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9 Months since my L5-S1 fusion, and I don't see any "fusing" in the MRI.

BrihtwulfBBrihtwulf Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
i was sortof put out to pasture after my 4 month appointment with my neurosurgeon. he had the basic attitude that he had done all he could, and now whatever happens, happens... well, i started developing some more severe pain recently (in my tailbone area), so my doctor ordered an mri.

take a look at this image:

...and tell me if you see any fusing at l5-s1. doesn't it also look like the bone tissue above and below the prosthetic disc is inflamed, swolen? it's showing up white on the imaging...

they're sending the images and report back to my neurosurgeon again, and i'm wondering what he's going to say.



  • Some more information on the situation:

    Originally the nurse who told me the results of my MRI had said the only thing in the report was "post-surgical changes". However, she neglected to mention the minor spinal stenosis at the L4-L5 level as well as a narrowing of the left lateral foramina at the same level.

    It mentioned some degenerative changes causing problems. There wasn't mention of how complete the fusion was at all. I don't know if they really evaluate that.

    Also, considering the pain was going down my tailbone, I find it odd that they only did lower lumbar imaging and nothing for the full sacrum or coxxyx. The nurse I asked that question to said the doctor "didn't need to see those areas"...

  • Hello,
    It sure is tempting to try and interpret MRI's and CT scans! I've poured over mine as well but I know that it is best left to the surgeon to give me the diagnosis.

    I too have sacrum pain since my L5/S1 fusion and have read that others experience this as well. I hope this pain is temporary for you and hopefully your surgeon can help find the cause.
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  • Hey there...no sense trying to guess at MRI results. I have done the same thing with my own and sometimes I'm right and sometimes I am not.

    Then I get the radiology report and think...darn, I would have never seen any of that stuff.

    I've had 2 microdiscectomies on L5-S1. I do find I have some sacrum pain as well. I spoke to my doctor about it and he said it's possible but that if I'm sitting too long, it's going to add to it. I had also taken a plane ride which he told me was horrible for my back and tailbone area.

    Anyhow, I'm of little help but I just stopped in to say I hope you get to see your NS soon.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Did you ever use a bone growth stimulator? I've had one since about a week after I got home and thus have been using it 24/7 for 12 weeks.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • It's not uncommon to experience pain in the sacrum or SI Joints after an L5/S1 fusion. It's natural for the joints above and below the fused level to experience some additional stress from the immobile level. My fusion, L4-S1 was almost 3 yeas ago and I still experience monthly flare ups of my SI Joints. I've just learned to except that its gonna hurt there when I'm bad or I sleep wrong.

    My Doctor did not order an MRI when checking my progress to see how I was fusing. Instead, I had a CT Scan. On some pictures it appeared that I was fused and on others not. The 3D reconstruction showed exactly where I was, which was fused at one level and partially at another. Don't beat yourself up. Wait to see what your surgeon has to say.

    In looking at your image it appears that you don't have any hardware. Is this correct? Did your surgeon lay down a bone bridge between the lamina in addition to the interbody fusion.

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