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Open spinal fusion with complications.

Agavegirl1

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Okay members and guests. I have been in extreme pain for years. It is completely interfering with my quality of life so I did tests, physical therapy and chiropractic care with no improvement in four years. So now I did more tests and I have: spinal stenosis in L4 and L5 causing sciatic nerve impingement. A lesion on my spinal cord in that same are and spondylosisthesis in one of the aforementioned vertebrae.My X-rays and MRI look awful, like someone who can’t walk and I barely can. I hate surgery but I hate being an invalid more, Anyone have spinal fusion with complications?


I have a highly rated surgeon at the University of Minnesota.
 

ErrosionOfAccord

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I was crippled when I blew a disk in C3-4. I have said here in the past that I would have ate a bullet if not for modern medicine. I understand the L’s have more complications than the C’s but my recommendation Is that you go for it. I’m back to a normal life more or less. Might try golfing again this summer. Shooting large caliber rifles like .308 gets painful quick though.
 

madhu

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surgery is only a temporary fix to a chronic aging degenerative process. It buys you time to do physical therapy. More and more I am believing in alternative modes of therapy such as yoga. Posture improvement?
Stem cell and PRP epidural injections? Do research and see if any of your local providers do? However if your mechanical stenosis is too advanced you will have no choice but to listen to your surgeon and take the risks of surgery.

Failed back surgery syndrome, failure to relieve your pain or numbness, partial relief of pain and residual numbness.
And new spine problems above the surgical site. Don't get discouraged. These surgeries are very routine and are highly monitored with MEP and SSEP monitoring that surgical related nerve damage is extremely rare.
 

Alton

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As of last Xray & MRI my disc @ L3 no longer exists and the remainder appears somewhat similar to a bit of molted skin. The disc above at L4, since it has taken up the slack of supporting me is bulging and above that at L5 the effects of wear and pressure are visually obvious. It has been suggested that I would be a good candidate for this: https://www.vertiflexspine.com/products/superion/

The vertiflex superion device is based on solid mechanics of how the body moves. If you watched the video you see where the device is placed in between your vertabrae. At my doctor's office he has a couple of plastic models of the human spine lumbar region which are in amazing detail quite anatomically correct, flexible and are fitted with the spinal nerve bundle and nerve sections protruding from between the vertebrae. Sorry, I do not know all the medical technical names of the parts and pieces so I'm trying to make this as clear as I can as I understand it so far. Anyway, what this marvelous model does NOT show is the connective tissues and membrane around the spine. This tissue is visually "hinted at" in the video and I am not totally clear on it's role AND ability in helping to keep the superion device in place.

As far as concerns about the vertiflex device there are more than I would like. Why are the 4 "arms" anodized? That is a process typically applied to aluminum. Because the "arms" are mechanically extended that means that there is a mechanical, presumably machined joint. How will body fluids affect this mechanical joint? Will there be corrosion? What metal will seep back int my system? The "arms" appear to be extended by a threaded rod, What is the material used here? Is there any danger of the "arms" NOT being fully extended? The body of the vertiflex device is placed on the largest and strongest "wing" of the vertebrae and the wing of the vertebrae above it rests on top of the vertiflex devise and it supports the upper vertebrae. Will the pressure and movement abrade the larger vertebrae wings? I've asked my doctor some of these questions and others not listed here and I have received NO clear answers. I was given the business card of the regional sales rep for vertiflex and was told to contact him for the answers to my detailed questions. NOT the response I expected or wanted from my doctor. Then again, I doubt he expected such a barrage of really detailed questions. He is very intelligent, direct and honest. He's also Russian. No. No collusion with Trump.:2 thumbs up:

Generally speaking the spinal canal is formed by the stacked vertebrae and each disc is a sort of seal between each of the vertebrae. So, for me, I've got a blown seal and the seals above are rapidly decaying and as a bonus I'm out of warranty. To keep going I need to be repaired. Like y'all I have been offered fusion surgery. My insurance is Blue Cross. They will pay for fusion surgery. They will NOT pay for the surgery required or the device to implant offered by the vertiflex outfit. Why? It's too new. I have already been through all the preliminary testing for either procedure. Reality is I will NEVER be returned to full mobility/flexibility. All of this is to merely relieve the pain and restore some mobility/flexibility resulting in improved quality of life.

This is also the goal of fusion surgery of which I only have anecdotal knowledge. I know of at least 7 people who have had the fusion surgery. To a person it has heavily limited their flexibility and all save one have had to go under the knife again for "tune ups and adjustments". I am not clear on the specifics of these "tune ups and adjustments". It is, however, a merry-go-round kind of thing where once you get the fusion surgery you will most likely have to have a similar procedure in the future. The vertiflex procedure has not been around long enough to know of it's durability.

