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I know it's been asked lots of times but please advise me on fusion

mazza74mmazza74 Posts: 21
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, my neurosurgeon has warned me that I am very likely to require a lumbar spine fusion for l4/l5 and possibly l5/s1. I have been told that they are going to insert a needle into each disc to test if it is them or the nerves that are causing my issues.
I'm looking to find out peoples experiences of fusion at these levels - I know nothing about it except that the surgeon has said that it will be operated from the back, and that it will involve articial bone instead of grafts. What type of fusion is it? Here's a little bit of background info about my situation...Both discs have DDD, and in sept 2010 I had emergency laminectomy/discectomy of l4/l5 as it prolapsed into the spinal canal causing me to end up with cauda equina syndrome - loss of bowel continence and sensation. Since the operation I have continued to have bad back/sciatica issues and bowel disturbances which are making my life a misery. I have had 3 MRI scans in total at my second MRI I was told that I was left with foramina narrowing at the l5/S1 which means that the sciatic nerve is being pinched continually. This means I have chronic daily leg/foot pain and tire very easily after even short walks/periods of standing. (Not great as I am a 36 Year old secondary school teacher - teaching a practical/design subject, with a young child of 2.)I had spinal nerve block injections to help with the bilateral leg pain on the 3rd March - but just 6 weeks in and the pain has returned and was so bad again that I was sure something was happening all over again. Anyway, my last MRI was yesterday and I managed to get a cancellation appt. to see my consultant today to go over the results. It turns out that the portion of the l4/l5 disc that was left in my spine at the last surgery has now started to move into the space in the spinal canal again - hence compressing the nerves yet again - hence I am having contincence issues etc all over again.
I feel so down about my health lately and appreciate any of you taking the time to help me by answering. I know that having a fusion done is a matter of personal choice in the end but I'm pretty sure that I'm going to end up having this done because my life feels like it is on hold at the moment. What are your experiences?.... Good /Bad, what to expect, advice you can give etc.
Thanks everyone.
x Marie


  • its not your fault ..your health ..its like bad luck its not personal ..sxxxt happens to good people all the time ..you talked about needles being put in your spine to test the disk ..that's called a discography .now i have had mid done because i am having ALIF surgey this sept ..{anterior lumbar intervertebral body fusion } the discography is not a nice thing to have done anyone that's had it done with agree with me on that ..please ask for sedation because i am being totally honest with you i am a 16 stone man and was reasonable robust and i did not have any where near enough sedation and i let rip in the day theater when he pushed the needle in my spine it hurt like hell.i don't want to scare you .just prepare you .if you ask you will be given sedation and if you don't feel sedate enough ASK FOR MORE .and providing you have no medical history that forbids you having sedation {very unlikely} you should not remember the procedure.when you go for it take you husband /boyfriend or anyone that can support and drive you home .the discography will take anything from a few days to a few weeks to heel ..the reason they do a discography is to make sure that the disc above can take all the metal work without crumbling away ..{its like hanging a shelf on a wall without first putting in wall plugs to hold the screws .the fusion ..you have not said the one your going to have .can take anyhting from a few months to a few years to heel and for you to recover . a fusion is a massive operation and as you have had previous surgey it will be harder for the consultant to do the job well ..so do yourself another favour when you have had your fusion and you get home .do exactly what you have been told to do from the physio dept .dont lift /bend or twist.if you haven't already got on a rise and recline recliner would be a sound investment because if you cant sleep in your bed you should be able to get some sleep on your recliner and it will help you stand up {if its an electric one .i wish you all the best ..i really do i am terrified too about my surgey but support is very good here .take care and i hope i have given you some good advice
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Thank you Tony. I have asked my surgeon for sedation for this procedure and he has said thats fine. Best of luck for your up coming operation. I feel like there really is no other way forward but this now.
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  • (1) why is your surgery so far in the future (september)

    (2) I had the discographty without sedation and it was fine. It was a sonofab* worth of pain, but it only lasted a short while. I think if you have a VERY GOOD discographer (usually a pain management doctor) then you can handle it without sedation. I felt zero pain at the two test levels and a helluva lot of pain at L5-S1. I didn't know that was where he was at, but found out later. and it corresponded perfectly with the MRI and my pain results. I actually go to see my orthopedic surgeon today to see if I will need a fusion or not. I wish you a lot of luck, it sounds like you really need it (and the fusion). Hugs. Kim
  • are waiting times are very long especially for complex spinal surgey .i have been refused surgey by 4/5 consultant because my spine is in such a mess .there are only about 3 consultant in the UK that could attempt a repair on my spine and my Mr s is one other them he has a massive private waiting list over 6 months and the NHS waiting list is now over 12 months for URGENT patients .i am down as very urgent !!but still i have been waiting nearly 12 months and my discography was last June and it did hurt like hell .i have had every spinal injection and not felt much pain but because of all the scar tissue and other crap in there it hurt like hell .another consultant tried to give me an epidural and it was so bad she nearly broke the needle and she had to go from sedation to a full GA as i was in so much pain .{there is a thread on here about two years ago}.i know i am only having 3 levels done but its because of the amount of viable spine left and all the risks involved is the reason most consultant wont go near me its too technical for them .my consultant only deals with end stage back failure...sorry for hijacking your thread ..but i was asked a question ...over to you !
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • :jawdrop: I was just curious . . .

    I actually have no idea what my wait time will be if my doctor decides to go through with the surgery.

    Sorry for asking the other question, part two was for you. I know how hard it is to have bad back pain with little ones in the house. I fell off a roof over ten years ago, when my kids were 4 and 6. I feel like I have missed so much . . . I hope your fusion works out . . .
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  • Hi. I don't have a date for fusion yet, or for the discogram. The sept date was 2010 when I had emergency surgery for cauda equina syndrome - a laminectomy/discectomy of l4/5 as it was crushing the spinal cord. In response to the other messages - yes the uk health service have huge waiting lists anyway so by the time they get round to sorting me out it will probably be sept 2011 knowing my luck!
  • to you both :)))
  • My older brother had a spinal fusion done and it was awful. He had this huge scar down his back and recovery was like 2 months. Have you considered laser surgery? I've been looking at these minimally invasive surgery centers, outpatient, and you are good to resume your normal life the next day. I'm having problems with my lumbar and definitely do not want any sort of fusion process after seeing what my brother went through.
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