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Why are there so many repeat surgeries??

TatiyanaTTatiyana Posts: 193
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am having a anterior deskectomy/decompression/fusion in about a month, but I am starting to get nervous by how many of you have to have the surgery again...Can someone help explain why that is?


  • There are a number of reasons why patients need surgery again. Some patients get a pseudoarthrosis which is a failed fusion - there are many different factors that can contribute to failed fusions (smoking, poor bone quality, not wearing your back brace faithfully, too much bending/lifting/twisting immediately after surgery, etc). I've seen some people pull their screws out and need them put back in (although it doesn't happen often so don't be alarmed!)

    Some people need further surgery at adjacent levels down the road as well (there is always a chance of needing the level above or below the fusion done later).
  • The reason you see so many repeat surgeries is because the people that need help and support are here on the board. The ones that dont need repeat surgeries are here for only a short while then leave so we dont hear how well they are doing.
    Occassionally some pop back to let us know how they are.
    Be aware that what you read here is from only a very small minority of people having surgery on their backs.

    Also when fusions are done, one of the risks is that it puts greater pressure on the discs above and below the surgery so often in time that next level may give out so that is why a lot of Drs dont like to jump in a do any fusions too early.

    Hope that helps you
    Blessings Sara O:)
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  • Hi

    I suppose each case is different.

    In 1993 I had a discectomy and laminectomy L4 thru S1 with no hardware. By 2007 I had developed Post Laminectomy Syndrome. The spine had collapsed and was pointing to the left. So in Nov 2007 I had a 4level PLIF with the hardware.

  • your going to hear a bunch of odd and end stories. not one person the same.
    there are so many risk factors.
    i fused fine with my neck in 04 no issues since then.
    my lumbar fusion did not take due to lack of blood flow which is a totally new issue we just found and im headed for bypass surgery.
    will i need a 3rd surgery because im past the important time frame of fusion taking place?? i dont' know i will cross that bridge when i come to it.

    p.s. iv never heard of people not fusing because they did not wear their braces or to much bending or twisting so thats very very interesting to me.i would like to hear more on that one. :B :? :/
    my dr does not believe in braces. i just happened to ask for one at my 4 wk checkup because of the medical issues im having now. they are even starting to not use them with cervical fusions.
    i found not using a brace last year i had alot more core strength. thats my drs reasoning on them. at 3 wks i was able to squat all the way to the floor and back up. i was also doing housework , driving etc. i even had a mis hap and flew mid air on a icy driveway and did no further damage. so in that case strength of the bone is very important. so EX: if someone has severe osteoporisis they may not fuse as fast or not at all iv read. but alot of times in that type of situation drs will not even due a fusion.
    so again all drs/patients are different in the way things go.
    when it comes to fusion, if your bone is going to fuse it is, if it isn't it isn't
    there is so many contributing factors.
    its like a poker game. you won't know till the game is over.
    just follow your drs instructions, do lots of resting, walking as that will be your only exercise for awhile, PT if its offered to you, icing and take your meds on the time schedule your supposed to.

    good luck on your surgery, i wish you all the best!!! O:) O:)
  • I truely believe why some people have to have their surgery re-done is from not listening to your surgeon, being stubborn, or just wanting to see how far you can go. If he says wear your brace, do your drugs, don't do no BLT's for however length of time, if he says you will NEVER be able to lift over 20lbs believe it, do exactly what he says...

    And absolutely, when he releases you for physical therapy DO IT!!! That's another big contibutor in your recovery. Have tons of patience cause there will come a time during your recovery that you say to yourself "I can vaccume, I can pick up that sock, I can go back to work", well guess what, only your surgeon and PT know when you can do those things. Don't push it as frustrating as it may become.

    Just do what your doctor and PT say, and you'll be fine,... and rest, rest, rest no matter how sore or bored you get from laying around, and do those excersises... You'll heal
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  • Thanks for your responses. This is such a scary operation & I am no stranger to surgery.
    I just hope it is worth it all, but I have to believe it is. The Dr. said 65% chance it would take care of my pain.
    I would have settled for 30%....any improvement at all is welcome.
  • I very much agree with the above - I had a huge initial improvement after my fusion - down to a pain level of 3 and off hard meds by week 5 until I had an over-aggressive physical therapist - in one session he made me feel the pain (like 20/10) I had the night of my surgery and I have been in severe pain since, and now facing a possible second procedure. I also think going back to work to soon (no disability), having to do stuff around the house and activities of daily living (I'm single) may slow healing. I also regret now not having been prescribed a brace to wear - if you are offered one definitely use it. Every here who has had surgery will tell you how important it is to "take it easy and let yourself heal", but face it sometimes on a practical level that can be hard.
  • I absolutely LOVE my brace. And to be honest with you... I felt HORRIBLE if I went hours without wearing it. What it did was helped me to NOT bend or twist, and gave me more support while sitting, standing, etc. My core muscles have not changed at ALL. They are still just as strong as before surgery. ALL the muscles in my body are ridiculously strong, though. It is genetic, just runs in my family. I do absolutely no physical exercise of any kind, and I have biceps, triceps, quads, and calves of steel... They are ridiculous. Lol. So maybe that's why I didn't have a problem, but... I would have been lost without my brace. It is a soft velcro one with hard plastic support right around the spine area. The adjustability on it is wicked good.... I THINK it's called the Boa LITE. I had talked to another member here about it, and he was sent home with a different brace. He bought one from the site I sent him to, and he loves it. He likes it a lot more than the one the hospital sent him home with. Maybe the type of brace has a lot to do with it, too. Anyhow, I am glad I wore my brace for the minimum 6 weeks... Not wearing it now feels NOTHING like it did not wearing it a few weeks ago. It used to KILL to go an hour without it. Now I can go all day and be fine. I can use my stomach muscles totally fine, as well, and I have a 6 inch incision there, through my stomach and the stomach muscles... Even after the trauma to the muscles, and wearing a brace, they still are in tip top shape.

