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black disc

shazzasshazza Posts: 66
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
im waiting for TLIF fusion surgery L5 S1 for severely degenerate disc..ive seen some people explain my mri report, where the disc looks like its dissapeared as being a black disc..has anyone else got this and if so, what are your treatments for it, and does it get worse if no surgery? i would like to know as much as possible before i see my surgeon on 27 jan..thanx


  • Hi Shazza,
    I have never heard the term 'black disc' but that doesn't mean anything. Maybe the disc looks black because of the scan or maybe it is black because it had lack of circulation/oxygen which is why it is degenerated. I am only guessing here.
    This really is a question for your surgeon.
    If you know you are going to have a fusion, then the disc will be removed as part of the surgery.
    So when you see him ask him this and also what type of surgery you will have PLIF is from the back, ALIF from front etc.
    Also what is he going to use to fuse with graft from hip/pelvis/cadaver bone or BMP?
    Will you need to wear a brace after?
    How long is recovery?

    That is the start of a list for you.
    Let us know how it goes.
    Blessings Sara
  • My disc was black and although I saw several surgeons & explanations varied some, they all said it was black because it was dry...the disc normally has water and mine had none.
    I also had a bulge & tear so I my situation is somewhat different. I have now found that my pain was mainly caused from the tear and the sciatic nerve pain from the bulge.
    Nothing significant from the fact that it was dry.

    I hope this helps :)
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  • Tatiyana is correct ... a disc showing up on an MRI as black is dehydrated.

    For normal discs, they lose fluid during the day (due to activity) and absorb an appropriate amount of surrounding fluids at night when we rest. Dehydrated discs are unable to replenish the amount of fluid lost during the day. Over time, they become brittle and instead of cushioning, they can break.

    Typically, conservative treatments such as PT and exercise are attempted first. Steroid injections can also be used to decrease inflammation near the disc, attempting to provide an environment where it can heal itself.

    In my case, I had a dehydrated disc that had lost approximately half its height. Without surgery, I would have eventually been in a bone-on-bone situation.

    I can't speak for your situation, but my surgeon told me that my disc was in such bad shape that it would never be able to recover on its own. Without intervention, it would have completely disintegrated within 5-10 years.
  • My L4-L5 disc is black.
    However, the normal height is maintained at this time.
    Who knows how long it will last. (knocks on wood)
    Once they dry out, they do not rehydrate.

    However, there is a surgeon in Germany that is trying a procedure to reverse that.

    A company in California's Silicon valley is also experimenting. They inject stem cells into the disc to try to regenerate it.

    Both procedures are currently considered experimental at this time.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I have severe DDD in the L4-5 and L5-S1 but I never heard of that terminology. The disc heights are maintained but my lower back always hurts like hell. I still have chronic back and nerve pain even after my 2 level TLIF/laminectomy 8 months ago.
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  • thanks for your comments, they have helped alot...im certainly going to ask my surgeon a few more questions on tuesday. I have had this pain for 15 years now, made worse after a riding accident where i fractured my spine and herniated another disc, but the worst pain was always this one L5...maybe there is more about the disc on mri i will have to ask.

    thanx all

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