Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Success/Failure Definitions: as part of: New styles in Spinal surgery may not always be the best

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,348
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Again, this is an offshoot of:
New styles in Spinal surgery may not always be the best

The original topic contained several posts regarding members success or failures after surgery. I believe these posts deserve their own topic, but it is still related to the main thread
Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • There in lies a big problem though, because everyone has a different definition of success.

    My definition of success, might be someone else's definition of failure.

    It boils down to things as simple as our up bringing, our life experiences, our length of suffering, our type of suffering, our expectations... The list is long.

    So when you try to create a definition of success, you really can't. It's not black and white. As someone else mentioned earlier, it's very gray.

    Doctors develop their own definition of success, based on their experiences over time and their own personal expectations.

    The artist creates what they feel is a work of art, and everyone else develops their own opinion.

    You could have a think tank work on this for years, and I really believe they will come up without a cut and dry answer.



    "Treat the patient ... not the Xray"

  • We can look at Websters for the definition of success and the definiton of surgery, blend them together and still get virtually no clear answer. I can only account for what I feel is a success or not in my own life.
    Lets say...everyone is the same age, height, weight, and in identically good physical health all with the same back injury.
    All of us have a pro bono cutting edge surgery by the best surgeon. Each surgery is performed precisely the same, on the exact same symptoms and discs.
    ALL of us have the same restrictions, diet, rest, excersise program, bracing mechanism, and pain relief. Everything is the same for everyone.
    At one year, I guarantee the results would Bell curve and that is where you will find the closest thing to what success really is.

    Success is in the mind of the person who undergoes this surgery, and in the eyes of the surgeon who performed it. Even then the definition of success will vary.

    How do you define it with so many variables.

    Success is in one's own mind, in my opinion. I know it is for me.



    27 years old
    PLIF multi level fusion December 2, 2008
    Disc herneation from L4 to S1,
    Drop Foot of left foot, with numbness from knee to big toe
    Degenerataive Disc Disease in Lumbar region, signs of stenosis from L3 to S1
    Buldge extending 1.3 cm at L4

  • advertisement
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,348

    What is one mans treasure is anothers poison

    Not every person looks at things the same way. How do yo measure success? Is it about the hours in a day you are almost pain free? Is it the way you can walk?, Is it the way you can sleep??

    Everyone has their own values about what success means to them. I know what I want out of life in the terms of medically spinal impaired. But is that the same for you?

    For me success has been relatively simple. Maybe not at first when I was in my 30's, but now closing in on 60, I realize what is important to me. I couldnt give a rats' bottom if I could walk faster than I do know, or get up in the morning like every normal person.

    I know I have the love of my wife and of my children. I couldn't ask for more


    Ron DiLauro

    Ron's Story
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Spine-Health FAQs

    The Mod Squad

    The information provided by members of Spine-Health should never be considered as formal medical advice. It is recommendations based on member's personal experiences only.
    This can vary from person to person, so do not take comments as medical facts or rules

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com

  • Success is in ones own mind, and the results of thier life. As well as what they consider to be a successful life outside of this spine or neck issue.
    If we put a stagnant definition on this surgery then we have a set standard, something we can expect. But what happens when we see the "official" definiton of a succesful surgery and we dont fall under its "x" criteria.
    Life is more than my spine, my surgery, my surgeon, insurance company. I dont want a defined life, or I would be in a box of "x" standards and expectations.


    27 years old
    PLIF multi level fusion December 2, 2008
    Disc herneation from L4 to S1,
    Drop Foot of left foot, with numbness from knee to big toe
    Degenerataive Disc Disease in Lumbar region, signs of stenosis from L3 to S1
    Buldge extending 1.3 cm at L4

  • My brother had surgery 25 years ago after shattering 3 vertabrae from a 3 story fall. He walks with a minor limp and just recently started using lyrica and amitriptyline which is helping him. But he's got a rod and screws in his spine and back then he must've had a great Surgeon for him not to have any pain until now and alot may be due to being overweight. So although technology is advancing, what they did back then was a miracle for him and of course me. I'm thankful he had no difficulties after surgery. He's hoping that I won't have to get surgery. I'll know more next week...


    L5-S1 herniated disc with tear with disc material in contact with S-1 nerve. 3 Epidurals. Facet joint injections and last epidural on Dec. 6. DDD C5-C7 osteoarthritis hyperextension of cervical spine. Off work 10 months due to pain.
    MS Contin,Flexeril,celebrex,Lyrica,wellbutrin,lasix,amitriptyli

    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • advertisement

  • Hello Rich, and all interested parties,

    I have been following this most interesting thread, but I did not contribute to it, as most of you expressed some common thoughts so eloquently. The reason I am writing now is because Rich is asking for personal definitions of SUCCESS as a result of surgery. Here is why I think my three-level lumbar fusion 8 1/2 months ago was a success:

    1. I woke up from surgery without feeling any pain, and when the second day they removed my morphine pump I was sill not feeling any pain;

    2. I had a speedy (a relative term) recovery without any setbacks,

    3. Within two weeks I began attending social function (carefully selecting a seat to sit on);

    4. One morning when I got out of bed, I realized that I don't have the morning stiffness I felt the last few years, even before I started to experienced the other symptoms that made me seek medical help;

    5. By six weeks I walked at least an 1 1/2 total every day without any pain;

    6. At my five-month checkup the surgeon discharged me, told me I am almost completely fused;

    7. Presently, I don't feel any pain, or numbness, I can walk fast, I drive, go to my regular exercise class, do just about anything I want to do.

