014 - 4:50 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello Everyone,

I am writing this on behalf of my Father - age 81 & 1/2

He's considering getting a Lumbar Fusion surgical procedure done.

He had a fusion done about 12 years ago and it's stopped his pain
then up till the past year or so.

He is also now a cancer survivor having had chemo to treat Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

The chemo was completed almost 2 years ago.

I am afraid that he may not be young enough to be able to handle this surgery
at this late stage of his life: anesthesia fears (POCD), infection fears and all the
other usual and major things that can go wrong. He gets a major cold after getting
an annual flu shot, so I question the ability of his immune system.

Am I being paranoid? Is this something that is frequently successful on elderly people?

Thank you all for any feedback...



  • 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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    Spine-Health or any of its medical doctors/staff/owners.

    My wife has been in the medical field for over 37 years and has been part of the Ethics committee. They look at the humanistic value of surgery, the value on life, the quality of life and much more. One thing they also look at is the age of a patient.

    Surgery, any surgery can present its problems and associated problems. The person undergoing these surgeries has to be physically and emotionally prepared for them. Many times, the doctors have voted to NOT perform specific function because it had no end life value.

    While many people are in the 80's are are still considered young, their actual surgery may be very successful, BUT it the potential problems that go along with surgery and anesthesia are troublesome. One of the biggest problems you will see in elderly patients having surgery is pneumonia. While young people can survive that, it can be fatal for the elderly/

    I am not saying to have your father have the surgery or not, just weigh out all the options....

    It can be a very difficult decision

    How much is he going to gain from the surgery? Will it make a difference in his day to day living?
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thank you for the insight on the pneumonia, the fact that his immune system cannot even handle a flu shot without a full blown bronchial sickness that lasts for weeks to me is a bad sign.

    His quality of life is receding. He feels pain walking any distance. He's had some success with pill combinations but says
    he doesn't like the feeling of being "doped up". If it's successful I can see that it would make a difference in a positive way
    in his day to day living. So it's tough. He loves to golf and he stopped this summer because of back pain.
  • than your father, but not much, (just turned 78). I had a major fusion (T 12-S1) in august of this year, and am doing just fine. I don't have a functioning immune system, as I am on immunosupressant therapy for a kidney related ailment. Any respiratory infection turns into pneumonia, but I avoided getting it after both of my fusion surgeries. My surgeon is aware of my immunodeficiency so he he taking precautions to protect me. Antibiotics are one of the measures, the other is that they force me to get up the day after surgery, and also use that little machine where I have to blow in to raise a ball frequently. My surgeon believes that some older patients come through better than younger ones. It depends on the individual. I fell that compared to many people my juniors, I recover from these surgeries much faster and better. Of course, I can't promise that your father will be the same. What Ron told you is true, so to have the surgery should be thought through carefully. But I wanted to show you the other possibility, when the outcome is positive. Personally, I did not want to be limited like I was before my surgery. A very personal decision. Hope everything will work out well for your father. Best wishes!
  • Thank you everyone who responded.

    After doing the pre-operational exam the doctors decided that he was NOT
    healthy enough for the surgery. The stated reasons were fear of the effects
    of anesthetic and respiratory failure. The exact things mentioned on the
    forum. Thank you all.
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