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Fusion or disc replacement?

DJCDDJC Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi there :)

I have been suffering from serious back pain for the past 20 months. I have extreme back pain, sciatica, dropped foot etc. Today my surgeon informed me he will either be performing two spinal fusions (L4-5 and L5-S1) or disc replacements. Does anybody have any advice as to what they would choose? I am leaning towards the fusion.

Also, 4 years ago I had a microdiscectomy. It was successful and I was pain free for a year. Unfortunately, I have to have another surgery. Any tips or information is appreciated! Thanks!



  • Well what 1 is he doing fusion or adr? When is he going to decide what surgery he wants to do when surgery is over?

    Fusion can be done from the back and adr is always done from the front, So i hope for your sake he knows what 1 he is doing,

    Unless he is refering to 1 level fused and other level adr to try to preserve motion in the spine,

    If micro d worked in previous years i would see if they have a way to save the disc and try it again posibly to get it off the nerve because its much less invasive or make sure to try all alternarive treatnents before such big surgery,

    Both adr ir fusion surgery have there own set of risks,

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • DJC,

    Just a little insight, because I fought that battle, of surgery, no surgery, etc...???
    Here was the bottom line for me: I did try all non- surgical treatments like: PT, medications, stretching, injections, etc, etc. Nothing worked and I began to consider surgery.

    Finally having the "Discogram" as final testing and going with a fusion was my option. I know I made the right choice because my Dr. found 2 ruptured discs that were leaking, and this was the source of my pain. No other treatments would have fixed this problem. The "Discogram" is the only test that can prove the pain is disc pain coming from the ruptures.

    If ALL non-surgical treatments fail, tell them to do a "Discogram".
    Good luck, and hang in there. Please feel free to IM me with more in depth questions and I will be happy to help. Thanks,

    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
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  • you will need medical tests like a discography maybe a CT scan to see what state your other disk are in .ADR is a relatively new operation {20 years old or so } fusion have been going a lot longer
    please don't fool yourself in to thinking one is better than the other or you will have an easier time in theater .both are MAJOR OPERATIONS with long recovery times .i am 4 months post op from ALIF fusion and believe me i have been to hell and back .i pray you don't find yourself in the same situation ever all the best
    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
  • It's so hard to say. It's a good thing your doctor can do both. I would say do all the research on here and other places online. There are some good statistics that you can find for each type of artificial disc. Use the forum search field, it really does help.

    I know it is a tough decision that a lot of us face. For me, I decided the fusion but have been researching both still. My surgery was supposed to be yesterday but got postponed due to abnormal EKG.

    Grade 4 tear in l4/l5 was missed in first MRI so did injections for a year
    SI joints "messed up" not sure if I will get them fused at a later time
    Had Open PLIF L4/L5 5/28/13
    Woke up to permanent nerve damage in legs and feet.
  • Tough choices but I think that by posting this question here and looking for information online, you are already taking good steps toward a better outcome for yourself. Research, research, research.

    If you choose fusion, you have to know that the loads carried by the two discs being removed are now going to be carried by L2-L3 and L3-L4. This might wear those discs out faster and cause more problems in the future.

    If you choose ADR, you should look into the different versions and different brands. They have different designs and brands and models. Last I looked into it, the Spinal Kinetics M6 was the newer design but that was a year or two ago.

    Amazing advances are being made with these technologies, and ADRs from 4 years ago, even 3 years ago are obsolete. As mentioned, there are forums online that focus on ADRs. Let us know if you are interested and one of us will private message their names to you as we are not allowed to post them here.
    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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