    I won't lie, though... I do too much bending, lifting, and twisting. I am lucky to be doing as well as I am for doing what I do. I don't think risking it is the smart thing to do. I really don't. BUT, there is a difference between something frivolous like choice of meds, or beverages, or diets... And having to take care of your disabled child alone. I do too much, but I have no choice. It may be part of the reason I had DDD bad enough to require a fusion at 22. First back surgery was right around 21. I also have a herniation in the Thoracic spine, and bone spurs and other issues in my Cervical area. My spine is not a pretty one for being 22... But responsibilities are responsibilities. I refuse to neglect my son or let him suffer in any way, even if it means taking on physical pain. Everyone is quick to suggest family and friends... In Utopia, dream world, sure. That would be nice. Unfortunately, reality doesn't always work that way. My mother is also a single mom and works her butt off, doesn't have the time to take care of herself, let alone help me out. Same with both of my sisters. On top of that, my son is MY responsibility. NO ONE else's. I brought him into this world and I refuse to lay my responsibilities on another. My boyfriend helps when he can, but he works 40 to 50 hours a week and things need to be done. It is what it is. I most likely will require future surgeries... And that will most likely be a combination of my bad genetics (my mother and sister have multiple spinal issues, as well), my overdoing things, and my young age-the fusion placing more stress on surrounding levels with, God willing, many more years to go.

    So like the others have said, every situation is different. Most people are able to follow their doctor's orders well, and have a successful outcome. Not everyone has an interesting situation like mine... And like someone else said... Most of the people who had the successful outcomes are not on the boards anymore... They are out doing all the things they couldn't do before, and have moved on to another point in their lives.

    No need to stress yourself out. There are many people here who can offer you all kinds of support! This forum is an amazing thing. Hearing from real people who have experienced things helps a lot more, in my opinion, and is more comforting, than reading technical stuff. Of course that is important, to research and have a good wealth of knowledge when it comes to your situation, your diagnosis, and your surgeries.... But real people make it so much more personal.

    Good luck with your surgery :) We're all here for ya if you need anything. Let us know how it all works out for you!
  • As i am a revision story body I would like to remind you that the risks of surgery are REAL.

    I never did anything adverse to aggrivate my recovery, just bad luck. So the risks are REAL and you need to take them on when you consent to the procedure, in case you are UNLUCKY like I was to have complications.

    Yes they are rare but they do happen.

    I am very much in control of my sattitude (which i really think is KEY) and my recovery has been slower than perhaps ideal BUT I AM RECOVERING...so that is the difference, I am positive in the face of adversity.

    Make sure you are fully aware of plan a and plan b in your own mind and you will do just fine, there can be no surprises for you.

    Good Luck and like they say above, do as you are told!
  • i totally agree, it much depends on doing as you are told, luck, genetics etc, i agree that the majority of people do get good results from their surgery and leave the forums, return to work, and have less time etc. i had a L4/5 fusion in aug 2007 - followed be a further op 6 weeks later to remove a screw that was encroaching on the L5 nerve root!!! OUCH - dunno what the doc thought he was playin at!!! any way - i have taken a long time for recovery - compared to some people, other than some nerve damage/nerve pain and numbness in my right leg/foot, i think im doing ok. i do not take any pain killers any more, i just take 25mg amytriptilline at night to help with sleep due to leg spasms and i am back at work full time, i went back 9 months ago and have not had a day off sickness since. my job involves lifting, twisting, bending etc, and i was scared - but i remained sensible and i have kept as fit as i can, so there is some hope, im glad i had mine done - my pain - i could bear no longer, i have a good quality of life now. im not sure if i have fused or not as i havent had xrays etc, i think my doc/organisation is a bit unorganised - but i rekon things must be ok otherwise i'd be feeling pain surely.
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