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Old 07-09-11, 12:16 PM   #1
Metric Man
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Back Fusion

After a search, which apparently I'm not very good at, I couldn't find what I was looking for, but I know I've seen on this forum before...back fusion. It seems I'm a candidate for L5-4 fusion an possibly all the way to L2-5. With no disc (bone on bone) 4-5 and L5 mis-aligned that one is a given. Badly bulging between L3-4 and touching on one side and L2-3 basically touching as well. Numbness in my right leg has been there for about 6 months, some days worse than others and constant discomfort in the lower back (except when riding I might add ) for a couple of years, I went to have it checked out. After the xrays I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon and I see the ortho on Monday and we'll see where I end up, but the real question was the outcome. Who has had this done and what are your results? How long off the bike as well as work? I drive a truck so I expect to be off a little longer than some. Any input appreciated.
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Old 07-09-11, 12:36 PM   #2
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I had back surgery in Oct 10. Spondeliothesis was diagnosis. L5 to S1. Needed L4 L5 fused and 2 rods and 4 screws to hold it all together. I had numbness in rt leg, and severe sciatic pain in left leg. I went to 5 orthopedic surgeons before I found the right one. Young guy (38) that specialized in micro back surgery (endoscopic). I ended up getting a Anterior/Postier 360 type surgery. Basically had a small 1" incision in my lower stomach and 2 small 1" incisions vertically along my lower spine. Out of hospital in 3 days. Walking a mile at day 7. Doing 30 miles on my bike by day 21. Released back to work in 30 days with a minimal lifting restriction. No pain whatsoever after the surgery.
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Old 07-09-11, 12:41 PM   #3
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I had back surgery in Oct 10. Spondeliothesis was diagnosis. L5 to S1. Needed L4 L5 fused and 2 rods and 4 screws to hold it all together. I had numbness in rt leg, and severe sciatic pain in left leg. I went to 5 orthopedic surgeons before I found the right one. Young guy (38) that specialized in micro back surgery (endoscopic). I ended up getting a Anterior/Postier 360 type surgery. Basically had a small 1" incision in my lower stomach and 2 small 1" incisions vertically along my lower spine. Out of hospital in 3 days. Walking a mile at day 7. Doing 30 miles on my bike by day 21. Released back to work in 30 days with a minimal lifting restriction. No pain whatsoever after the surgery.
Good to hear. Do you notice any limited mobility? Can't touch your toes etc.?
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Old 07-09-11, 01:10 PM   #4
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My preference is a neurosurgeon over an orthopedic surgeon. My wife, RN, insists, also.

L4-L5 fusion for spondylolythesis(sp?), spondylosis (sp?) and bulging disc October this last year using minimally invasive surgery. The neuro had the training, credentials, and, more importantly, the outcomes and recommendations from OR nurses (they are the ones who really know what goes on) that were important to me. I saw three neuros before deciding. Most "referrals" don't mean much - they may be neighbors or their kids play on the same soccer team or whatever. Generally, the referring physician hasn't a real clue about the surgeon's outcomes - a critical criterion, IMHO.

http://www.spineclinic.com/prusmack.html

some more good info here.

http://www.spineclinic.com/patient_edu.html

Back at swimming in 14 days. On the mtn bike in 18 days (more vertical than the roadie). Fully recovered, no apparent loss in flexibility - actually, since I am doing more stretching, the flexibility has increased.

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Old 07-09-11, 01:16 PM   #5
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After a search, which apparently I'm not very good at, I couldn't find what I was looking for, but I know I've seen on this forum before...back fusion. It seems I'm a candidate for L5-4 fusion an possibly all the way to L2-5. With no disc (bone on bone) 4-5 and L5 mis-aligned that one is a given. Badly bulging between L3-4 and touching on one side and L2-3 basically touching as well. Numbness in my right leg has been there for about 6 months, some days worse than others and constant discomfort in the lower back (except when riding I might add ) for a couple of years, I went to have it checked out. After the xrays I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon and I see the ortho on Monday and we'll see where I end up, but the real question was the outcome. Who has had this done and what are your results? How long off the bike as well as work? I drive a truck so I expect to be off a little longer than some. Any input appreciated.

Give me a call and I will give you Sherpa'a phone number. Remember he is the actor that rides with us? Anyway he had that option and knows some rather good doctors.
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Old 07-09-11, 01:22 PM   #6
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Thanks DnvrFox and I will Bob.
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Old 07-09-11, 01:45 PM   #7
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There are a number of web sites where patients rate their MD's - worth a checkout at the minimum

www.ratemds.com

www.vitals.com

www.healthgrades.com

and more if you check around
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Old 07-09-11, 02:05 PM   #8
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Good to hear. Do you notice any limited mobility? Can't touch your toes etc.?
No Limitations. Good as new

Also I had a team of 4 doctors in Surgery. Orthopedic for the bone work, Neurosurgeon for delicate areas around the nerves, General surgeon to open the stomach and push the muscles out of the way, and an Anesthesiologist. This was all part of the setup that came from the Orthopedic surgeon. Cost was around 175k, but only cost me 100 dollar copay.

You dr will most probably suggest Months of Physical Therapy before he suggests surgery. Sometimes this helps enough to not need surgery. I also was sent to a Pain Mgmt Dr that gave me several epidural shots over a 4 month period which helped with the pain while I waited in line for the surgery date.

