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Ifuse surgery - synopsis

I had ifuse surgery on 10-09-2012. I am a 51 yr old male who has lived with si dysfunction for 8+ years. Let me know if you have an interest in my story, surgery experience and outcome and I will add to this blog?


  • Hi Mangophil!

    I -- like a lot of other peeps on the forum -- have SI joint problems. And like others, I've had doctors misunderstand my symptoms, and I've tried so many things to fix the problem.

    What I'd appreciate knowing:
    How long have you been suffering?
    What, specifically, were your problems and issues?
    Do you have other back problems?
    What other treatments did you try?
    How did your doctors arrive at the decision to do iFuse, and how did you choose this doctor?
    What prognosis were you given?
    What are your limitations -- I mean now, and when you're 100% recovered?

    How do you feel now? And how long will recovery be?

  • It seems as if no one answers any of your questions or pm"s around here. LOL I posted 3 comments the other day which you should read and if you have any more questions just ask. Diane http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/sacroiliac-si-joint-problems/ifuse-surgery
    I had the SI-BONE ifuse implant procedure on August 6th 2012.
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  • MangophilMMangophil Posts: 13
    edited 11/05/2012 - 6:38 PM
    I am going to post several updates beginning with my current post op experience and them going backwards to explain more abOut my symptoms, diagnosis and Procedure.

    Its now tues nov 6th; election day and I am 4 weeks post oP!! I will have my first post op session with my surgeon actually tomorrow. Since I travel about 100 miles each way to his offices he wanted to be far enough post op such that the trip would not be too painful!

    After surgery, I was very sore and for the first 5 days I mostly laid around the house and watched an uneventful world series, agonizing presidential debates and some football! Most of my initial pain was from bruising! It is curious how over the 4 weeks the bruising moved from my lower back to my hip, buttocks and hamstring. At four weeks most of the bruising is gone with some slight residual. The bruising hasn't been painful but mostly has just made my leg stiff.

    I improved significantly those first five days but did rely on some pain killers to help with sleep. I also found defacating to be a challenge. Fortunately, I didn't have to go for several days since my surgeon had me do bowel prep and gave me an enema pre-surgery. He wanted to insure a good clear view during the surgery. The bowel prep and enema was no big deal so don't let that scare you if your considering ifuse. I also had to have a catheter after surgery because my bladder wasn't waking up! Now that was a laughing experience!! I'll tell you more about that if your interested!! Lol.

    My surgeon had no nwb restrictions- he actually wanted me to be mobile again quickly to avoid mistletoe atrophy and stiffness. He did have me on crutches as my right side was very sore and stiff such that loading my right leg was difficult.

    After the first five days, life got a lot better. I discarded the crutches, started to limp around and started to drive again. I rarely took any pain meds, except maybe a Tylenol. As I said, I was still very stiff and sore from the bruising and sitting for very long was difficult. I did start to return to activities; work although only a couple hours a day. I have an office job so I mostly just sit. I found myself having to stand for intervals. I was walking ok but slowly and gently.

    At 1-3 weeks post op, I was progressing very well. On good days I hardly noticed the soreness except when I got up in the am. But a am shower usually loosened up my right side and I was in pretty good shape. I still have periodic bad days. I think what happens is I over do it and then the si joint and healing bones balk! It seems as if the bones are still healing/fusing and some days the bones Around the si joint just ache. On these bad days I digress and experience some pain and soreness. I am still mobile but will dip into my pain meds for some help. Usually by the next day I am better than ever!!

    For example this past weekend was painful and bending over again was quite stiff. But wallah, by today I am better than ever. I was a bit nervous on Sunday thinking I had maybe dislodged a pin? I don't know if that is possible but with the sudden set back I was stumbling for a reason. I stupidly had done some 1/2 squats about 6 days ago and was thinking I had messed up the fusing..

    Overall, the first four weeks post op has been ok especially once I got past the first five days!! As for the so pain, I am just getting to the point that I can start to evaluate since the pain and bruising from the surgery has dominated my perceptions. I will provide a better view of my si pain relief after my appt along with other posts. I hope my post op experience helps and if you have any questions just post. Mangophil
  • Sounds like you are both well on your way to recovery. You must be so pleased with this.

    Hope you are great in the long term.
  • MangophilMMangophil Posts: 13
    edited 11/09/2012 - 7:24 AM
    I just had my 4 week post op follow up on 11-7-2012 and all is progressing well. I am able to walk pretty freely now and the small amount of bruising that remains has moved into my lower hamstring which is a little sore. But most of the bruising in the buttocks and hips have greatly subsided which has freed up my right leg. Except for that residual bruising I would say I feel about the same as prior to surgery.

    As for the SI joint itself, it aches a bit. I kind of think it might feel as a broken bone feels as new bone deposits build up around the pins and drill holes. The SIJD still feels about the same but it is hard to decipher exactly what the status of that is. I will report on that in upcomng entries.

    My dr says that I can return to all activities except for running - that needs to wait 3 more months. He also said to only do baby squats but I can do elliptical bike and other weights. I don't need any PT because I am pretty self sufficient and as stated, I have regained almost all of my mobility. I don't notice any reduction in mobility from the actual iFuse.

    I do want to comment on the surgery incision. Post Op day 1, pain from the incision itself was mostly unnoticeable. I think because the bruising in the buttocks and bone trauma dominated my senses. I was unable to sleep on my right side - surgery side for the first three weeks. My dr used internal dissolving sutures so the incision at 4 weeks is a little stiff but for the most part has remained supple and has healed over nicely. As I said, I will post more on all this on the other thread; MangoPhil
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  • MangophilMMangophil Posts: 13
    edited 11/09/2012 - 7:42 AM
    I have seen several comments about iFuse Doctors on various threads so want to provide a few comments - it matters!! I live in a 400,000 person market but only a couple of the Drs here are trained in iFuse and none of them had performed the procedure. And when they started to talk about CT scans; I wanted to run from any extra radiation than necessary. I contacted SI bone and asked for references and began calling. I located a Dr who had performed 50+ of the iFuse procedure (I was surgery 57) and had to drive about 90 miles each way to see him. He is in a rural market but is just one of those Dr who is on the leading edge.

