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How many hours was your surgery?

saltzworksssaltzworks Posts: 1,031
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Wow, so Mel had a 7 hour surgery??!

I know we are all going to be different, but I realized that I have no idea how long (not even a ballpark) it might take for my 2 level (possibly 3 level) PLIF coming up in a week.

Could you all chime in and give us a heads up on how long your surgery was?

Is it common to have transfusions too?

And how soon before surgery do you need to donate if you are donating for yourself?

Thanks ina advance for any insight!


  • Mine was 7 1/2 hours long. Didn't seem like it though. Thought I just blinked my eyes and I was in recovery. Ask your doctor about donating your own blood before surgery. I didn't have to, but I was anemic for a while after surgery.
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Interesting thread. I am curious as well.

    My NS said they use a machine to re-circulate the lost blood so I didn't need to donate any.

    My husband who has been in denial finally asked me how long I would be under and I said it depends- anywhere from 2-7 hours. He couldn't wrap his head around that. I explained to him it depends on what the NS finds when he gets in there.

  • I am sure our answers are different on this one too, but here is my input:

    I had a posterior lumbar decompression and L3-S1 fusion with instrumentation (two rods, eight screws and an EBI bone fusion stimulator was also implanted at that time. Originally the surgeon said it will take about 3 hours, but once he opened me he saw that my S1 was in very poor shape to hold the screws, so first he had to reinforce it with some bone cement. That added another hour to the surgery time, making it a total of 4 hours.

    Prior to the surgery, the OS told me that I will not be needing a transfusion, and it turned out that I didn't, as the total blood loss was 300cc, replaced by the IV fluids.

    Good luck with your surgery.

    Kin :) :) :)
  • 7 1/2!!?

    Is that because of the ALIF - does that take longer I wonder?

    Keep the answers coming -

  • Hey Saltz!

    Variables are the entry surgeon, you and anthesia, the OS or NS , what the last pics reveal and what they find when they open you. I had an Anterior ADR the Vascular Surgeon needed 35 minutes to gut me and the ADR took just under two hours. No complications just a little bit of boney prominences to file away. I went under at 0945 and was in recovery at 1220. In room at 1540 alert and lucid.
  • I had 2 level PLIF w/laminectomy and lots of cleaning out of degenerated disc material and cyst removal. I was in OR for 4 1/2 hrs. I had a NS that opened and did the decompression/laminectomy, and then OS came in and did the ortho stuff and closed. It went by like a blink for me, but my husband went nuts in the waiting room. The worst was that they called him to the desk and told him that they were calling from the OR. He said he about passed out. He slowly walked to the phone and hesitated picking it up. He said it was the worst feeling in the world. He answered and he said it was a chipper nurse on the other end just updating him on my surgery and that things were fine. He about died! Sometimes they do that. For your husband's sake, check to see if this is a possibility so he doesn't panic. I didn't donate my blood prior to surgery. My BCBS makes you pay for this yourself. For me, it was going to cost #300 per unit, and they wanted 2. I knew from yrs of heavy bleeding prior to my hysterectomy, that I can catch up well. I did, and never needed any blood. They used the cell saver on me, so that helped. Best of luck! -Andrea
  • So, roughly 4 hours-ish?

    I know it's gonna be a quick one for me, my DH's microdiscectomy was only about 2 hours, I just want to be able to give my mother a heads up on time frame.

    My mom is the one that will be there for me - DH is in Iraq. Our youngest boy is in Kuwait, my oldest boy will be flying somewhere on the Eastern seaboard (pilot, and since my surgery was rescheduled, all the plans to be off are, well, off.) That leaves my little 6 y/o off being babysat. Yikes, I better arrange the details on that!

    I guess the Dr. will tell us more on Monday morning when we go in too - like how long he has planned for me.

