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Surgeon is recommeding 2 level fusion

ScottiegalSScottiegal Posts: 106
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I saw my surgeon today after my MRI scan 2 weeks ago and he said that despite our expectations of a prolapse on L4/L5, I actually have a bulge on L5/S1!! He says it is not bad and should resolve itself, but said a nerve block would help with the leg pain. Unfotunately it will do nothing to the back pain. He said given the severity of my back pain and the condition of those two discs, he feels that fusion is recommended. He said a 2 level fusion with instrumentation. I was not in the best place mental in the appointment - my father died unexpectedly 2 weeks ago and I only got home yesterday after a 10 hour flight so all the questions I had lined up for him slipped my mind. He is going to write a letter to my GP, with a copy to me outlining the surgery and the expectations so hopefully the detail I need will be in there.

Now I just need to decide whether to have a) the nerve block (the leg pain is much better than it was and miles better than the back pain) and b) the fusion.


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    You should contact the surgeon's office and see if they want you to proceed with a nerve block first. Often surgery is done well after other methods have been used. So if you've agreed to go forward with the surgery will that be soon? And just know you can have nerve blocks and epidural injections after surgery as well.

    If you do have questions you can write them down and maybe have a call with the surgeon's nurse/medical assistant. Often they can answer many of the questions. I just spoke to my surgeon's medical assistant today regarding surgery details and she was so helpful.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. What a string of stressful stuff you're having! If he thinks the disc bulge will resolve itself, why does he want to do a two level fusion? You'd be better off with as few levels fused as you can get away with. I had three and I'm pretty stiff. I hope you'll wait till you're feeling a bit more clear-headed before going to surgery. I understand the fog all this stuff can put you in. Good luck and God bless you.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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  • The fusion is being recommended as a "solution" to the ongoing back pain I have been having. At the moment the sciatica is an irritating add on to the debilitating back pain I have been having. The best it ever gets is 5 out of 10 and I can't do housework, groom my dogs, take my kids to the park, eat a meal without standing halfway through etc. etc. Basically the discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1 are a disaster and there is no point in just doing a fusion on L4/L5 (my biggest problem if they are going to have to go in again in the future to do L5/S1. The rest of my back is fine thank God.

    I'm not jumping into this decision lightly. I have done a lot of research before my dad died and I'm going to wait and see the letter from the surgeon before I make any decisions about the fusion. I have to fly out to South African again after Christmas so I wouldn't be able to have fusion until after that anyway. The immediate question is whether I do the nerve block now as a stopgap before the fusion. My leg pain is resolving albeit slowly and if I am to have the fusion I'd prefer not to have another general anaesthetic. Aargh! Decisions

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I would think based on your anticipated travel a nerve block may help you and wouldn't impede your ability to do a fusion in the next few months. You can just check with the surgeon to be sure. For my nerve block they use conscious sedation where they give a sedating drug and pain reliever via IV (versed and fentanyl). So while I'm out of it it's not the same as general anesthesia (no intubation). But for the fusion you will have a full general anesthesia.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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