So, for those of us with lumbar region issues these are the common remedies neither of which seem any too appealing to me. Like you I am at a point where something MUST be done. The pain pill thing just ain't working. For me I just don't think the limited mobility imposed by the fusion surgery is going to work. I think I've got maybe another 20 good years left in me and I really don't want to spend them being limited by a lack of flexibility if it can be avoided. Conversely I do not want to suffer further damage from an unknown consequence of a procedure that has no long track record like the vertiflex. In general, devices inserted into the body have a mixed track record. Watch tv sometime and you're bound to see ads from lawyers looking to dip into company bank accounts for this medical device or that due to injuries and complications arising from the use of such devices. A cash payout ain't gonna help me if I'm damaged further or dead. I figure as long as I'm here I'm better off living my life rather than vegetating.
 

gliddenralston

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I had L5/S1 fusion 18yrs ago, better but still... hurts/tight/stiff...can get extremely bad at times. I also had Cervical Laminectomy two yrs ago, C7/C6/C5, neck hurts n grinds with tension headaches and occasional severe migraines, pain in my shoulder, arm and hand numbness is gone traded it for headaches. Both surgeries I've had seem to cure the problems I had...both created new pain and problems...the first 6 months after surgery was brutal, the body doesn't like to get carved up, believe me!...theirs no miracles in the surgery room. Don't set your surgery expectations to high, do what you think you need to, and most important remember the doctors/hospitals will tell you whatever you want to hear as long as you have good insurance, their selling a service, and if things go bad they don't want to see you any more, that's been my experience. Good luck, do lots of DD
 
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TAEZZAR

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Agavegirl, Alton & gliddenralston, your surgeries & pending surgeries are much worse than what I had, but I am posting this as an FYI to all.
I had an L5-S1 microdiscectomy 22 years ago. I walked the same day as surgery. It was very successful.

These videos are interesting/educational.



 
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ErrosionOfAccord

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Another point should be made. I didn't fart around very long between the vertebrate settling in on my nerves and the surgery. The injury occurred at the end of August and was unbearable by the end of September. Messed around with scheduling and preop visits in October and the proceedure was in November. During that time nerves died going down to my left thumb. A year and a half later I still have numbness in my left thumb and some weakness. When a nerve is pinched it starts to die so I suggest resolution as quickly as possible. I can assure you that I will be more aggressive seeking answers if it ever happens again.
 

Goldhedge

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Taz those were very interesting videos... a guy could almost do that in his garage!!


I know a guy who is 70. He was very active in his 20's. Rock climbing he crashed into the rock face. Damaged his back, but being young he didn't do anything.

Long story short it complicated things down the road. Apparently, the body compensates for a deformity which puts pressure on the next vertebrae?

Today he's had several back surgeries. He has about 12" of rod holding his spine together.

He can still tie his shoes, but barely. He's still active. Walks daily and goes cross country skiing.

Take care of your back!!
 

Agavegirl1

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The potential for additional surgeries in my case is 20%. That is because the fusion creates additional strain on the vertebrae above and below the fusion. Proper PT and positioning can help prevent it. No guarantees. She was very honest about the odds.
 

3glocks1stack

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Have known some people with success from the laser spine institute also. Fusion would be last on my list personally.
 

Agavegirl1

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Because of the lesion that needs to be removed during the procedure, I am not a candidate for any of the minimally invasive procedures unfortunately. I was hopeful. My surgeon is an expert in both. She sat with me and my MRI and explained in detail why the open procedure was necessary and it made sense.
 

Unca Walt

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The potential for additional surgeries in my case is 20%. That is because the fusion creates additional strain on the vertebrae above and below the fusion. Proper PT and positioning can help prevent it. No guarantees. She was very honest about the odds.
Agavegirl --

There are many variants of procedures for your problems. It is very possible to have rods installed. Here is a typical example (it works very well, BTW):



Now, please understand like the guys here have pointed out: As you get older, what doesn't hurt doesn't work... ;-)

BUT! The quality of life as a result is almost always far better. I have bolts and screws and plates and mebbe a Schwinn sprocket somewhere in my 77-year old bod. Any part of me from head to foot sets off airport alarms.

And while I have given up trail riding and the like, I do get around pretty well. There is a mix of stuff that when combined together when applied works extremely well to ease this lower back pain

Diclofenac Sodium Topical Gel 1%
Ben-Gay Ointment
Aspercreme

Only one of the above requires a prescription.

Lastly, I have had the quality of my life raised greatly by a pungent weed. Apply those three things all together across the sore part of your back (be liberal with it), ease back into a big lounge chair, fire up a doobie and...

Well and happy, you will be ...a shit you will not give.
 

Unca Walt

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Thass my gurl!!

I ain't braggin', mostly because I always ducked too slowly, but I've been shot, stabbed, blown up, run over, poisoned and insulted. About half of that list has left metal in me. A body X-ray makes me look like a fargin Terminator.

