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Please help!!! Considering Axialif for L5-S1, out patient surgery what to expect

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,607
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am strongly leaning towards Axialif surgery for L5-S1, what can I expect for after the surgery... what do I need.... how long will I be "laying around' and Eating bon-bons.

My doctor will be doing this as out-patient ( no overnight stay in the hospital) and going thru the back.

Is it normal to have NO hospital stay.

Also my doctor says that sometime in the near future (3-5 years) I will have to address L4-5. Should I wait or have a two level fusion at this time.

Has anyone had any experience with the Axialif surgery for the L5-S1 and if so what are your thoughts did you any special equipment, stay over night in hospital, how long were you down. Anything you can tell me would be a help.

Thanks to all who read this and to all that responds.



  • Hi Lili.

    Welcome to the forum. I have been around since March and to tell you the truth I don't remember seeing anything about your type of surgery. Even as far as outpatient surgery I saw it mentioned only a few times, maybe in relation to a laminectomy (not sure about that). Is your surgeon a NS? Just curious, because when I saw one just before my fusion surgery, he suggested an X-stop but from what he said it was kind of a temporary solution (as he put it, it will not cure the problem but will ease the symptoms). Then I went to see an OS, and he suggested the fusion. After lots of research and talking to different people I decided to go with fusion. I am glad I did, because it went rather smoothly and now my symptoms are gone, plus I had no intentions of having another surgery soon. But everybody's case is different, so ultimately it is your decision. I would consult some other doctors though before deciding one way or another.

    Good luck!

    Kin :) ;) ;)

  • hey lili,

    i too have never heard of your type of surgery and being outpatient. really look into everything before you make a final decision especially that you may need more than just the one level. good luck!!
  • AxiaLIF stands for Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion - a new, alternative approach to traditional fusion procedures.
    The surgeon accesses your low back through a 1-inch incision next to your tailbone. The center of the diseased disc is removed, and bone growth material is inserted in its place. This material helps stimulate bone growth over time in order to “fuse.”

    The AxiaLIF implant is inserted to distract the two vertebrae, meaning that any height lost from Degenerative Disc Disease is restored to its original, healthy disc height.

    Your physician may or may not add posterior hardware for further stabilization of your spine after the AxiaLIF procedure has been performed.

    The procedure is minimally invasive, so the scars are very small and the procedure carries less risks than a traditional “open” surgery. AxiaLIF does not cut through important tissue or nerves; therefore, the healing process is quicker and there is less post-operative pain commonly associated with traditional fusion surgery.

    The AxiaLIF procedure time is about 45 minutes on average, and patients have been released from the hospital in as little as 24 hours, returning to work in as little as 15 days.

    Hope this helped.

    Christina :)
  • ... but here's a pretty informative website:

    Good luck to you!

  • Holy cow I can't imagine!!!!!!!!! :?
  • They can only do L5-S1 this way Im pretty sure
  • Both my husband and I have been back and forth, over and under, and all other ways regarding the Axialif surgery. My doctor has done injections and discectomy and has been treating me for about 10 years. He believes in the conservative approach. I haven't found fault with any of his past procedures. I like the idea of being conservative rather than do everything at once.

    The discectomy was done in 2000 on l5-S1 and that is the disc I will have the Axialif done ( the disc is gone and I have (pretty much) bone on bone.

    There will be one 1/4" (?) screw that will space the disc area then 2 guide screws placed on either side and then the fusion material will inserted all of this done thru an approximately 1" incision.

    I was hoping someone on here had had it done.

    Thank you for all your responses.

  • Lili

    I looked at this procedure in January. I had a surgeon evaluate my MRI to see if I was a candidate. In the meantime I was also seeking opinions from other NS and OS. I ended up going with the 2 level fusion. I was ready to get my problem fixed and I needed to have both levels done. It is correct that they can only do this procedure on L5/S1. I decided to go ahead and have the fusion since both levels were causing me pain according to my discogram.

    Knowing that I needed both levels made this decision easier for me. If I had only needed the one level I would have seriously considered it.

    The reading I did, indicated that the recovery was much quicker. I was able to locate some studies online which discussed patient outcome. Try doing a search and see what you come up with.

