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Surgery expanded from 1 to 3 level Fusion ... Yikes.

XenaPortlandXXenaPortland Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

I just finished up a whole day of testing and pre-op stuff. I found out that instead of doing a single level fusion at L5-S1 (recommended from just the X-Ray), the surgeon decided after seeing my MRI that he wants to expand it to:

L4-S2 : Laminectomy
L3-S1 : Fusion
L5 : Cage (Bohlman Technique)

Whew. I was scared before, now I'm beyond scared and just plain numb. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, the MRI results were terrifying (shows L5 and S1 crunched right together, no disk at all, with L5 mangled and broken looking).

Surgery is this Friday, just 4 days away. I am exhausted from just trying to understand what my life will be like post-surgery :(

- Xena


  • Xena - I can imagine that must have really thrown you, but it's good that your doctor did the MRI, so he is prepared going in, and you didn't wake up with a surprise that it was a more extensive surgery than you thought.

    If you haven't yet, you might want to check elsewhere on the site for things to do to be prepared for surgery and afterward. I think the best thing I had for either cervical or lumbar surgery is a good recliner. Feel free to ask any questions on the site. My lumbar was minor compared to yours but I would think there are others who could help with potential additional issues. My surgery and recovery went well. I am still waiting to see how much it will help.

    Best wishes
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • I hadn't thought about that. You're right though, at least I know what to expect now.

    I have done quite a lot of prep. I do have a recliner, but I don't like it "right now" because it makes my back hurt. Then again, every place I sit hurts my back, so I can't tell if it is a good or bad recliner!! My kids say it is comfortable, so I'm hoping I like it better after surgery.

    It is good to hear your surgery went well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that mine does.
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  • Did the surgeon discuss going to a rehab hospital, post op? That is one heck of a lot of work and will take a lot out of you. Ins. will cover this, given the extent of the surgery. Best wishes.
  • you have youth on your side .all i can say is i wish you health and inner strength to get through your operation .just remember your operation is big and recovery will be very long so keep that in mind .i am nearly 3 months post op from a 2 level ALIF fusion and still having new problems from it .your very brave
    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
  • I'm just in tears when I read such nice supporting things. I'm divorced, but I have two teenage kids at home who seem really willing to help. Of course, they are teenagers and I know that they don't really understand how much things are going to change for the next few months (at least).

    I also have my fraternal twin sister coming in the night before surgery, and she is going to stay at least until I'm home and functioning. Add in a few friends and even my says he's willing to help, and I'm hoping I can get through this.

    Thanks again everyone :)

    - Xena
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  • Xena,

    Sorry to hear your doctor expanded your surgery. I will keep you in my thoughts in prayers, but just by knowing that you're divorced I can bet you are one tough woman! It sounds like your doctor's training in Seattle has paid off since he covered his bases before surgery, rather than dealing with it after the fact.

    I went through the same pre-op procedures as you today and my doctor has added a a couple things to my surgery as well. Still a C6/C7 ACDF but now with a corpectomy and a titanium cage since he has to remove the C7 vertebrae. He said my spinal cord was compressed for so long that most likely I will not get rid of the numbness and tingling and that I will always have neck pain. I'm still determined to be riding my bike by the end of summer though :-)

  • You sure have a great attitude about things! I think you are right, he has expanded the surgery after looking at all the tests and that is a good thing that he did this before the operation, so I don't end up surprised.

    I'm sorry to hear you have some new things in your surgery too. I've been reading about "cages" and they are pretty interesting. What I can't believe is that all of this hardware in my back isn't going to hurt all the time. It sure seems like it should, but I guess for most people it doesn't.

    I too am hoping that the nerve damage will get better, and just like you the doctor doesn't seem super hopeful aout that. I have noticed, though, that at night my "dropped foot" is much worse than it is around 10 in the morning, when it seems to be the best. I'm wondering if that is because of tissue swelling in my back when I move around during the day, which then causes more nerve problems. So logically the surgery should at least eliminate that kind of problem (keeping my fingers crossed). At the moment, I have to be incredibly careful later in the day when walking or going up/down stairs or I will trip or my right leg will give out suddenly.

    Are those all your kids in your photo? You look like you have a beautiful family. All that love will surely help your recovery :)

    - Xena
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