  • All depends on the type of surgery and in particular what condition your surgeon finds things in when he actually cuts you open. Scans and x-rays give a pretty good indication but don't always give the full picture. My one level laminectomy and fusion at L5-S1 took 4 1/4 hours in the OR by the time my surgeon had cleaned up bone spurs and done everything that he wanted to do to deal with the severe bilateral foraminal stenosis.

    From what i have read on these forums 2 - 4 hours for a single level fusion and up to 7-8 hours for a multi level fusion is not uncommon.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • This is for my 1st micro-D:

    8am arrive at surgery center, do paperwork
    10am pre-op
    10:30 discogram begins
    12:30 transported to CT scan facility
    2:30pm return to surgery center
    3-4pm Dr.'s review scans, discuss w/ us
    4:30 pre-op for surgery
    5pm surgery begins(approx. 45 minutes)
    8pm discharged, walked out of surg center
    8:30 ate! yay! :D

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Mine took 8 hours because my NS had to clean up what my fisrt NS messed up otherwise it may have taken 6-7.

  • well...my first surgery L5-S1 microd / laminectomy was 2 hours long. In May I had a anterior/posterior fusion with plates, rods, screws and stabilization...that took a little over 6 hours. Same surgeon.
  • I think you could call the hospital and ask how long the doctor has blocked off for your case. This would give you an idea of what he is expecting, but there are always variations from the schedule. Could go quicker, could take longer.

    With my first 3 level ACDF I was in hte OR less than 2 hours. My most recent c-spine surgery was over 5 hours. It all depends on what the doc finds when he gets inside.

    Good luck Monday.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Mine was 8 hours for a 2 level fusion S1-L4. Bad for my husband but for me it seemed like a just a few seconds.
  • I was suppose to have my 360 fusion (back then front) all at once but because I lost so much blood, they waited 10 days before doing the posterior fusion. Each surgery ran 6 to 7 hours.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I had a 360 fusion L4 L5 S1 with hardware, was suppose tobe 4 hrs ended up being 71/2 hrs had to get extra hardware (not expected) called a bridge
    to hold the cage in place there was no disc to help hold it in place, so they had to get the bridge piece and then they have to register it by the serial # on the piece, they do that so if it breaks they no which piece it was and where it come from.. I know that the waiting fotr hbby was far worse then the sleeping for me....
  • PLIF, at L-3,4,5 with 2 6" titanium rods and 6 screws, and a stabilization thing in the middle. He took the pointy tip parts from the upper vertebrea (don't know what their called) cut a few of those, and made my fusion out of them, instead of my hip....It took 4 hours. AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! Wait until you wake up!!!!! I'll never forget!!! The moraphine pump didn't touch the pain!!!
  • I seem to be in the minority here. I had a 2 level ALIF L4/5 L5/S1 and it took 2 hours. I am a very small person (under 5 feet, 100 pounds) not sure if this helped with quick access. My surgeon said everthing went great. I have 2 bone grafts (cadaver) with 2 plates and 4 screws holding everything in place. I did spend at least an extra hour in recovery to get my pain under control along with BP and respirations that were really low.

    As far as the blood donation. I too had read that donation was recommended for ALIF but when I talked to my surgeon he said it would not be necessary he rarely used it. Needless to say I woke up to blood hanging and freaked out! They told me it was my own that was recaptured and given back to me. I did have problems post op with anemia but I didnt lose that much blood. I was not in good shape when I went in as far as not having much appetite, not eating much, weight loss and maybe was iron deficient when I went in.

    Good luck with your surgery!
  • ...for a 1 level L5-S1 360 fusion
  • Saltz,
    Have to agree with Bruce, it depends on what the surgeon finds once they are inside. My first ACDF was to take 3 hours, ended up being 5. The second surgery was 10 hours, they had to remove hardware , do another 2 level ACDF, then turned me over a did a laminectomy from c5 to c7. I also think all surgeons work at there own pace. Good Luck and before you know it you will be getting better!
  • I'm having a 2 level anterior (with hardware) and my surgeon says it will take about 1-2 hours....and that I will go home the next day. Is he blowing sunshine up my you know what???
  • Not necessarily. It can be done in 2 hours, mine was just depends on the access and what needs done. As far as going home the next day I am not sure that would be based on the individual. I was told to expect 2-3 nights. Two nights for sure and 3rd if was needed for issues. I had to stay 3 due to my bowels not cooperating. I did not feel any different between the 2nd and 3rd day so I could have left day 2 if things were going well but they were not! Having the bowels moved was one of the worst parts for me.I know that some people don't have problems with this, just depends on the person.

    Good luck with your surgery!
  • Mine took 7 hrs. I had blood transfusion (2 units of my own)as well as they did the blood circulation thing too.
    I also had lots of scar tissues that took a lot of time from the surgeon to clean it all up. then it was the surgery and taking scans on my back after surgery while in operating room to make sure everything was in the right place and free from any obsticles...
  • I think i take the cake!! 9 level fusion , took 12 hours, 5 days in icu lots of blood!!!!
  • wbri!! You do take the cake!

    Urgh, I'm feeling kinda queasy again. It's just so momentous. This could be life changing (for good or bad).

    I talk to the hospital on Friday, I'll ask how much time is blocked out.

    I did discuss with my NS what he is planning, I just did not think to ask how long it takes.

    So far I know:
    He calls it a PLIF, and he does enter from the back, center, but then he enters the actual spine from the side (is that a TLIF?)
    He will be using my bone material along with cadaver and growth hormone. He does not harvest bone from the iliac crest anymore.

    The hospital says I'll be out in 2-3 days.

    I'm worried as I don't have a lot of help at home afterwards - a 6 year old and my parents who will be 80 miles away.

    I should ask if anyone has done a rehab center to transition from hospital to home...

    I'm getting major worries again. urgh again.
  • I don't know how in the world a surgeon could do an ALIF in 1 - 2 hours, unless the hardware is being placed on the anterior side of the disk not requiring a posterior approach.

    My surgeon would not release me until I had a bowel movement. Going home the next day after sounds like an insurance company talking and not a doctor. If my doctor tried to discharge me after one day, I would ask a family member to kick him in his a$$. Because, I certainly couldn't move enough to do it.

    Is the surgeon going to open you up or do a minimal invasive procedure? Even then, seems awful fast for a major procedure.

    I would start asking all kinds of questions!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I too want to know if a TLIF is the same thing as the Posterior-lateral interbody fusion (as compared to the PLIF-posterior lumbar interbody fusion). My surgeon too will enter center back then the spine from the left. Sounds like a TLIF??? He also called it a Polar (posterior oblique lumbar arthrodesis). Confusing???
  • I was scheduled in for surgery may 12th, I went to the hospital got all my pre-op done, in the gown, THE WHOLE 9 YARDS!!!! @ 1330 the nurse comes into the room and says "I'm sorry, but we have no beds for the recovery period" I was canceled. Rescheduled for may20th and got the call not to show for the same reasons!! After about a month June 12th I'm back at the hospital for my surgery L5-S1 diskectomy. In at 0730 and in my room 1230 awake and bushy tailed!!! So far all is good but i've been down and off work since march 13 2008. If anything it was mentally draining prepairing than anything! Just take the time you need and I'm sure you have friends in the area to stop by and check up o you from time to time! GOOD LUCK and stay patient
  • TLIF L5-S1 was 5 hours for me and 6 days in the hospital
  • I am having a L4-S1 TLIF, the doc tells me 6 hours, 3-4 days in the hospital. He never mentioned the blood donation but I am gonna ask at my pre op appt.
  • Hi Keith,

    As far as I know, I will be opened up with about a 6 to 8 inch incision. I never thought about the hardware installation but you bring up a good point.

    I am going to ask a lot of questions...

    Thanks for your response!

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