    Good luck making your decision. That for me was the most difficult part.
  • 5kids,

    I thought the Axialif 2 was just FDA approved. Did you have the actual Axialif procedure? I was just on a website for Mount Sanie (sp) hospital (went thru YAHOO) to view a Axialif 2 surgery. It was for L4-5/L5-S1 . It was pretty cool.

    I know that the majority of my pain (80%) is L5-S1 and knowing that new procedures are coming soon, do I want to permanately fuse a disc that could be saved in 4 years?

    If the fusion goes as it should and pain is relieved, what are the restrictions of movement? bending from the waist, turning, etc???

    I want that crystal ball back, the one I sold in that yard sale, when I was young and healthy. :)

  • HI Lili, I too am considering this, I live in Australia and there is one surgeon here that does it. I havent seen him yet but he has my films. It seems to me to be a good , non invasive treatment for a disc that wont get better by any other treatment but its not that well known, particularly over here so I am concerned about that. Please let me know if you have had the procedure of have discovered more about it.

  • Mark,

    I have spoken to my pain management doctor regarding this surgery and he tells me this is a minimally invasive surgery and like with any other back surgery it either works or it doesn't.

    I have around and around with this type of surgery and I will be meeting with my surgeon on Wednesday to find out what I will need to pre-op and post-op and schedule this surgery. I would much rather have the least invasive surgery than to have by back opened up and experience weeks of pain.

    I have seen all the videos concerning this procedure and I honestly believe this is the surgery for me.

    I'll let you know what the doc says on Wednesday.

  • Lili I will be following this thread with great interest.

    My ns just suddenly retired after getting kicked in the head by one of his horses. He no longer feels comfortable cutting on someone. Sorry for his terrable accident. Now it's time to look for another ns. I'm really intriged by this AXIALIF surgery. I'm not planning on doing anything until winter when my work slows way down & can afford the time off. So PLEASE keep us informed of the outcome.
  • I went to my surgeon last week and he wanted a new MRI. I asked for an open MRI as I am claustrophobic, I was told that open MRI's do not have the resolution that closed MRI's have :jawdrop: now what... I was given prescription for 3 valium and thank goodness for those. Those MRI tubes are tight..

    Anyway, after viewing the new MRI it shows that I do have two bulging discs and one is pressing on the nerve that affects my left side with pain and tingling down the left leg and foot.. right side is not as bad.

    I now am having the TLIF and am scheduled for surgery on Oct. 7th. I must admit is a relief to have the surgery date set. My doctor says that after 12 years of this getting progressivly worse and doing everything that i possible could. According to my doctors I will have relief from the tingling and leg pain and the pain in my back at butt will be diminished.

    So just as I wrapped my mind with have a minimal invasive surgery I now have to have 2 discs fused and a hospital stay of at least 3 days.

    Now my questions have become what to expect for TLIF surgery and post-op stuff!!
    :''( =((


  • Lili - sorry about the major surgery vs. minimal news.

    As far as post op must haves, go look under the post that phatswimmer just posted, I just posted the HUGE list that I was given before my surgery when I asked the same question.
  • You'll be in alot of pain immediately after surgery but you'll probably have a self administering IV pain pump which usually helps a great deal. There's a huge difference in recovery time for a regular fusion. Some ppl get along excellent ad some ppl have some problems. You will have to have someone help take care of you for at least a couple weeks.

    Good luck with your surgery,
    Christina :)
  • My surgeon was going over my case again the last few days and he is recommending an AxiaLIF. After discussing it with him at some length and reading up on the procedure all day today I think this is the way I want to go.

    My surgery is scheduled for 9/23/08. I was all set to be in the hospital for 2 - 4 days and out of work for 6 plus weeks. If what he is says and what I have read is true it sounds like he will discharge me the day after surgery and I could be back to work within three weeks.

