For some reason, I have not been able to log onto spine-health for a couple of months, so I haven't been able to post an update on my situation. (I haven't even been able to open most pages on the spine-health site; but, it seems to be working now!)
After meeting with a total of 6 spine surgeons in Colorado over the past year, I was quite convinced that spinal fusion was necessary, I finally found the right surgical team, and I had surgery on 10/20/08. I had ALIF/PLIF/postereolateral spinal fusion for my grade 3 spondylolisthesis.
But, the surgeon discovered an unexpected mess in my spine, and I was in surgery for more than 10 hours. He found fractures that neither he nor any of the other 5 surgeons (or the radiologists) had seen in any of my images (X-rays and MRI). He found localized osteopenia (weak/soft bone) at L5, so that vertebrae couldn't really hold the screws. He also found lots of bone spurs, completely crushed nerves, a very steep angle at my L5-S1 slip, etc. He ended up fusing L4-L5-S1, not just the planned L5-S1, using 2 cages (with BMP), 5 screws, and some rods. The hardware placement was a bit tricky and is "delicate" because of the osteopenia and the very steep slip angle (they reduced the slip distance by about 50%). Afterward, he said he had no idea how I was even walking with my spine in that condition.
The good news is that at my 6 week follow up, the hardware still seemed to be in place and some bone growth was already visible on X-ray. I go back on 01/22/09 and will have a CT then.
But, because of my complications, my weird anatomy, the tricky hardware placement, and the osteopenia, I was put into a hard plastic and metal LSO brace that has a "hip spica" extension that attaches the LSO to one of my thighs--this greatly limits hip movement. This brace is a major pain to deal with. I'm in it all the time except during sleep. My husband must put it on and take it off, while I lie on my back. It's very uncomfortable. I can't drive, and I can't even get in/out of my SUV without a step-stool and some help, because of the limited leg motion. I've been in this for just over 2 months now, and will be in it for at least one more (hopefully that's all!), if not another 2. Ugh.
This seems to be a rather unusual brace--the physical therapists and the orthotists say it's rarely used and most PTs I've encountered or talked to have never even seen one. I'm just curious if any of you have been in one of these things.