    So first it was about making sure we had a reasonable diagnosis on SIJD and that I was a candidate for iFuse. Simultaneously, it was about making sure we had done sufficient tests and evaluations to insure that we had a full case for the insurance in case coverage should be challenged. And it was about keeping Xrays to a minimum - this Dr uses MRIs for tests. And since he was experienced, theoretically, he should be able to perform the procedure faster so less time under floural!! But most importantly, he had both the experience to do the procedure correctly and without error (not hit an artery or a nerve) and also he had a sound recovery protocol; i.e. crutches for a few days, full weight bearing as soon as tolerable, pain meds as necessary. My dr actually inserts as many pins as he can across the SI with a minimum of 3 and upto 5 for bigger people. I am taller and he put in 4 pins. He wants to maximize the fusing strenth provided by the pins.

    As a side note, I have always rationalized that a good surgeon (general doctor too) is more important than a good bedside manner or being prompt to office exams. In fact, it seems that a good surgeon / doctor is usually an analytical type which usually mean they aren't necessarily people persons and may have a few quirks!!
  • At 5 weeks since surgery - I feel great; just a little residual soreness but hardly noticeable. This weekend I cut the grass- push mower, worked out at the gym- limited routine and did the elliptical bike!! And no setbacks!! Unfortunately, the sijd has only improved marginally- I still notice joint pain. But my dr said some patients get immediate improvement but most it will be 4+ months after more complete fusing and the si has less and less movement! So I remain very optimistic!
  • Going back to the beginning my symptoms originated many years ago. When I ran I noticed a dull impact in my right si joint but of course at that time I didn't know what an si was or that I had one. As time went by the pain became more noticeable but mostly only on heal strike or on the golf backswing! Bo 2005, running had become Almost impossible without heavy use of NSAIDs and a sneeze sent a quiver of pain into the joint! The si also tired quickly while doing yardwork or playing with the kids - 10 minutes to borrow a phrase from the Chinese delivery guy lol!! Of course I had other non-specific back pain mostly related to soft tissue; tendons and muscles connecting to the si. X-rays would later show some normal spine and disc degeneration but nothing that really caused me any pain. I could certainly do the finger test and pinpoint the si as the source of pain! My si pain was mostly activity related in that the pain was noticeably mostly during activity but not so much while resting or on low activity days except if I had hitted hard the previous day. I also got great relief from NSAIDs which suggests inflammation as a major pain contributor.
  • MangophilMMangophil Posts: 13
    edited 11/12/2012 - 5:27 PM
    I sought medical help circa 2008. At first I went to a pain specialist who actually diagnosed my condition correctly and gave me an si injection. It didn't help so I discarded that dr/ quack!! Next I went to a chiro who I saw for about a year . He diagnosed my pain as a soft tissue problem and gave me active release which nearly brought me to tears! I was amazed how deep and hard he could work those areas. He also had me lay on my back with a broom stick under my right side! This actually proved to be a big breakthrough! One night after about 6 months of laying on the broom, the si released. The pain didn't go away but it did lessen and some range of motion returned. I went from being doubled over to being able to walk upright and even lightly jog for 10 minutes (Chinese delivery guy again, ha). I eventually stagnated and went to an accupuncture- worthless! After about a year without medical help in 2010 I went to a back surgeon. He had great bedside manners but I would later find out his knowledge base was limited. After X-rays and the like this dr did correctly Id my problem as sijd based on xrays showing arthritis in the right si. So we did a series of si injections which didn't help. So now I went full circle back to the same treatment from the quack! But the quack only charged me $500 for injection where the surgeon made it a major out patient operative procedure ubder floral (more X-rays-am I glowing?) and charged $4000- thankfully I have good insurance coverage!! My back surgeon mentioned si joint fusion but since it was major back surgery (it was now mid 2011) we both didn't want to go that route. We talked about a rhizotomy but a lot of sticky insurance issues and he felt it was too temporary-nerves would regenerate within a year and then harder to get results on repeat procedures due to evolving nerve paths- those pesky nerves!! We talked about alternate treatments but none of those sounded promising or were his expertise. So in mid 2011 I had resolved to just accept Sijd as my fate!! Of course in 2012, I would stumble upon ifuse and si-bone while surfing the Internet!!
  • Slow down!!! Your just/only 5 weeks post-op. I know you don't wanna hear it but your gonna re-injure yourself and regret it. You said "This weekend I cut the grass- push mower, worked out at the gym- limited routine and did the elliptical bike!! And no setbacks!! Unfortunately, the sijd has only improved marginally- I still notice joint pain." There are setbacks and that's why you still notice joint pain. Stop irritating the joint!!! Is there anyone there who can look at your butt/hip? Who can look and feel if the inflammation is all gone. I started physical therapy at 3 weeks post-op not only to help with the healing process but to make sure I was doing the correct exercises for my aches and muscle pains. Things like walking, twisting and single leg raises irritated the si-joint before the procedure so doing them shortly after the procedure isn't a good idea. Give your body some time to heal before you go riding that bike at the gym, walking longer then 20 minutes/more then a mile. Slow down a little bit, please. Diane P.S. Will PM you later.
    I had the SI-BONE ifuse implant procedure on August 6th 2012.
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