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Are discectomies the gateway drug to fusion?

Hi Boardies!

I'm scheduled for my first L4/L5 microdiscectomy on Saturday morning, and I think I might have overdosed on forum reading, as I'm pretty scared out of my wits at the moment :|

Even though my pain has been going down a bit, with an 18mm herniation my NS says that there are no indications that I will spontaneously recover, so I'm fully locked in at the moment.

One of my biggest fears here is that having this surgery will lead me down a road where a fusion will be inevitable, and I'm wondering if there has been any long term research done that can perhaps put my fears at rest.

I've read so many stories of failed MD's because of scar tissue or folks simply needing fusions down the line because the MD destabalised the disc and left it in a compromised state etc etc.

I know obviously everyone is different, but I could really use a reality check here if possible.

Hit me up!


  • I had my microdiscectomy on L5-S1 back in June, and right now we're looking at the possibility of doing a fusion because I just haven't had the great recovery I was expecting. But everyone's different. My friend also had an MD done (L4-L5 like you) about two years ago and he's been perfectly fine since then. Besides him I've met three others who never had to get a fusion after their MDs. There's really no way of knowing how well you'll recover after the surgery. But if you're fairly healthy, and your MRI doesn't show a lot of damage elsewhere, you stand a fair chance of not needing a fusion for the time being (or at least, that's what my PMR doc said).
    Good Luck!
    Clara Petrofsky
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    Dear Mister Boddy

    If your pain is going away... why have the surgery at all???? Lots of people live with herniated discs for years and years.... as long as there is no pain or other complications. Once your surgeon cuts up your disc doing an MD there is no going back... the disc will NOT regrow... only scar over. Your doctor is a NS... he is paid to do surgeries... no surgey... no pay. Get a second opinion... !!! That's my hit...
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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