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Second Surgery - December 23

MarkRMMarkR Posts: 172
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,

It's been a while, but I'm back. I have a second back surgery scheduled for December 23. Yes, it's right before Christmas, but the timing is perfect. My wife has the week off work between XMas and New Year's, so she will be able to look after me without dipping into her PTO time.

Why do I need another surgery? Well, I had my single-level fusion surgery at L5/S1 back in August 2008. The surgeon removed the bad disc, did a partial laminectomy and nerve decompression, inserted a plastic cage with BMP and used two titanium facet bolts instead of the typical rods & screws.

At first, my recovery seemed to be going well. Despite still having continual discomfort, I did occasionally experience a virtually pain-free hour or two, something that has been rare over the past 20 years.

Eventually, the pain began getting worse. In late May my surgeon ordered a myelogram/CT scan, which came back clear - it did not even show any scar tissue.

After a little improvement during the summer, the pain began getting worse in early September. This was probably due my doing some contract work from home, which required sitting for longer periods of time. It could have also been due to cleaning toilets, but I was very careful, doing it on my knees, keeping my back straight and not scrubbing very hard.

By mid-October, my pain level was just as bad, if not worse than it was before the surgery. I saw my surgeon just before Thanksgiving and he said I should not be in this much pain 15 months after surgery (obviously). Since the tests don't show any problems, he needs to go back in and have a look around.

My surgeon suspects the pain may be due to the fusion not being solid, allowing for micro movements in that area. If there is complete bone growth between the vertebrae, but it is not solid, they call it a "union". He also said the pain could be due to my body not liking the metal bolts inside me.

His plan is to remove the facet bolts, clean up around the nerves, and clear out any arthritis and scar tissue. Then, he will stress the fusion segment to see if it is solid. If it is not solid, depending on the situation, he may put in more BMP and rods & screws. If it is solid, then he won't do anything else in that area, but will look around to see if he can find another source of the pain.

The nice thing is that his entire focus was not on the physical fusion, but why I still have pain.

I'll write an update post-surgery, once I'm functional enough to get back online. Thanks for listening.


  • It's great to hear from you, but not under these circumstances. Sorry to hear that things have been so rough for you post op. It is nice to see that your doc is concerned about the pain and the "why" vs just removing things and trying to clean up. I hope it is a nice Christmas gift for you to have a successful surgery and a much better recovery.

  • Sorry you need to have another surgery, I am hopeful your surgeon will figure out the source of pain. I am impressed your dr has such concern and wants to get to the source of your pain.

    I just had my 2nd fusion since the 1st one 10 months ago failed. I had to change surgeons though, which I am grateful to have found a great OS this time. My original NS kept saying my pain and post-op problems weren't due to his surgery and that it was "something else".

    Keep us posted on your recovery.

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  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Sorry to hear you will undergo a second surgery so soon after the first (I'm anticipating #3 in February but this is 17 yr after #2). Please let us know how it goes and how you are feeling.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • having a second surgery, but it sounds like the timing is good. Also, I like the sound of your doctor being more concerned with the reason for your pain rather than if his original plan for your spine just "had to be the right thing." I think some docs are so sure that their treatment plan will work and their surgical technique is so perfect that you can't possibly have pain after they've worked on you. It's refreshing to see a doc who can admit that some times things don't go as planned.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks to everyone for your thoughts.

    After reading so many stories about spinal surgeons ignoring a patient's pain and only focusing on whether the physical fusion was successful, I was quite surprised by my doctor's approach.

    It was an eye-opening appointment because I was really not expecting to have surgery suggested again (maybe it was in the back of my mind), but also could not believe my surgeon's focus was entirely on me, my current discomfort level and trying to figure out what needs to be done to get me healed.

    It made me realize how extremely lucky I am to have found a really good surgeon. Yes, they are out there.
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  • with your surgery Mark.

    Take Care,

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