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L-5 Fusion

kyadog115kkyadog115 Posts: 266
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone...
I havent been on in a while becuase I just moved again but I need to post this......I saw my neuro yesterday, He's recommending either a fusion @ L-5 S-1 or he is offering me an implant device. A Neuro transmitter I believe it is. I havent yet watched the dvd he gave me to view but I dont care too much for the sound of it. He said its less invasive than fusion as it's implanted just under the skin.If i liked it after a week or so,they would then have to implant the battery for it. I'm going to elect the actual fusion but he scared me to death telling me all the things that COULD go wrong during the operation. I reaize they have to tell us this stuff but wow ! Anyway, he also said I MUST quit smoking and be nicotine free for 1 month prior to the surgery or he will not operate. I've been smoking 40 years and dont know if I can quit. I'd like to cuz it is killing me,not even to mention the cost in New York for cigs. can the detect nicotine in the bloodstream? I assume they can.Also, he claims recovery from fusion is about 3-6 weeks. Since I live alone he thought perhaps he'd send me to an inpatient recovery center for assistance. Will I need a lotta help afterwards and how bad is recovery...will I be able to do anything? I have some time yet to make a decision,but here I go again, buggin out and being scared...any thoughts?


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Personally I'd try the fusion first. Once you get a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) implanted you can't have MRI's and if there is a reason for your pain that can be fixed all the SCS is doing is masking the pain impulses. SCS is often used as a last resort when surgeries, medications, epidural injections, etc have not worked. So if a surgeon gave me the option for a fusion and it was a viable option, or an SCS, I'd take the surgery first. If after all treatments I didn't have relief then I'd consider an SCS.

    Maybe consider a second opinion with another Neurosurgeon or Orthopedic Spine Surgeon.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I can't believe your surgeon told you recovery was only 3 to 6 weeks. I do not believe that is the norm.. esp is you are having a posterior approach fusion. I am at 14 weeks and still having pain and off of work. Now I know everyone heals differently..but 3 to 6 weeks does not seem accurate in my opinion. I hate it when doctors do not give a reasonable time frame for recovery. because then you feel like something is wrong if you are not better by that time.

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  • Paul, I really suggest that you watch the video, it will explain a lot.

    While it's true you can't get an MRI if you have a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) placed because it contains metal, you can still have a lot of other tests done, such as X-rays, CT scans, and myelograms. No matter what, your surgeon would have a pretty good impression of what's going on with your spine before implanting anything, either an SCS or surgical hardware.

    I myself have a decision to make about using a stimulator vs. permanently changing more of my spine with surgery. I've already had a lot done to my cervical spine; I just don't like the idea of destroying more bone and adding more hardware. I also have about 8 herniations in my thoracic spine, about 4 of which are highly symptomatic, and that's an area that simply isn't easy to work on surgically so carries a bit more risk.

    If you think about it, nothing is a "fix." Surgery, including fusions, just changes your anatomy, and if you're fortunate, the surrounding areas won't be affected too much or too soon. I don't look at stimulators as masking anything -- I know the problem is there, and it won't make it feel like a spine without problems. It will just make it more comfortable for me to deal with issues that, let's face it, are not life threatening but deeply affect my quality of life.

    For me, it makes more sense to have a stimulator. If it stops working, or my anatomy changes so much that I need more drastic surgery, the SCS can always be removed in the future.
  • I personally would try the fusion before the SCS - yes you need to few all the info. he gives you. For the recovery of a fusion you need to define "recovery" - it may be 4-6 weeks to feel your "normal self", and no bending, lifting or twisting for at least 6 weeks, but it may take up to a year to be fully fused. I'd say you need some help for at least two weeks - you kind of adapt as far as learning how to use grabbers etc. I would be highly, highly surprised to hear of any insurance companies covering a step-down "inpatient recovery" place for a single level fusion. I personally took a lot longer than six weeks and I still resent my surgeon telling me I should be "fine" by 6 weeks.
    In answer to your question, they can detect nicotine in both urine and bloodstream very easily - its not in your interest to fake it anyway, the risk of not fusing is too high and the pain of a non-fusion (pseudoarthroses) is worse than any herniation. If you don't think you can quit, go for the SCS.
  • if there's a mechanical issue that can be addressed by fusion, the chances of the scs being successful for very long if at all are slim. a fusion while as has been pointed out, causes structural change and adaptation within your body, so does an scs. most don't realize how adaptive a person with a spinal cord stimulator has to become in order to minimize the risk of damaging the scs.

    definitely watch the dvd and get a better idea of what your doc is talking about. also check out some of the faq's on spinal cord stimulation in the scs forum https://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/spinal-cord-stimulation

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  • Whew! It has not been near as bad (yet) as I feared. I have good and bad days and nights. Today has been a good day NOPAIN anywhere. Made my first trip to Wal Mart yesterday and was not in tears from pain when I left woo hoo. I do have some pain in opposite side than before surgery sometimes bad but so far so good. I think getting it fixed early make all the difference don't keep "trying" alternative things because your nerves will become more damaged and be in More pain in recovery because of this. Each person feels their own ideals each person heals differently feels differently. Just my opinion.

  • Great to have you back! :D
    Also great to hear how well you are doing.
    I also found that my PLIF wasn't as bad as I'd feared.
    Doesn't it feel great to be on this side of surgery. All the anxiety gone.
    All we need to do now is rest and heal :-)

    You are doing really well for so early in your recovery.
    Mind you don't overdo it! :O
  • :< I feel good and then I walk too much then when i feel ood I get tired of laying around get bored and miserable. So I have to learn to SLOW down.
  • keys stuck shoulda checked before I posted I feel good and walk too much then I hurt later basically :P

  • Connie,
    Did you know that you can go back in and edit any mistakes?
    Look at the bottom right hand corner of your text box. There will be a button 'edit'. Just press on that and you can edit what you have said. :D
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