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Long-term results from Lumbar Spinal Fusion

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Unread 09-30-2006, 09:44 AM   #1
maw1953
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Default Long-term results from Lumbar Spinal Fusion

I am scheduled for a 2 level (L4-S1) anterior/posterior fusion with instrumentation on Nov 1st, 2006. I was curious as to those who had spinal fusion surgery what your long term results have been. After 1-3 years how many had additional surgery due to stress on the next level? What kinds of problems arise and what kind of medical results were given in your cases? Thank you in advance.
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Unread 09-30-2006, 10:30 AM   #2
Hoosier Mama?
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I had my first lumbar fusion at age 10 ('68), then another at higher levels two years later with instrumentation (this additional surgery was anticipated, as I have scoliosis...it wasn't so much because of any additional stress on the vertebrae above the fusion). This served me well for 20 years, and probably would've went longer if a group of surgeons hadn't seen all the hardware and dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes.

In the interim, I was quite active...running three miles a day and working in a furniture factory. Ahhhh....but I was young then.
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Unread 10-02-2006, 05:29 AM   #3
marmar
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Default Herniated L4/L5 - 5 surgeries later

Hi there. I just wanted to say that most, if not all, responses here will be negative since we are all here for support because we are still in pain.

I had 5 surgeries to date. The 3rd one did work, a fusion of L4/L5. All was fine for a couple of years and then L3/L4 went and I had stenosis at that level. I heard later on that stabilizing one level may cause extra stress on the level above. I had surgery for the stenosis, but it did not work.

Have you explored the artificial disk at all? I have heard better results with that.

Not to scare you, but have you considered the fact that there are an extreme amount of cases of hospital staph infection? I am one of those cases, unfortunately. I contracted MRSA during my last surgery and had to have another surgery to fix the problem. AND, the doctor nicked the dura which caused a spinal fluid leak which was another fix during that second surgery.

I know that a majority of surgeries come out fine, and I pray that yours is one of those. If the surgery is medically necessary to fix a neurological condition and there are no other options, then you have to hope for the best. Chances are - if you are having the surgery to get rid of pain only, you will be disappointed. Ask your surgeon what percentage of pain relief you can expect.

Wishing you all the best. Maryanne
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Unread 10-02-2006, 08:06 AM   #4
simby
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hi maw,
i can't give you long term results as i am only 15 months post-op for a l4/5 fusion. I am just now beginning to be able to function at about 80%. Its a long, slow process.
It is true about the levels above and below taking over for the fused part. I have learned to do things without engaging my back, but its tough.
i squat rather then bend. Or kneel. And,if i do bend, i bend from the hips. I don't know if this will save the rest of the back from damage. But i try.

good luck.
sims
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Unread 10-03-2006, 02:38 AM   #5
Fancylady_2006
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Hi maw, Three weeks ago i had surgery on L2/L3 and also on L5/S1. I have had these same surgeries before once before. I had donated my own bone and it just crumbled so they used donor bone this time. So far I have had 6 back surgeries. Most have not been sucessful. In time they break down and the pain sets in. Then I get severe stenosis ans Spondilolisthesis, and I need decompression. I am a mess on the inside, but thats no sign you will be. Our bodies are all different and respond in different ways.

Try not to get to discouraged, if you need the surgery I would go ahead and do it. The pain will drive you to it anyway.
Best Wishes,
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Unread 10-03-2006, 12:41 PM   #6
Hoosier Mama?
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Quote:
Fancylady_2006 wrote: I had donated my own bone and it just crumbled so they used donor bone this time.
They used something called artificial bone with my last fusion. Apparently, it hardens denser than human bone...although there is some risk with rejection, since it's a foreign substance, but I haven't had any problems so far...knock on wood!
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Unread 10-08-2006, 08:19 PM   #7
Fancylady_2006
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Yes, my doc used artificial too in one or more area's too. I have had just about everything else done and it failed. He told me it could take up to a year to heal also. It feels different and by that I think it is solid. It actully hurts more at the time being. If it heals good, I won't complain.

I have had my own pelvis bone fused in and you would think it would take care of things, not so. Five Dr's planned this surgery. I keep thinking never another one. They all are very painful. I also just fill with scar tissue
or spinal stenosis.
Blessings,
BC
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Unread 10-08-2006, 08:35 PM   #8
GJZH
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I had my first lumbar surgery in January of 2005. It was a lumbar laminectomy L3 to S2 to help with spinal stenosis. It did not help and as soon as I came off the pain medications all of the pain came back to my legs and feet.

I have seen many, many surgeons about the problems with my spine. I have extensive spinal problems. I think when you ask us for outcomes it is difficult to compare us to you. You have to keep in mind that each of us is different and each has a different set of problems and pain. I decided after much searching and listening to go with a surgeon in NYC and had L 1 to S1 fused in April of 2006. At my last visit in August I was told I had not yet started to fuse. I am still in considerable pain. I still have much of my presurgical pain. My legs and feet still hurt. My hips hurt and my lower back hurts. I cannot walk very far without being in considerable pain.

This is all very different from the cervica fusion I had done in August of 2005. I fused at about two and half months from that surgery. The pain was gone almost immediately, but here again I have started to have problems again with the cervical spine. I have extensive problems with arthritis though throughout my body in many joints...so to compare yourself to me or think you are going to experience the same thing is silly....You may have surgery and have a positive experience and never have to visit these boards ever again....We hope you will be one of the lucky ones...I was told from the very beginning though that they could never make me pain free so I was aware of that going in...I just thought it would be a little better than it is....Good luck!
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4/06 - Lumbar Fusion - L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, S1
Anterior with cages and Posterior with rods and screws.

8/17/05 - Cervical Fusion - C4-5, 5-6, 6-7 - Anterior and Posterior Fusion with plate in front and rods and screws in the rear - Corpectomy at C-4 and C-5 and microdisectomy at C6-7.

1/4/05 - Lumbar Laminectomy -L3, L4, L5, S1, S2 Obliteration of Tarlov Cyst at S2. Failed surgery!

Last edited by GJZH; 01-16-2007 at 11:43 AM.
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Unread 01-14-2007, 04:03 PM   #9
MrsG1030
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Hi. I just joined this site, and I read your post. Your surgery on 4/06 sounds exactly like my husbands. He is going in on Jan. 29, 2007 for a second one. How are you doing now? Do you feel the last surgery was a success? As for the staph infection, I, too, fell victim during one of my own surgeries (8 on my shoulder last being a fusion). We spoke at great length about this problem with the neurosurgeon, and he feels that a prophyllactic dose of Vancomycin will hopefully prevent any infections. We are getting more nervous by the minute...to be expected, right?
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Unread 01-16-2007, 04:27 PM   #10
Lisa Bertsch
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I hope your surgery has gone well. I had a fusion in 2004 (L2 to T12) as a result of a burst fracture at L1 and have been trying for years to get a sense of what I would experience in the future. What I have found is that there is such a wide range due to many factors. It seems that there is always a chance that there will be degradation above and below the fusion (I've never been able to find stats on that.) I was 24 when I got the fusion and have done extremely well, that is not to say that it hasn't changed my life, but I have had no problems with the fusion healing etc.... I had extremely good doctors, with the newest proceedures. There are support systems out there if you need them, so don't be afraid to ask around and ask a lot of questions, the better you understand your body the better you can care for yourself. If you have a doctor you don't like, find one that you do. Take care of yourself in every way you can, the healthier you are in general the better. Best of Luck!
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