    Now all these being said, I know that maybe down the road I could encounter some problems, but until then I live a full and pain-free life. And next month I fly alone to the island of Kaua'i!!!

    I wish the same for every one of you, from the bottom of my heart!

    Kin (without pain)


    SF Peninsula CA resident
    Decompression and L3-S1 fusion with instrumentation, 5/1/08

  • I think it's awesome that your brother has done so well for so many years. I think he illustrates another part of this too...

    Do people feel more pain these days because they feel they are expected to, or is it for real? Is pain more of a real beast today because treating it is broadcast through every form of media and talked about on a daily basis?

    I don't think that people have kept pain hidden just because it wasn't a typical topic of conversation as much as it is now. So what changed? Why have we become the world that feels more pain?

    Is it because as a whole, there's a greater desire to jump to having surgery too soon? What is the world's fascination with having surgery? Have we become our own worst enemy in the attempt to make things better and take "the easy way out"?

    I applaud the members on this forum who day in and day out let everyone else know, that they have not had surgery. It seems to me that too many people try and wear their surgery as a "badge" of sorts. They have the most elaborate "been there done that got the t-shirt" on the rack.

    So in essence Rich, it seems we are driving medicine to develop more, different, newer techniques. Someone who decides they have to have surgery, but the surgeons don't agree. What happens next? New technique? Hmm...


  • RichT wrote:

    Bruce 1/16/09 19:28 - Bruce talks about "the way we carry out our recovery after surgery must have a major impact on the overall success of surgery" "key factor in my successful fusion outcome" Bruce has in his mind his definition what his "successful fusion outcome" means to him. Is it the same as his doctor's definition? And I really don't know what Bruce means by those terms.

    Rich, this is how I see it: The medical community (yes, I am generalising, I know), certainly the majority of spine surgeons, traditionally define success in regard to how successful the "surgery" was, e.g. was the disc herniation removed, has the bone fully fused. They do not consider the overall well being of the patient. I regard success in terms of how the patient is feeling after surgery AND recovery - specifically:

    1. Have pain levels been removed or significantly reduced
    2. Has the patients overall quality of life improved
    3. Has the risk of the condition worsening or coming back, been removed or significantly reduced by the surgery.

    There are plenty of cases where 100% bone fusion has occurred in a very short time after a fusion surgery, but the patients overall quality of life has improved.

    In regard to measuring my own success, while bone fusion was reassuring to know, the bottom line was has my quality of life improved, and I (not my surgeon) used the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) to measure that.


    Severe Degenerative Disk Disease and severe bilateral foraminal stenosis at L5-S1. Laminectomy & fusion in Dec 2006. Hardware removed due to issues, in July 2007. Now living a back pain free life.

    View my story
    View my mountain climbing experience

    Useful Resources
    View Pain Management Procedures
    View Suicide Help

    Important: My comments here and comments from other members reflect personal opinions only. You should not act on any advice or opinion posted in these forums without seeking proper medical advice from a qualified doctor. Please, ALWAYS check with your personal physician before taking any action regarding your health!

    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Hello Everyone,

    FANTASTIC!!! I went "click" on Post comment, then my wife and I went out to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. And upon returning, BINGO eight responses regarding "SUCCESSFUL surgery". I enjoyed and value each one of your posts. Thanks much.

    Tomorrow I will be encouraging our SH spinal doctors to express their thoughts here.

    Then, I will try to step back out of the forest to see the trees so to speak.

    What a warm feeling it is to FEEL the bond of mutal friendship developing.

    YES, we are at a ROUND TABLE, not a long table.!!!!

    Take care. Sleep well.


  • Wonderful thread. My hats off to all who have contributed.

    I had my 360, 5 level fusion done in early April of 2007. I wore a hard shelled brace for several months. I had 50 plus PT sessions. At my November visit to my surgeon's office, he told me I was fully fused and all my hardware was in place. There was nothing more he needed to do. I was a successful outcome.

    My problem was, I didn't feel like a successful outcome. I still had great difficulty walking any distance, standing, sleeping, and on and on. My definition of a successful outcome was to feel like I did before my back problems began in Febuary of 2006.

    I languished in pain and in self doubt another six months until I began to ignore the pain, push through the pain. I figured, "I have nothing to lose". I was right. Today I have a goal. I set this goal this past November, one year after my surgeon said I was a success. My goal is to walk 5 days a week, no matter what the weather or what my schedule is. I have met my goal. I have walked 4 miles a day, 5 days a week, sometimes 6, through wind, rain, snow, ice and frigid temps.

    I still have daily pain, but its managible. I am better than I was and happy with the outcome. I am a success.



    Spinal stenosis surgery in May of 2002. Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007. Retired early as a high school principal, couldn't run a school with such a bad back.

    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.