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4 Level ALIF Surgery scheduled.........need advice

JoAnnR901JJoAnnR901 Posts: 8
edited 03/08/2016 - 7:59 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
After having an L4/L5 fusion in 2013 and a 3 level ACDF in 2014, I am now facing a 4 level ALIF, next month. Needless to say I am not looking forward to this. L2 and L3 now need to be fused and 4/5 never fused, have a screw loose ( no jokes, please) and needs a revision, and now have a fracture in S1.  I have been in horrible pain since August and am in considerable pain despite the pain meds, big time, that I am currently taking. The surgeon explained this will be a 2 day procedure where the majority of the work will be done on Day one, then on day three they will take me in for the remainder which is done posterior.  I have concerns about the size of the incision on the front, and how I will manage post op with incisions front and back. 

Anyone who has been there, or close, I would appreciate your feedback. This forum was amazing help during the first two procedures so I can't imagine anything different, now.  Surgical buddies was the best, too.

Thanks,

JoAnn


2013    PLIF  L4/L5
2014   3 Level ACDF

"Life is Short, Play with your dog...." WOOF"
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1

Comments

  • JoAnn, 
    Sorry to hear your in so much pain. That is a lot of work your needing and I can relate to some extent. I have been fused from L2-S1 but it's been over several years and 6 major surgeries. Mine has all been thru the back so I know nothing about work done from the front. I know we all have wanted to push off surgery but sometimes your quality of life and or pain level will make that decision for you. Good luck on your decision and know there are others on here fighting the same battles.
    TLIF L4-S1 2007                                         TLIF L3-L4 2008                                          TLIF L2-L3 2016
  • AnnaDAAnnaD TennesseePosts: 3
    JoAnn
    My heart goes out to you.  Living with severe pain each day and wondering what to do about it is agonizing.
    Anyone who has never experienced chronic severe pain can never understand how hard it is both physically and mentally.

    So many questions go through our head:  Will surgery make it better?  Will it make it worse?  Will it stay the same?  Will something else go wrong.? Can they just implant something in my spine to just block the pain????   How bad will the pain be?  How much will it cost?    Doing both an anterior and posterior approach is also scary since you will have staples or stitches on both sides.  It takes so much courage to choose "life" instead of just surviving day to day.  You have my admiration.

     I'm two weeks post-up today.  I was scared.  Those were my thoughts. It took me about a year tto choose "life". and take the chance one more time, (63 yrs old, PLIF L3-S1 with reworking previous fusion.)  I was just living day after day struggling to dress, cook, drive or get to grocery store.   Paiin is a great motivator..  I made myself lose about 50 pounds over the last year.so I'd have a better chance at walking and moving if I chose surgery.  It has halped a lot.  .

    These surgeries are not easy and any intelligent person  knows the risks.  My first fusion (PLIF L4-L5),  never really helped and  had a loose screw. I don't think the surgeon (orthopedic) did a good job on me even though he does 2 to 3 fusions a day (assembly line surgery??).  That was 2013.    My current neurosurgeon was encouraging but made no promises..  Surgery took about 7 hours and my surgeon said the lower spine was a mess from deterioration and arthritis.
    He  cleaned it out, got rid of the bony spurs and blockages irritating the nerves all the way from S1 to L2. and rebuilt the spine with screws and bolts..  

    For two weeks post-op today, I feel really good.  I am walking every day (up to 20 minutes).   I've reduced the pain meds and started stretching them  out..  There is still some pain from the surgery but it's nothing compared to what I lived with everyday before the surgery.   The thing is that we never know how things will progress in the future.   It's a leap of faith and of hope.  
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  • Thank You for your message. I'm very happy that you are making great progress. It does seem like surgery is a hit or miss procedure. You can have a successful surgery or a Mess. It is going to definitely be a Leap of Faith for my first fusion of L4 L5. Thank You
  • Thank  you for your messages. I met  with the surgeon yesterday to discuss some of my concerns and we agreed to scale down the procedure to eliminate the "360" portion. In other words, he will do all the work from the front in one day. I hope this is a good decision. He claims I should have relief and do well, and if not we can always do the posterior portion at a later date. I feel much better about this as I am not ready to spend yet another summer watching from the sidelines as everyone else travels, and enjoys the bike rides, kayak trips, etc.   Keep in touch all.