I tellya this as my bona-fides. Now to pass on something for you to anticipate on the good side: The parts of me that hurt the LEAST are the parts WITH the metal. (*snork*) Ain't that the bomb?

The summary is that I believe you are going to get a much better life quality.

Go gettem.
 

TAEZZAR

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Because of the lesion that needs to be removed during the procedure, I am not a candidate for any of the minimally invasive procedures unfortunately. I was hopeful. My surgeon is an expert in both. She sat with me and my MRI and explained in detail why the open procedure was necessary and it made sense.
That is a great doctor that will sit with you & explain the good, the bad & the ugly !
I hope your surgery is a great success .:green tea:
 

TAEZZAR

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Agavegirl --

There are many variants of procedures for your problems. It is very possible to have rods installed. Here is a typical example (it works very well, BTW):



Now, please understand like the guys here have pointed out: As you get older, what doesn't hurt doesn't work... ;-)

BUT! The quality of life as a result is almost always far better. I have bolts and screws and plates and mebbe a Schwinn sprocket somewhere in my 77-year old bod. Any part of me from head to foot sets off airport alarms.

And while I have given up trail riding and the like, I do get around pretty well. There is a mix of stuff that when combined together when applied works extremely well to ease this lower back pain

Diclofenac Sodium Topical Gel 1%
Ben-Gay Ointment
Aspercreme

Only one of the above requires a prescription.

Lastly, I have had the quality of my life raised greatly by a pungent weed. Apply those three things all together across the sore part of your back (be liberal with it), ease back into a big lounge chair, fire up a doobie and...

Well and happy, you will be ...a shit you will not give.
Unca, wholly mackerel, is that your spine? I gave up trail riding with a whole lot less complications than what you described. I just couldn't kick start the damned thing ! :rotf:
 

GOLDBRIX

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The potential for additional surgeries in my case is 20%. That is because the fusion creates additional strain on the vertebrae above and below the fusion. Proper PT and positioning can help prevent it. No guarantees. She was very honest about the odds.
Agavegirl1, I know NOTHING about the surgery, BUT I do know DYODD and search / investigate the surgeons AND Anesthetist you are considering.
Most of the time the Anesthetist is the bill that blind sides the patient because they are dealing with the Surgeon and his charges. The surgeon or hospital call in the "Gas Man" without any patient input unless YOU grab the bull by the horns.

As for the Back Surgeon - There is a website where you can track how many jobs he has done.
Check out this Consumer Reports article for info:
https://www.consumerreports.org/doctors/doctors-and-hospitals-reviews-ratings/

Here is wishing you the Best "Sister of the Board". :2 thumbs up:
 

GOLDBRIX

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Wait til this generation finds themselves square in the middle of it. :dduck:
 

Agavegirl1

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Okay, final pre-surgery visit with surgeon. For safety and successful outcome, I had an MRI for my neck arthritis so positioning during my surgery will not cause damage to my cervical spine while I am under anesthesia. So here we go.

Dr. Jones (yes her real name) will use neural monitoring to make sure the positioning of my body in a face down position does not impact neural transmissions to other parts of my body. She will have staff reposition as necessary to prevent any spinal damage.

My surgery will be "Stealth" assisted. That means a CT scanner will be used during the surgery and a computer program to assist with placement of each screw, rod or cage. This reduces complication rates to under 1%. I think "stealth" is a software system attached to imaging equipment. Dr. Jones basically said she keeps and CT scanner going and watches everything she does on a screen. She also does brain surgery so there is that.

Infection rates. Nationwide are 5%. For my hospital they are less than 2% and for my surgeon less than 1%.

Doc and I are in agreement to proceed despite cervical spine diagnosis because that area of my spine is asymptomatic and waiting to recover from that surgery would prolong relief of my pain. I'll keep you posted but maybe I can walk better in a month or two.
 

GOLDBRIX

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#22
My prayers are with you Agave...
Your post reads like you have DYODD and checked all the issues you face.
Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude along the journey.
Take your favorite music with you to listen to going in and during recovery.
and of course...
Best Wishes,
Gb
 

Uglytruth

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You have done an impressive amount of research and homework. God bless!
 

ErrosionOfAccord

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Good luck. Hope it works at least as well as mine
 

Bottom Feeder

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My prayers for the best outcome are with you Agavegirl.
Hopes for you to make a quick recovery and find relief for your pain.

BF
 

TAEZZAR

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Agavegirl, you have done the most important part. You have educated yourself & you have a good attitude, therefore it will go well for you.
 

Agavegirl1

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All research and tests in...despite living in a sun deprived area, my vitamin D is good (I take supplements and kind of always have). Current tests are a go. :2 thumbs up: So surgery has been set for July 24th with my Pre-op evaluation and anesthesia meeting for July 14th.

