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Preparing for a second opinion five months post fusion

duckgirldduckgirl Posts: 258
edited 04/12/2016 - 2:21 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Good evening,

I had PLIF of L5-S1 exactly five months ago.  My recovery has been tougher than I imagined.  My surgeon keeps saying "images are fine, you shouldn't be in this kind of pain".  I want to get a second opinion for my own piece of mind as I am so worried that my surgeon missed something.  Also, some of my radiology reports had some concerning language that my surgeon didn't do a good job of reviewing with me.  My questions are:

1. Any suggestions in choosing a dr for a second opinion that wouldn't hesitate to critically analyze the work of a very well recognized surgeon?
2. My surgeon was orthopedic. I heard neurosurgeon v. Orthopedic doesn't make much difference.  Is there a reason to choose one over the other for a second opinion?
3. I am working on gathering my pre and post op X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, with the accompanying radiology reports.  Is there anything else I should get?  I don't want to tell my current surgeon I am going elsewhere for a variety of reasons (we have friends in common being one).  Of course, if it turns out my surgeon did miss something - he will find out I got a second opinion.  If I can avoid it initially and not order items from his office, I'd rather.
4. Is anyone willing to share their post-op second opinion story?  I hope I am wrong, but I feel something really isn't right, and my surgeon has the attitude that everything is fine.  I don't know why he would not reveal a potential issue, but based on my CT, I think I may not have gotten the whole story.

Any other thoughts on a second opinion post-op?  Thanks for reading.  



  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    It is not unusual for surgeon to refer post op patients, with continued pain..refer them to pain management doctor.
    PM can help take edge off of your pain and continue to monitor your recovery.

    He would be able to do additional testing to see what might be causing your pain issues.
    PM also continues to monitor the spine and would know if..when..to refer you back to surgeon.
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Thanks Savage!  I did see a pain management dr a few times.  He was not very helpful.  He didn't have any ideas (or seem to care) about the source of pain, he just medicated me.  I got a bad vibe from that clinic in particular. I know some people have great experiences with their PM doctors.  This particular one was not for me.  For my piece of mind, I really want another surgeon to take a look at my images.  Thanks for your suggestion - I appreciate it!
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  • Hey Duckgirl!
    One question you had was the difference between an ortho and a neuro--ortho=bone, and neuro=nerves. 
    If your MRIs, CTs, Xrays, etc are continuing to show no issues despite your continued pain, perhaps your pain could be more nerve-related.  A second, third, fourth opinion couldn't hurt--when the fourth doctor I consulted with told me the same thing the previous three had (surgery), that's when I made the decision to go ahead and "git 'er done". 
    I can relate to your PM experience, only I was a bit sillier than you and stuck it out despite the same "bad vibe" feelings that you got from your PM clinic.  I will be looking for a new PM clinic once I am released from my surgeon's care. 
    Has anyone mentioned doing any type of nerve conduction studies?
    I wish you the best...I know it's been a tough row to hoe for you...
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • Thanks Kimmy!  Based on my research (I know I shouldn't self diagnose) I think my CT shows a potential issue.  I am leaning toward a neurosurgeon b/c I agree, I think it is nerve related.  No, I haven't had anyone mention nerve studies.  I think my surgeon is sick of hearing from me!  Thanks again for your thoughts - I hope you are doing OK.
  • Yup--hanging in there!  Thank you for asking!!
    I have a small disc herniation in my cervical spine that by all intents and purposes, should really not be causing me that much pain if one were to rely solely on an MRI report.  However, after having an EMG, it became clear that the nerves were much more damaged from it than any traditional imaging might show. 
    Self-diagnosing is in no way as powerful as self-advocacy, even though the latter might get you labeled as a bit of a pain in the butt.  You know your body, and you know when something doesn't feel right regardless of what an imaging study says.  If I hadn't been a squeaky wheel, I doubt I ever would've been given the nerve testing which validated what I'd been saying all along! 
    Stand firm and keep "squeaking" until you get some relief! 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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  • Hi Kimmy, how are you doing?  What is an EMG?  I'm so sorry you are having such a tough road.  Keep in touch and let me know how things go!  I saw my sports med DO last week.  He went over my CT with me, and referred a couple surgeons for second opinions.  I am so nervous and hope it doesn't take long to get in!  Take care, hope you're doing ok.
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