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360 ALIF - How long does actual Surgery Take?

shangree01sshangree01 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am having a 360 ALIF of the L5/S1 on Monday, June 6th. I, like any normal person, am a bit nervous.

How long does the actual surgery take on an average? I do know I have alot of scar tissue in my abdomen from prior surgeries, so in my case might take a bit longer. But on a normal scale, how long should the procedure tend to take from start to finish?

Also, My Dr said to expect a 2 day hospital stay. Reading some other posts, it seems that many stayed longer? Or is 2 days a normal time. Of course I am sure each person is different. I'm a 38 year old Female. Pretty healthy. Could tend to lose a few pounds, but it's been so hard to do any exercise with the pain.

I'm looking forward to this surgery as the pain has been beyond tolerable. Is there any other information that anyone would like to share regarding this type of surgery? I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance!



  • I had the same surgery on L4/L5 4 years ago. My surgery took 6 hours and I was in the hospital 5 days. I returned to work in 3 weeks. I am very active and I know that helped in my recovery. The first few days in the hospital were agony but then it gets better. Good luck.


    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 and a nice bolt from my spine to my pelvis; PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol.
    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.
  • Both parts of your questions depends on several factors;

    1. Is your surgeon using a vascular surgeon to assist? Most ortho and neuro docs use vascular docs to gain access to the spine from the front.

    2. What insurance you have. Some policies don't allow as much time as others for recovery in the hospital.

    3. What type of hardware is being installed also can add/take away time on the table.

    I had an L4-S1 done and was on the table about 7 hours from what I'm told (can't say I remember it!). I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. I was glad to go home after 4 days. It was tough! Just keep in mind that a fusion is a pretty major assault on your body at first. Recovery is slow, so don't force it.

    There are a couple people who have posted on this site that were sent home one day after surgery. Kind of nuts, but I guess things worked out for them.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
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  • Thanks to you both!

    Keith, Yes, I also am having a General surgeon work with my other Dr. So he will make the cavity and then also close me back up when finished.

    My Insurance is First Administrators. They have not had any problems with any of the treatments so far. So I do not think that will have an issue.

    THe hardware will be the cage and screws and plates.

    I guess I was thinking the surgery would be around 2 hours! I better make sure I ask first thing Mon morning huh? LOL Just so my family is not panicking when it goes past that! :-)

    Thanks again. Any other input from anyone would be great!

  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I haven't had a 360 fusion, but a one-level posterior TLIF to fix stenosis, facet joint problems and spondylolisthesis.

    Time on the table and in recovery really vary from person to person. My surgery was a bit longer than expected (3.5 hours) as they found things were worse once they got in there (that seems fairly common), but the major thing was that I was in recovery almost two hours longer than expected. That's what scared my family. They knew the surgery was over and kept expecting me in my room, but I just took a long time to get there.

    So, my point is that you can expect a certain surgery and recovery time, but can't rely on it. Those waiting will just have to hang in there or if you're doing great, all will go as scheduled.

    Good luck with your surgery and please plan on taking good care of yourself during home recovery. Take your meds on schedule, rest when needed and start walking as soon as you can, little distances to start and working up to longer distances as you heal.

    Fusion surgery is a major assault on your body, like Keith said, so it takes time to feel better after this surgery.

    Take care and be sure to keep us posted.
  • Thank you Cathie! Nice thing to keep in mind.... the recovery part also.

    I have had a Laparotomy (Sp?) on my abdomen years back after a C-section for scar tissue issues. I have tons of scar tissue.

    I then just had my Appendix out May 13th, and it took a tad longer just for that because of the scar tissue. So I am keeping that in mind with this upcoming surgery. I Told the Dr's at pre-op to feel free to do a tummy tuck at the time. :-) (Kidding of course)

    How long were you in the hospital after the surgery? Again, I know everyone is different, but it's nice to hear other's who went through this.

    I am a bit nervous. I have a 5 & 7 yr old boys at home. We have been talking to them about how I won't be able to do much at all at home afterwards, but they are young and sure it will be harder on them then they think. Luckily, I have a great spouse and Mom who will keep them busy for me to let me recover.

    I'm hoping I can go back to work BEFORE the 6 weeks is over, but not going to rush it by any means. I have no physical things at work. I work customer service type work. So we will see.

    Thanks again for your support! :-)
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  • I had PLIF of L5/S1 on March 18th of this year.

    The estimated surgery to take 4 hours. Due to unexpected problems it took just over 5 hours. I was in the OR for actually 6 hours. I took about 45 minutes to prep me in the OR and for the surgeon to actually be ready to start. I was in the recovery room for 2 hours. I spent 2 days in the hospital. I could have stayed another day but I was ready at 2.

    Best of luck with your surgery. May you have great results.
  • I had 2 surgeons, forgot to mention that in the earlier post. I had a vascular surgeon and my back surgeon.


    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 and a nice bolt from my spine to my pelvis; PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol.
    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.
  • Hi Shannon,

    I think the time you remain in the hospital post-op all depends on your surgeon, your insurance, any complications and how well you do post op.

    I had a one level ALIF, and I think it took about two hours (cut to stitch-up) for the actual procedure. That is not counting the time I spent back in the pre-op holding area and then in recovery.

    Take it easy when you get home. It is a big surgery!

    TO EMS GUY::I am one of those who went home the next day. My surgery started at 1pm, and I went to my room a little after 5pm. I was discharged the next morning at 9am, for a two hour ride home. I don't know if it was because of WC insurance or because my doc is not a nice person. It was not a good thing. I would never agree to that if I had it to do over. I think you need at least a couple of days to make sure there are no problems. Don't let them ship you home before you are ready!!
  • I had my surgery on a Wednesday and went home late Friday afternoon. My doc wanted my to stay until Saturday, but my nurse was in cahoots with me to get the doc to let me go home a day early. I was ready, they just wanted to be sure I wasn't draining more than 50ml during Friday. I was right at 50ml and my nurse said it was actually at 48 because some had been left over. LOL She was fantastic.

    I agree that going home too soon is not a good thing. You really need a couple of days to learn to walk again, get some strength built up and just be mentally ready for recovery.

    Then there's the PT person, who comes in every day and makes you walk and test you on common things to make sure you can do them, things like getting on and off the toilet by yourself, getting in and out of a car, climbing stairs, getting into the tub, etc. That person also has to clear you to be able to go home. If you can't do all that stuff, you have to wait until you can.

    So, if I were you Shannon, I'd plan on at least two days in the hospital. I feel for you having kids at home, but glad you have help from hubby and mom. That's going to be very necessary for the first couple of weeks. Sometimes things get worse in the first weeks after you get home before they start to get better, but it will get better. Just try to measure your recovery in weeks, not days.

    Are you ready at home? Did you check out the Post-op Must Haves sticky at the top of Surgery section? You won't need everything, but some of the things are imperative, such as a grabber, silk sheets or pajamas for getting out of bed, a walker or cane (just in case), a shower chair and lots of pillows.

    I also wish you luck going back to work at six weeks - I don't think I could've gone back to any type of works for three months or so after my surgery, but it is different for everyone.

    Take care and again, keep us posted.
  • and he has told me that following my ALIF {3 level} the surgey would take between 7/9 hours i will wake up in ITU then in to high dependency then on a orthopaedic ward ..my hospital stay will be anything from 7/9 days maybe even more .recovery will be 12 months to get over the surgey then another 2 years of physio and recovery to get to be as goo as i am ever going to get
    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
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