I was really surprised my insurance gave the okay. They really don't know me from Adam. I joined their insurance by marrying their member back in 2015 and how are they supposed to know I was a spine surgery waiting to happen? Well, they did. Physical therapy bills, chiropractor bills, sports medicine guy bills...the should have figured I was trying a conservative approach to back issues.

So, here is my request on this issue and this issue only...

I wil likely be incommunicado for a while on some social media sites.


I would like to check in briefly to see how everything is going. Can I narrow down a thread or forum? I will be on drugs and only have a tablet.

Don't worry about finding "my" solution as I can figure it out.
 

GOLDBRIX

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#28
This is a thread you created. This would be as good a place as any to keep all of it. IMO
You are a long time member here and you know other threads get highjacked and NEVER get back O.T.

This is you. You provide us with your insights regularly across this board. All of this thread relates.
RUN WITH IT HERE.

Best Wishes
 

ErrosionOfAccord

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I posted here all doped up for five months. If anyone ever figured it out they never let on.
 
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#30
I was struck by a motor vehicle and ended up .25 inch shorter on one side. I was wary about the injections and the surgeries they always wanted to do on my back. I was thinking about the stem cell therapies they are offering now though. They were offering free dinner with a stem cell presentation. I should have went. Now I have to dig out the MRI CD.
 

the_shootist

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Okay members and guests. I have been in extreme pain for years. It is completely interfering with my quality of life so I did tests, physical therapy and chiropractic care with no improvement in four years. So now I did more tests and I have: spinal stenosis in L4 and L5 causing sciatic nerve impingement. A lesion on my spinal cord in that same are and spondylosisthesis in one of the aforementioned vertebrae.My X-rays and MRI look awful, like someone who can’t walk and I barely can. I hate surgery but I hate being an invalid more, Anyone have spinal fusion with complications?


I have a highly rated surgeon at the University of Minnesota.
Wishing you the best of luck and a full recovery if/when you choose the surgery. I'm preparing to have a knee replacement done this year and i have the same trepidation about surgery and the same type of crippling pain affecting my life so I can relate to you at some level.
 

engineear

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I posted here all doped up for five months
I thought you were STILL doped up!
All kidding aside, I pray your miracle happens. I pray/ask for guidance for all people in the operating room that day. I accept your healing will be more complete than you expect. HE will be there, always.
 

Agavegirl1

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Thanks for all the good wishes. My surgery date is July 24th. I check in at 6AM to the University Hospital. I will probably be posting "doped up" for a while after that since my limit for being on my feet is 30 minutes in 24 hours in tiny increments so I hope you will all help keep me amused, entertained and informed.
 

TAEZZAR

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So surgery has been set for July 24th with my Pre-op evaluation and anesthesia meeting for July 14th.
Wishing you the best of luck and a full recovery if/when you choose the surgery. I'm preparing to have a knee replacement done this year and i have the same trepidation about surgery and the same type of crippling pain affecting my life so I can relate to you at some level.
I wish you both a very successful surgery.
As a general statement, I believe the medical industry has made huge leaps of technology & success in all fields of surgery.
I had an L-5/S-1 surgery in 1992 that was 100% successful & my recent hip joint was 100% successful.
I am now scheduling another hip joint & knee joint, on the same leg, (just call me "Bionic TAEZZAR") with total confidence.
Here is a link to an actual knee surgery.
 

Uglytruth

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#35
It's like watching "This Old House" but it makes me queezy & hurts just watching! I made it 5 minutes in.........
 

Alton

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Thanks for all the good wishes. My surgery date is July 24th. I check in at 6AM to the University Hospital. I will probably be posting "doped up" for a while after that since my limit for being on my feet is 30 minutes in 24 hours in tiny increments so I hope you will all help keep me amused, entertained and informed.
It's ok. I post all doped up most the time and no one can tell I type much slower these days! One of the many benefits of being a legal addict!

I wish you a successful surgery! You're obviously tough enough since you hang out with this crowd. I look forward to hearing about your experiences and results. I'm sure it will go well for you.
 

lumpOgold

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My BIL had a laminectomy on T4 & 5 to relieve pressure on his spinal column. He was in so much pain he had to take months off work, after surgery his pain was reduced, but he could never go back to his regular job.

Good Luck and none of my implants set off the metal detectors. :2 thumbs up:
 

Goldhedge

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Can I narrow down a thread or forum?
This is your thread.

Wishing you the best of luck and a full recovery if/when you choose the surgery. I'm preparing to have a knee replacement done this year and i have the same trepidation about surgery and the same type of crippling pain affecting my life so I can relate to you at some level.
Make sure you take a magic marker and put "NOT THIS KNEE" on the good one...

I've heard true stories....
 

GOLDBRIX

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Way to go GH you are a ray of positivity :bang head: