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Disk Replacement and Fusion in One Operation, Help???

charmedsoul13ccharmedsoul13 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone,
First and foremost, I must say this site is amazing. I am new to this forum and am quite young, only 24. I wish I would have known about this site when I first began my battle with back pain my junior year of High School way back in 2003.
A brief history: I did not have an accident nor do I have family with severe back problems, I am the only child and I have already had three laminectamies for a single disk, my L4 which had herniated multiple times. So many times that I finally got it replaced with the Flexicore as I was able to get into a trial for the disk in SanFrancisco in 2006. I did not heal well from the disk replacement. I healed some, enough to begin college but sadly, I am now three weeks away from graduating summa cum laude with my Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies and I was just accepted into the summer multiple subject credential teaching program at Fresno State and have managed to herniate my L5-S1 and now have a very large buldge at my L3. I am in such severe pain in my buttock (particularly my coccyx) down both legs to where I cannot walk nor sit, I am now bed ridden and pleading with my professors to help me finish my school work from home so that I can graduate.

I have spoken with my SF surgeon and he wants to fuse the L5 disk because fusion is acceptable for that disk as the above disk, L4 is metal anyway and then insert a new disk (not the Flexicore because that one isn't FDA approved yet because it just lost funding "go figure"). Has anyone heard of this being done in one operation? I would think it unusual as my surgeon would have to go in from my spine and my stomach all in one go. I have to drive from Fresno to SF and I did not ask him HOW he would do the operation because we were just tentatively talking about doing it last week, plus I wasn't in as much pain then as I am now. Has anyone had this done? Any help or guidance would be appreciated.

I know how long and how much pain I was in for my first disk replacement and honestly I vowed I would never do it again but I now am in so much pain in my feet, knees, back, buttocks, hips, and legs, I cannot function. They have now put me on morphine and like I said I am still trying to finish school so it is a tall order for the next three weeks of school so prayers are welcome and some advice.

Thank you.


  • Fusing L5-S1 and putting an ADR in the level(s) above it is not so uncommon anymore.

    What disc is being proposed to be installed in place of the flexi? Wonderful advancements in ADRs have happened in the last 24 months.

    I was in my 1st month of the semester when I blew out my L5-S1 disc and had to drop out. The school would not refund my money.

    Fight hard to not lose your current schooling.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Paul... thanks for the reply. So sorry to hear about your blow out, I swear our tires get worn out so fast some times as we not only like to drive our cars fast but our bodies too apparently. I cannot believe you did not get your money back, with medical proof of your condition there should have been no problem.

    So far... as of today, many of my professors are willing to work with me and help finish up from home, but I am still waiting on a couple of the instructors to decide on if they want to take a little extra time out of their day to basically answer some e-mails. I will keep fighting.

    As for the replacement disk I think my surgeon said the ProDisk but again I am uncertain. I am getting a second opinion ASAP before I jump into anything again. Plus I need to do a lot more research on my own.

    Thanks again.
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  • Well your story is very VERY similar to mine. I want to give you that info first before giving you my option. I am going to write my "story” and my battle so you get to know what I am going through and how similar our situations are. My issues started when I was 31 and I know that you are younger which makes me understand fully. So here is the story....