    He said he has had good success with the procedure. My fingers are crossed.
  • 9 hours to go before the AxiaLIF. :)
  • I hope everything goes very well for you and that you recover quickly!!
  • I was in and out of the hospital in 24 hours. I have very little pain. I've had hangovers that produced more pain than this surgery. The surgeon said to bend a bit and I find it very easy to do. The first mornig I was home the cat puked on the bathroom carpet and I was able to clean it up. :O

    I've been walking inside quite a bit. No walker or cane is needed. It's been pouring rain so I can't go out yet. Honestly I feel I could walk a mile. I feel like I could drive. I just hope the surgery works and I can get back to a normal life style.
  • Hi,

    I was on this site about 6 months ago to discuss an ongoing back problem. I have learned a lot since then.

    About 3 years ago, suffered a massive disc rupture at L2-L3 due to an accident and had a micro-discectomy. The symptom was loss muscle use of my left quadracep.

    After the surgery, I had a lot of lower back pain, and while the left quad was now working (but due to 2 months of atrophy, needed rehab) but the lower back pain never went away.

    One day about 3-4 months after the surgery, I leaned over to write something down on a table top, and it felt like I had been shot in the back. I fell to the ground. My left leg was pulsing pain, and my left foot was numb.

    Long-story short, I had pinched a nerve in my L5-S1 pretty hard, spent months in pain, and ultimately had a corisone shot in the area which helped the inflamed nerve settle down, but now, I have continuous back pain and occasional numbness in the left foot (two outer toes, bottom of the heel)

    I should note, that in the process of recovery, I have been doing a lot of core/trunk exercises and found that stretching my back when its in pain will result in a "pop" in the lower back which immediately removes the pain. Unfortunately, within a short period of sitting/standing, the pain comes back. I cannot drive, sit in a chair, or lift anything more than a few pounds without my foot going numb.

    So, many MRI, xrays, CTscans, etc later, it turns out that I have spondethelisis in the L5-S1 and am looking at AxialIF.

    I was hoping to see recovery stories in this thread. I saw a couple of people were looking at it, or had it done, but they disappeared. Maybe good news?
  • I had an L5/S1 axialif done on 11 March 2009.I am nearly 59 now, and had a lamonectomy 22 years ago. That procedure worked well for many years, but probably caused the severe disc degeneration I ended up with at the same level. I try to keep pretty fit, but was finding that I was increasingly getting episodes of back pain. I was told that there was nothing to be done, and that I would simply have to thole the pain. I accepted this. In Britain surgery is generally not recomended for disc de-generation.
    Eventually though, I had an MRI, which showed that the levels above L5 were, apart from some age related wear and tear, in good condition.
    After much deliberation I took the decision to have the axialif done. It is now 4 weeks post op.
    I have made a very speedy recovery from the op in general,and have probably overdone things in my enthusiasm to get back to normal. I am trying to be more conservative now! I have had trouble with sciatica, which came on after a week or so post-op. My surgeon says that this could be due to stretching of the nerve, rather then compression. The disc space is restored as part of the procedure, and so the root nerve can be pulled, and apparently there could be some scar tissue from the previous op all those years before.
    Has anyone else had this experience? Meanwhile I am trying to be very optimistic as to the long terms outcome, but I can say that axialif would be my first choice if offered against open back surgery!
    I also had the facet screws.
    I hope to start physiotherapy around six weks and report that I am going from strength to strength. I gather that axialif is not the ideal operation for everyone though

  • I am very interested in how you are doing. I am scheduled for surgery 4/7/09
  • I am sorry I haven't been in touch before your op, and I hope it went well. I have continued to have problems with pain and numbness in my buttock, and down the back of my thigh and calf. My 6 week x ray was good in that all the ironmongery was in the right place, and I hadn't broken or bent the rod/screws. I am getting stronger, feeling less tired, and finding sitting more comfortable. I felt a little like a trussed chicken for a while,but that has eased a lot now as well. My surgeon says that my recovery is about where he would expect at this time. He still thinks that the sciatica will go away. I have found it difficult not getting depressed because of course I am worried that the operation is not going to be completely successful. I think that the blurb on the web sites tends to make you think that you will be swinging from the chandeliers in no time at all, and this certainly hasn't been my experience. I was hoping to get back to windsurfing in three months, and now I think that is highly unlikely. I suppose everyone has different experiences, and there is very little feedback anywhere on people's genuine experiences with the procedure as far as I can see. What I would love to hear is someone saying "Yes, I felt like this for a while, but now I feel great!" Any way, please let me know how you fare, and I wish you all the best.

  • Hi Grundy,
    Did you have the butt pain & numbness prior to surgery?
  • So Eddie fill us in. How well did recovery go? How long to resume life/work? Did you get complete resolution to your problem?

    Very interested in hearing about your situation and getting more feedback from Grundy too.

    A friend of my mothers got an axialif done and she says she feels great. Highly recommends it and the neuro who did the procedure. I have to call her and talk about specifics. But it is 1 outcome that was very positive.

  • Thank you for the query, and I am delighted to hear you are doing well. I had terrible leg pain down my right leg prior to a lamonectomy at L5/s1 22 years ago. This was caused at that time by a herniated disc and pressure on the root nerve, and the op more or less did the trick for a long time, although my back has always been weak since.
    I did not have the pain immediately before this op, but I did have it during last summer.
    I have to say that I am not having much fun with it at the moment! Please tell us how your recovery went, and your experiences generally. Did you have the facet screws fixed as well?
  • Unfortunately my Axialif fusion surgery was a failure in every way. I woke up from the surgery with terrible shooting nerve pains in my left butt, as well as numbness. My entry wound was on the right, and quite a bit bigger than the 1 inch incision they said I'd have (more like 2 1/2). This has left me me severe pain and numbness in the left butt which persists to this day, never had any pain here before the surgery. Also none of my leg & foot pain has been resolved, and lower back is much more painful than pre-surgery. In the post-op xrays & MRI's I've seen its apparent the surgeon didn't open up the disk space at all, and one of the facet screws is too close to the spinal nerves and may be causing much of my butt pain/numbness.
    I'm also facing the likelihood that my fusion didn't take, and am consulting a few NY Orthopedic surgeons to get their opinions and come up with a course of action. I wish I had never heard of the procedure and had gone with a more tried and true method.
  • Thanks for the feedback. It's hard to find people who have had it done. My mom's friend thinks this surgeon is awesome and the axialif worked great. Thing is I believe most people who have had it done are not posting success on forums. This forum is filled with a lot more people who had failed surgery. Which seems to be typical of medical type forums.

    Looks questionable as to whether the procedure or your surgeon is questionable. Axialif was supposed to get your spacing open and where it belongs. Poor placement of screws seems to be a common mistake.

    Hope you get some real resolution.
  • Monday, May 4th will be the three week post op Axialif mark for me. I am proud to say it has been a wonderful experience. I have a 1.5 in incision that was glued rather than stitched or stapled. I have one other incision in the buttock area that is also approx. an inch long. I have had no problems with either cuts. I ended up staying two nights in the hospital rather than one as planned but this was due to a drop in my blood pressure. I was up and moving the day after my procedure with no problems. All my pre surgery pain was gone! No leg pain,no back pain, NONE! I was just sore from the surgery and laying in an uncomfortable bed. My boyfriend seemed to think this was the perfect time for him to pop the question so during my hospital stay we became engaged! AFter getting home, I had assistance showering and sometimes getting upright but mainly it wqas because my fiance insisted on it. I've been cooking dinner now for the past two weeks. I'm really thankful my doctor did such a wonderful job with me.
  • Monday, May 4th will be the three week post op Axialif mark for me. I am proud to say it has been a wonderful experience. I have a 1.5 in incision that was glued rather than stitched or stapled. I have one other incision in the buttock area that is also approx. an inch long. I have had no problems with either cuts. I ended up staying two nights in the hospital rather than one as planned but this was due to a drop in my blood pressure. I was up and moving the day after my procedure with no problems. All my pre surgery pain was gone! No leg pain,no back pain, NONE! I was just sore from the surgery and laying in an uncomfortable bed. My boyfriend seemed to think this was the perfect time for him to pop the question so during my hospital stay we became engaged! AFter getting home, I had assistance showering and sometimes getting upright but mainly it wqas because my fiance insisted on it. I've been cooking dinner now for the past two weeks. I'm really thankful my doctor did such a wonderful job with me.
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