    2013    PLIF  L4/L5
    2014   3 Level ACDF

    "Life is Short, Play with your dog...." WOOF"
  • Hi Joann,
    I had a revision to a (massive) 2010 T3 -Sacrum fusion that failed after 3+ years. Revision was PLIF/ALIF. Now that has also failed. Having another revision with new surgeon on Friday, so you and I  are "surgery buddies" for March. Anyway, I recommend that you keep your bowels regular because after an ALIF that could be a problem. I have been taking MOVANTIC which has regulated me well. 
    Best of luck to you - I'll watch to see your posts. Keep me in mind for March 18.

    Sincerely,
    Laurita in pain
    Laurita
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  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971

    JoAnn...

    I think you are playing with fire to not have the posterior hardware installed with a 4 level fusion.  That's a big fusion and you are going to need all the stability you can get during the recovery and fusion growth process... and without the posterier hardware I'm not sure where that stability is going to come in.  I'm not a doctor so this is just my personal opinion.         

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Thank you Harry for your thoughts. I am really torn about this. The surgeon said he will modify the procedure and only do 3 levels which he can address from the front only, but I am not sure that is the answer either. I don't want to eliminate work that should be done and regret it later..............confused.


    2013    PLIF  L4/L5
    2014   3 Level ACDF

    "Life is Short, Play with your dog...." WOOF"
  • Hey Laurita ! Thanks for your kind words and I will definitely keep you in mind on your "special" day. Mine has been moved again, to April 4, with no April 6 as he has agreed to do anterior only. Still not sure what to do............


    2013    PLIF  L4/L5
    2014   3 Level ACDF

    "Life is Short, Play with your dog...." WOOF"
  • Anna D. thank you for your thoughts and I hope you continue to do well.  I am in much the same place you are. After doing my homework, getting as many opinions as I can, and giving serious thought to the recovery time and risk of still having pain after, I, too, am choosing "life". The pain is limiting what I can do in so many ways and I do not want to give in and become what I am now. I need to get back to what I was, the life I had, before the accident that changed my life forever.

    I am only 56, was a marathoner, triathlete, water enthusiast  that was hit by a drunk driver in 2012. Although I had a pre-existing condition prior, it was in remission allowing me to travel the country to destination races. Once I was hit, I was left with fractures in my spine resulting in a spinal fusion in 2013 (which never healed), a spinal infection post op; a 3 level cervical fusion in 2014, total knee in 2015, revision of cervical fusion in 2015, and now headed back for additional, more complicated back surgery, next month.  Understandably, I am done !  Don't want to go through this again. But if I can regain some form of my former self, I must do it. 

    That is my story.  Keep me in your prayers, and I will do the same. April Surgical Buddies, here I come. 




    2013    PLIF  L4/L5
    2014   3 Level ACDF

    "Life is Short, Play with your dog...." WOOF"
  • FareedFFareed Abilene , Texas Posts: 61

    Laurita said:

    Hi Joann,
    I had a revision to a (massive) 2010 T3 -Sacrum fusion that failed after 3+ years. Revision was PLIF/ALIF. Now that has also failed. Having another revision with new surgeon on Friday, so you and I  are "surgery buddies" for March. Anyway, I recommend that you keep your bowels regular because after an ALIF that could be a problem. I have been taking MOVANTIC which has regulated me well. 
    Best of luck to you - I'll watch to see your posts. Keep me in mind for March 18.

    Sincerely,
    Laurita in pain

    how do you feel now?
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