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Thoracic Surgery

JoshGCJJoshGC Posts: 5
edited 02/17/2015 - 9:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First time posting here......over 20 years of back problems including diagnosis of Anklylosing Spondylytis 16 years ago.

Last couple years have been dealing with thoracic pain so bad it causes my pulse to drop so low I have to be hospitalized without pain Meds. Have a compressed, bulging, Degerative disc in T7/8 causing bone inflammation. Have done about everything short of surgery over last two years having just completed spinal epidural a month ago that had actually made things worse.

Have an appointment scheduled with surgeon but don't even know hat kind of questions to ask or what to expect. Any and all help is greatly appreciated!



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • JoshGCJJoshGC Posts: 5
    edited 02/17/2015 - 9:45 AM
    Having a hard time finding much in the way of thoracic surgical information so any and all experiences are greatly appreciated .

    Thanks you!!!
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,806
    I have a T6-7 herniated disc with annular tears from T5-T8. When you say bone inflammation, is this due to arthritis or smorls nodes ?
    The questions I would ask and have asked when dealing with the potential for thoracic spine surgury is:
    *Have they done it before and how many times and what has sucess rates been, thoracic surgury is nothing to fool around with its typically the most difficult part of spine to operate on
    *Is there a minimally invasive option or do they have to remove rib
    *what is the recovery time and expectations after surgury
    *what kind of conservative things could we attempt to avoid this surgury
    *are we sure this disc is the pain generator, would we do discogram prior to surgury
    *could I be worse after surgury
    *could this heal on its own
    *do you ( surgeon ) recommend surgury for this

    Keep in mind these are what I have asked for my situation, but I eventually had good luck with epidural after many attempts, the discogram before surgury found a tear that we treated with great success. Thoracic surgury , esp fusion, is a beast from the doctors I discussed it with, I would only have it done with surgeon who has done many. I traveled to chicago and spoke with surgeon about some minimally invasive procedures that I would have tried first. Each case is different, but this type of surgury needs multiple opinions and alot of information in your hands before going through with it. Above all you need to be reasearching it and educating yourself since it is so hard to find people that have had it or doctors that have done it. In my exp your typical spine orthopedist/neurosurgeon was not who I would choose for this surgury, I found the better credentialed doctors were much more comfortable and experienced with thoracic surgury.
    I dont mean to scare you but my initial consult they were going to remove a rib, deflate my lungs and move organs to fuse T6-7. Looked at year minimal for healing time, I was very motivated to avoid that or find minimally invasive way to manage. We know now they would have fused the disc that was not the primary pain generator as the disc above it with annular tear was, thankful surgeon did discogram prior.

    May want to post your topic under thoracic forum here, I know we have a few members who had surgury in thoracic spine. You could do a search through the topic and find old info on it.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • Itsautono, thank you for the insight. I guess I am at a point that I have to have something done as I can't continue to live like this. I haven't had much of a life the last couple years and only take enough pain meds to keep me out of the hospital and working enough to maintain insurance, otherwise, all my time is spent trying to cope with the pain that radiates through my chest like an alien is trying to pop out. Never thought I'd be excited for surgery but having span the gambit of meds, injections, acupuncture, stimulation therapy, hydro therapy, core strengthing and I'm worse than ever......I'll do whatever it takes to get my pain lower than an 8.

    All the best and thank you so much for the info!!!!!
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,806
    No problem. When you have exhausted the conservative measures, have no quality of life , educated yourself about problems and pro/cons for surgury and put yourself in hands of qualified surgeon you can feel better about making the next step. I wish you good luck , let us know what doctor says at consult.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • Will do. Hoping that Friday is the beginning of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel!
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