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Need another spinal fusion survey

I need a lumbar fusion on levels L4/L5.
The surgeon I used before gave me a lot of misinformation about recovery from an ACDF of two levels.
My husband Floyd not want me to use him again. The surgeon wants to do lumbar fusion and said that the recovery takes about a month. The way they do the surgery is supposed to be less invasive than traditional lumbar fusion. They do a couple of small incisions and move your muscle to the side instead of cutting through it. The lady who handles the surgery said that if I had traditional lumbar fusion that they make a six inch incision and cut through the muscle. She said I would be in a back brace for six months and need intensive physical therapy afterwards. I already have a screw loose from the ACDF that they did so my husband really feels like they are not very good and are high pressure sales people. What is lumbar fusion recovery like when you have the more intrusive type of fusion? Are they telling me the truth or once again giving me bad information and using scare tactics?


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 729
    edited 11/27/2015 - 2:06 PM
    Lumbar fusion surgery by any surgical method is a MAJOR surgery and recovery can be a long road particularly if your older like me (I'm 62). The time frame of months is correct.... not weeks. For my first fusion surgery it took 12 months to feel 100% normal again... for my second fusion surgery I'm at month 10 and still not 100% but doing ok. I wore a brace for the first couple of months and started PT at 3 months.
    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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    Any spinal surgery, even when they indicate it to be less invasive can be a major surgery. Perhaps not in terms of complexity or the time for the actual surgery. I have heard of people going home the following day after some of these less invasive surgeries. While the more invasive surgery will take longer, I am not sure sure about the need for a back brace. I wore a back brace for 6months after my first lumbar surgery. But that was back in 1978, and spinal surgery, the type, the recovery, the requirements are so much different than today. When I had my ACDFs (1986 and 2000), the surgeon mandated that I wear a hard cervical collar 24x7 for about 6 weeks. Today, hard collars seem to be phasing out as well as collar in general.

    However, all surgeries take time to heal, time to reduce the pain levels and time to recover. There is no magic numbers for any of those. As Harry explained, the time frames can be much longer than what the surgeons may tell you. And it is especially true as we get older. Just in the past 5 years, when I had six surgeries, each one took a little longer to recover from as the years went by.

    A month as your surgeon indicate may be the time frame a month. But who knows under what situations? Every case is different every surgery is some what different as well as the patient. While perhaps in the best laid out plans, a month may be enough time, I would not want to plan your life around that.

    If you even have second thoughts about this surgeon, then I would look for additional opinions. You want to be 100% comfortable with your surgeon and have no doubts.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had a minimally invasive Lumbar fusion, and I was back at my desk job after 3 weeks. I'm not fully recovered, but I can drive, and work and function.
    Lots of surgeons do the minimally invasive procedure, so you don't necessarily have to go with the same surgeon. Always best to get another opinion.
  • Sorry I never got back to this post. I ended up having a TILF with a different surgeon
     Also minimally invasive and I have been required to wear a back brace for three months...comes off May 4th. Then I will begin physical therapy. Hopefully anyway....it might depend on what is going on with my neck.
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