    I am a 41 year old mother that has suffered spinal issues for 10 soon to be 11 years. The issues I battle everyday are I have Degenerative Disc Disease., Fibromyalgia, Herniated Disc, Bulged, Torn Disc, as well as Arthritis. In Sept I had a Spinal Fusion L4 and Disc Replacement, Titanium Rods and screws.
    In 2002 I lifted my son into a playpen and the best way to describe what I felt was an electrical shock of some sort. That day changed my life. Long story and tons of details left out, I had every treatment I could to try to relieve the pain. After two years of suffering through horrible pain, and scared to death of surgery, I gave in and was told I had to have a laminectomy.
    I was told it was a fairly simple procedure, and I would be normal again afterward. Let's just say that day still hasn’t come. I have suffered, and suffered. Throughout the years, the problem brought about other issues. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2006 and unexpectedly became pregnant with my youngest son later that year. He had colic for a year to the point no doctor could help him, all he did was cry. I had to carry and lift him throughout that entire year. In 2008, my left leg and foot went numb. I became severely depressed. I have been to Chiropractic, physical therapy, Epidurals, Tens Units, Neck decompression, Cortisone shots, Acupuncture, as well as many other homeopathic treatments. I cannot explain the amount of pain day in and day out it was working full time trying to support my children and deal with this all over chronic pain, as well as the horrific pain in my back every day as well as my neck. My hands became horribly numb, as it’s taken me to come back and forth to this forum entry at least six times to type. It got to the point I couldn’t work full time at all. I lost everything I have worked so hard to have. My home, my business, my truck, all my savings trying to make up for the lost amount of work, my 401k plan, and retirement, as well as my dignity.
    It has been a living hell .The Fibromyalgia is horrific each day to live like this is insanity.
    I pushed on until I honestly couldn’t take it anymore in January 2010 I stopped working 100%, and in July 2010 my entire left side went numb, I could no longer walk. I decided I was going to have another surgery obviously every doctor I was seeing (and there are 4 in my team) said (It's time). I saw two top surgeons. I went with Doctors Name Removed which is the most sought after neurosurgeon in Maryland and on the East Coast. He told me I waited entirely too long and the DDD was very bad, that my disc L$ was gone completely and was smashing my sciatic nerve making my entire leg and foot so painful and numb, causing me not to be able to walk. I cannot describe the depression I was and am in. On Sept. 27th 2010 I underwent a spinal fusion, disc replacement, titanium rods and screws. Cut front and back during an 8 hour surgery. They cut me in the back to try to correct nerve damage as well as scrapped 1.5 hours of arthritis and scar tissue out from the first surgery.
    I woke up in agonizing pain. The recovery was horrible. I had thought I knew pain....Dear God!.
    I had to wait 12 weeks to even start Physical Therapy. In December I faced the music that I would never be able to work again. I couldn’t stand, or sit, or be in any position for more than 10 minutes without being uncomfortable. I was coming back from the Disability Attorney and was at a red light 4 months out of this huge surgery. I was at a complete stop and was rear ended by a truck which totaled my truck and did extensive damage to my entire situation with my back, the impact was huge and the disc above my fusion actually bulged. The accident also herniated and tore disc in my neck which caused the CTS to worsen terribly. I am trying to get Disability and it looks as if my home will be up for sale date within 60 days. It is beyond the worse time in my life. I pray I get the Disability as I need it more than you can imagine.
    I just wanted to vent through and with those who have gone through this type of pain and life. My boys are the only thing that keeps me going.

    In your case Charmedsoul13 I feel after 11 years of this, and having a single disc herniated twice and then having to have it replaced and removed I know it’s all about having the right doctor. I know you live in Cali, but I can tell you if there is anyway your parents or a family member can bring you to Maryland we have one of the best Neurosurgeons in the world. His name is Doctor's Name Removed; he is the Chief of Neurosurgery at Facility Name Removed. I know the name has "center" in it, however it is a large and very reputable "one of the best" hospitals. It is ranked up there with Facility Name Removed, which is also here in Maryland as well. Having the right doctor with this large of a procedure is everything, as you can only be fused so many times. It took a long time for me to recover, but slowly this issue is getting better. I have so many issues all the way from my Cervical Spine to my S1, so the degeneration is getting me little by little. My neck needs to be fused, and my hands need surgery desperately. You can get through this! I am certainly not telling you it’s easy, or that there won’t be any pain, but you have to face it and you have to be strong. Having a spinal Fusion and Disc replacement all at once kept me out of a wheelchair. The doctor told me straight to my face, if you do not do this, your disc degenerated and is sitting as well as smashing your sciatic nerve, you will be in a wheelchair. His percentages on the numbness as well as the pain leaving were very accurate. And I am much better off now than being in a wheel chair. So the advice I can give is if you decide to have the surgery in Cali, do a lot of research on the doctor. But as far as having the disc replacement and fusion all at once, yes this is normal for your situation. You wouldn’t want to have one done at a time, recovery would be double. I don’t even think you can anyway....you will get through it Charmed. Keep me posted, add me to your buddy list. Any questions I can answer for you please feel free to ask.
    I wish you the very best.


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    Post Edited by Administrator Dave

  • I just had my 3rd fusion and this one was with a disc replacement before the fusion. It was L5/S1. I have also had a 360 fusion where they go in front and back. Both are fairly common. I have gotten great relief from all my fusions (each one was a little different). Good luck and I hope you can graduate and continue your life.


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in, PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol which barely touches the pain.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • The ProDisc is now considered "old school" technology.
    Look into the newer technology discs. The Spinal Kinetics M6 is an example of this new type of medical advancement.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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