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AxiaLIF L5/S1 fusion recovery

JuileJJuile Posts: 24
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Thought I'd post to see if I could both help others about to have this, and also see if anybody else out there can help me. I'm nearly three weeks post operative. I'm home, wounds healed well, I'm walking and feeling pretty good, but I still have lower back pain, plus sciatic pain. I know I'm being impatient, but was wondering if anybody out there has had the same surgery and found time made the pain go? All the surgeons will say is it will take time, but I'd love to hear from anybody out there who has some first hand experience, whether positive or negative.
+ if anybody out there is having this surgery and wants any info feel free to ask me. I found it hard to find much out before I had it, so am happy to help.


  • Hello, glad you are starting to feel a little better. I will be having the same surgery (2 levels, though) in a few weeks. How long did the actual surgery take, and how long did you stay in the hospital?
  • Hi Jason,
    I was in hospital for 4 days, but am in the UK, where this procedure seems to be very new so am not sure if it's the same if you're US based. I'm not sure how long I was in the operating theatre for, but about 3 hours I think as I didn't get back up to the ward until mid afternoon and I was operated on in the morning. They kept me in recovery for quite a while as my BP hit the floor, though that's pretty normal for me. I stood that night and walked easily next day. By the evening of the day after the op, I was easily meandering round the ward corridors.

    Worst part was most definitely the 'bowel cleansing' drugs they gave me pre-op to clear my system - they do this incase they nick your bowel, which is a risk due to where they go in, but it meant 24 hours of the runs, which is no fun when you're nervous and your back aches..!

    Drugs after the operation were a bit of a pain for me too, as the anaesthetic and/or the morphine made me very nauseous. I had morphine straight after the op, but once I was back on the ward that finished and I stuck to Codeine after having another bad reaction, though this time to Tramadol. Now I'm just on Paracetemol and Ibuprofen during the day, though I still take half a dose of Codeine at night. But at not yet three weeks post op, I think that's pretty good.

    Basically I'm not sure if the surgery has worked or not as I'm still very sore, but the recovery in terms of being able to walk and move about is okay. I feel tired, and it's hard to sit due to where they made the incision but that's getting better day by day.

    I really hope it goes well for you Jason. You'll have to let me know. What I would say is ignore the website that promotes the procedure - I really do think what they say is unrealistic, and from the few bits of web feedback I've found many others agree. It is better than traditional fusion in terms of recovery, but it's not a small op and you will be in pain afterwards. Just expect that and then you'll be relieved to find you can walk! For me at least it's been none too bad.

    And if there's anyone else out there who is like me out the other side, please post. I could do with some reassurance that the pain I'm in now might well go in time...
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  • Thank you for the reply. 4 days seems like a long stay in the hospital. I suppose as long as I can eat a normal diet, I should stay pretty mellow. I turn into a different person if I am stuck in the hospital with a restricted diet.

    Hopefully I will still feel like blogging on here about it afterwards. You never know if you will feel like trying to form thoughts and type them onto a laptop :)

    I will definately post updates on here, though. Glad to hear you are still moving forward all things considered.

  • AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,512
    edited 04/11/2013 - 4:15 AM
    Hey Julie,

    I agree with most of what you said. You can read the thread above about my experience. I am 8 weeks out. My back still hurts deep inside. Doing PT now and the added exercises make the muscles hurt. You need more patience, and so do I. 3 weeks out it is supposed to hurt. You are also correct on not paying attention to the marketing. Minimally invasive surgery does not mean it doesn't hurt. It means you will recover quicker than a traditional surgery.

    Good luck.
  • Really helpful to read your thread. Cheered me up to hear you're sounding so much better though not great that you're still in pain. In a way though it helps me to hear you are in pain, as that website which promotes this procedure makes it sound as though you should be running marathons at a few days out.. I didn't ever believe it, but it does make you worry it hasn't worked when you're sofa stuck with no energy.

    Interestingly we have different amounts of hardware - I have just the single axialif screw joining the vertebrae and no extras. My surgeon says he'd rather be as minimally invasive as possible and see if that does the trick. His logic was that as I'm quite slight, and have managed to keep relatively fit it was worth a try, as in his experience it's often the extra screws that can cause more problems. He's warned me I might need some more screws like you if it doesn't fix it, so fingers crossed. Also I'm not allowed to do anything much other than walk for 6 weeks - certainly no PT. Interesting how they all approach these things differently.

    + I do so hear you on the meds nightmare - everything made me throw up too, then I got a plague like rash of hives all over my body. I feel far more sane now I'm on lighter drugs. Am hoping I can work towards doing without anything over the next couple of weeks.

    I'll keep an eye on your thread for updates. Thanks again - hope you continue to feel improvement. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

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  • Just thought I'd say that the four days was probably because I'm in the UK. They're new-ish to the Axialif and maybe more wary.

    I didn't feel like eating after the op for a couple of days as the drugs made me feel sick - just unlucky I think. Also they must have stuck tubes down my throat, because it closed up making eating nigh on impossible. Best ask what they're going to do then you'll know. You'll be so pleased to be through to the other side though, and excited by being able to move that you won't mind missing a bit of food am sure.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Actually the UK tends be be more generous in how long they let patients remain in hospital. In the US they try to push you in one door and out the other even for major surgery.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Jason - just to warn you - the meds really messed me up post-op and they kept me in the hospital on a liquid diet for over a week. I did have complications though, so my experience is not typical.

    Juile - glad to know you've found someone else who has had the AxiaLIF. I've read Zo6's posts too. Intriguing procedure, I hope it really works out for you all.
  • Julie,

    Well if you have the same deep pain in the middle that I have. I think we can deduce that it is in fact the Axial bolt doing it. Since I have added hardware but you don't. It would make sense. While the pedicle screws go deep and do hurt. The surgeon drills a good size hole through S1 and into L5. That Axial bolt is a lot bigger (fatter) than a pedicle screw. I saw one of the bolts in his office. He showed me all the hardware when we talked pre-surgery. He was also very clear that bones give you a deep seated pain when someone drills into them and sticks screws in them.

    My surgeon was dead set against only facet screws in the back. He said all his earlier failed outcomes were from facet screws. He ended up going back in and doing the pedicle screws with rods. He never mentioned just doing the Axial bolt alone. The Trans1 site does not show that as an option. I was told that added hardware was for support that the original design does not give. He said since he went to pedicle screws with rods he has had no failures or revisions.

    Your surgeon is taking the minimalist approach and makes a valid point. If more hardware is not needed then don't. I hope he is right.

    Please continue to post and document your outcome. This procedure is not commonly know. That is why I started documenting mine. So others who search can find it.

    Good luck!!!

  • Graham,

    That's reassuring that your deep ache is similar and also that your surgeon says it's normal. The trouble I've had is that the Surgeon didn't decide I should have the Axialif until the day before the operation, so though he'd mentioned it as an option before I'd thought I'd be having the more traditional fusion, so had little time to research. I knew it sounded good and most definitely worth saying yes to, but there was little time to ask questions, so your experience is like gold dust to me.

    If I do get to the stage where they decide I need more screws I'll question using facet screws and ask about pedicle ones with rods - that's really really good information. Am hoping my Surgeon's instinct is right, but who knows.

    I will keep posting. Hoping it helps others, just as you're helping me.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year!

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