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L5-S1 Fusion Complications a Year Later. Need Advice. Doc Won't See Me.

brokenlumbarbbrokenlumbar Posts: 34
edited 09/10/2015 - 6:21 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Anyone ever been abandoned by their surgeon after surgery?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    edited 03/12/2015 - 1:58 PM
    I had c4/5 fusion surgery. I went back for follow up appointment & all he wanted to do was brag about how good my incision looked & what a good job he did! Several months later & no relief in any of my presurgery symptoms. I made several attempts to contact him. He never called me back. They wouldn't give me an appointment to come in & see him. Finally I got to talk to his PA. She informed me that he was no longer my doctor. I asked why & was told his job was to perform surgery on me & he did. They didn't care at all how I was feeling. So I had to find another spine doctor. He took an X-ray & determined that my neck didn't fuse. I ended up having a 2nd fusion surgery. I feel maybe sometimes it isn't always best to pick the most sought after surgeon in your area? I also think since I'm not a famous athlete, he didn't feel my health was as important? I would suggest to find another spine doctor? I hope you find some answers.
  • In my case this isn't typical surgeon behavior. My surgeon has stuck by my side 2 years and 3 surgeries later and I'm still having problems and she still hasn't left me. I Currently have a C1-C3 fusion and have been having worsening arm symptoms. That being said there are surgeons who do their job and once that job is over they are finished with you also. Many doctors when going through Med school make an oath that they will do no harm and with surgery there is some risk with that. Seeing a non surgical spine specialist is a good idea so that you know what's going on and if surgery is the only option you can see another surgeon. So sorry this happened to you. Good luck!
  • Sometimes bad bedside manner comes along with the process unfortunately. Its in surgeons nature to be arrogant and perfectionist, and when that goes another way, some cannot deal with the fact that they couldn't fix the problem...eventho back surgeries are so iffy with success stories anyways...most are only 50/50. I would just get all my records and go see someone else...don't dwell on it or let it make you upset. Just keep moving forward to get the problem fixed...
    Spine-Health Moderator 
    Ankylosing Spondylitis
    Bulging discs T12-L3
    Annular Tears with Disc Extrusion L4-S1
    Moderate Central Canal Stenosis
    Moderate Foraminal Stenosis
    Enlarged Facet Joints/Ligaments
    Spinal enthesopathy
    L4-L/5 PLIF with cages, rods, screws 2/15 

  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    I am so sorry to hear that you need another surgery. What a shame.
    I hope your new doctor can fix you up quick & soon you'll be feeling better.
    It is scary that there are these kind of doctors out there operating on people's spines & then walking away from them! I one stay believe that my first high profile doctor didn't want a failed fusion on his record?
    Good luck to you & keep us posted.
  • Thanks everyone. I have found a wonderful non-surgical Dr that is going to attempt to figure things out.
  • So after a few months of seeing a couple of different docs, I need a revision surgery. I have zero fusion taking place. Should be hearing from insurance and moving forward shortly.
  • akanaeaakanae Posts: 4
    edited 09/12/2015 - 7:41 AM
    I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease at age 23. I had my first fusion C4-C5 in 1995. It was an immediate success. 20 years later, I could no longer stand the pain in my lower back and sought out a new surgeon in my area. I found one that was highly recommended. My first surgery with him was a lamonectomy L5-S1. Another immediate success!! I felt so well, I over did it after my surgery and subsequently needed a fusion L5-S1.
    It was a very slow and miserable recovery. He is very conservative on pain meds and I was in agony through most of my recovery. I continued have intense pain but he would disregard this and tell me that I needed to learn how to live with the pain. The last time I went to him, 2012, he told me that there was nothing he could do for me and that my fusion looked fine. He basically told me to go to hell. I was still on heavy pain meds (from my PCP) and unable to work or live a normal life. I did have some good days so I was reluctant to find another surgeon. I was frozen with fear of repeating a miserable surgery and recovery time of 6 months with the possible out come of being worse. I did finally go to another surgeon, (who knew my surgeon well) and assured me that my current surgeon was giving me the correct information. (They are so cautious to go against another surgeon buddy's treatment)
    Fast forward to 6 months ago.....My PCP has heard of a new Neurosurgeon in our area. She is reportedly the best of the best and some local surgeons are sending their patients to her for surgeries they can not perform. I made an appt with her and she was amazed at my condition. My previous fusion did not take and I was riddled with arthritis. I had significant damage at L4-L5 and some mobility in the spine. Our best plan of treatment is to go in through the front and clean out the arthritis and remove and disc left in L4-L5, then turn me over and add screws and rods. As most of you know, the recovery is long and hard, but I should have a much better quality of life after the recovery time. YAHOO!!!!!!! After so many years of being blown off by my surgeon and living in pain......HOPE. Nothing can replace hope!
    Surgery is tentatively scheduled for October 13. Since this will take 2 surgeons and 8 hours, we have to find a surgeon that can work on moving my internal organs out of the way so she can get to my spine from the front and then, put it all back in place. I've been told that the surgery might be as late as end of October to early November. To add insult to injury, (Pun intended), I over did it one day and I now have a bulging disc pressing on my spinal column. The time of good days are over until my surgery. I haven't heard yet if this is going to add L3 to my list of fusions or if it will be a discectomy added to her to do list.
    The moral of the story is yes, I have been dumped by a surgeon, who didn't get the job done right and gave up on me. Just know that there are options and other doctors that do care.
    If anyone reading this is looking for a surgery buddy . I sure would like to have one. What a great idea to share experiences and milestones. No one understands what you go through unless they have gone through it as well.
    Keep us informed on your progress. I hope all goes well and you are better than ever after!!
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