Like you I sit on my butt all day driving an airplane. Really not much different than driving a truck. I have had zero problems since the surgery.

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Old 07-09-11, 05:45 PM   #9
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No Limitations. Good as new

Like you I sit on my butt all day driving an airplane. Really not much different than driving a truck. I have had zero problems since the surgery.
I actually drive a ready mix concrete truck, sprung pretty tight and a good deal of time spent bouncing off road. Not a typical truck.

Thanks for the reply. It's helping me relax a little.
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Old 07-09-11, 05:47 PM   #10
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There are a number of web sites where patients rate their MD's - worth a checkout at the minimum

www.ratemds.com

www.vitals.com

www.healthgrades.com

and more if you check around
Fortunately my son in-law is an anesthesiologist in the area and is helping me in the selection process. Thanks.
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Old 07-11-11, 02:05 PM   #11
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Had a a double level PLIF in Jan 2004. After 2 laminectomies failed in short order, it was my last option. I compressed the spinal column in 1989 at work, falling 10'. Rt leg was paralyzed and left went numb in 2002. I have full use of the rt. leg back, no numbness at all and pretty good range of motion. Well worth the effort and doing the P.T. for the quick recovery. I second having the neurosurgeon do the work, too.

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Old 07-11-11, 02:12 PM   #12
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There are a number of web sites where patients rate their MD's - worth a checkout at the minimum

www.ratemds.com

www.vitals.com

www.healthgrades.com

and more if you check around
That can be very misleading. Man times patients will negatively report on a doctor that didn't "tell them what they wanted to hear" or "the Doctor had good coffee in the waiting room, so he must be good"
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Old 07-11-11, 03:01 PM   #13
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That can be very misleading. Man times patients will negatively report on a doctor that didn't "tell them what they wanted to hear" or "the Doctor had good coffee in the waiting room, so he must be good"
Yes, and I (and most folks herein) am/are capableof sorting through the chaff and information and can come to a reasonable conclusion. BTW, I have read a lot of them - have you? Most are very reasonably stated and based on good input and info.

Please give me the credit of 71+ years of experience dealing with and figuring out people.
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Old 07-11-11, 05:03 PM   #14
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Saw the ortho today. Basically what I thought, live with it and make adjustments or fix it. He's talking about fusing L4-5 and that's it. The other stuff isn't bad enough to warrant any further action at this point...but it's only a matter of time given my age and the number of years I have ahead of me (barring getting hit by a truck on my bike) and it will need some work as well.

You can see 4-5 are way out of whack and 2-3 will be my next problem, unless the bulging disc at 3-4 decides to pop first.

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Old 07-11-11, 07:39 PM   #15
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It doesn't look like you have much room between you L4 and L5. I bet you are in a lot of pain. Plus it is running down your leg, radicular pain. Plus it looks like your L4 is pushed forward. I think it looks like a spondy. I had a 3 degree spondy S1/L5 My spinal fusion worked for me. I had it done 13 years ago at the Cleveland Clinic. I have had no problems so far. Good luck. There are new ways of putting a disc in. I am not sure how good there are.

good luck.

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Old 11-06-11, 12:07 AM   #16
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UPDATE: I thought I would give this a final chapter for future searches.
Spondylolisthesis. I picked a surgeon that had excellent training and experience as well as doing nothing but spinal surgery. He also rides so he understands my fitness level and motivation to get back into the routine. I checked into the hospital Wednesday for 12pm surgery, went into surgery at 12:30 and was out by 4:15pm. Four screws and two rods (all titanium ) along with a cage and my own bone. L4-5 separated and L5 realigned and the cage with bone material added to create the separation and fusion. The doctor was extremely pleased with the results and so far I am too. When I went in I was experiencing numbness in the right leg and the sciatic nerve was being pinched across the back and all the way down the left leg. The first thing I noticed when I woke in recovery is that was gone. The pain in the back is now all from the surgery and is getting better every day. I was up and walking at 10am Thursday and checked out of the hospital by 11am Friday. Walked a half mile Saturday and will do at least a mile in the morning (Sunday). This afternoon I eased onto my stationary exercise bike and pedaled for 10 minutes. The physical therapist was shocked at the strength in my legs and between that and the core strength you get cycling it is really helping the recovery process along. I'll be on pain meds for another week at least, but I'm hoping to get clear of that as soon as possible. I wish I had done this years ago.
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Old 11-06-11, 10:24 AM   #17
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Don't overdo, but keep it up. I had a ruptured disc in 2000 and had to get a Lumbar Lamenectomy. Yes, when I was coming out of anesthesia after the surgery, it was like day and night compared to the torture I'd been experiencing for 6 months.

I hope your recovery is quick and you do well. But, do not overdo.
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Old 11-06-11, 11:10 AM   #18
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Don't overdo, but keep it up. I had a ruptured disc in 2000 and had to get a Lumbar Lamenectomy. Yes, when I was coming out of anesthesia after the surgery, it was like day and night compared to the torture I'd been experiencing for 6 months.

I hope your recovery is quick and you do well. But, do not overdo.
Thanks, 1/2 mile of walking yesterday and almost a mile today. I may do a little spinning today as well.
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Old 11-06-11, 07:25 PM   #19
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Sounds just like my 2 level PLIF. Same Ti hardware X2. Hope yours helps as much as mine has. Are you having to wear the brace? I had mine for 6 weeks but it was mainly a precaution. I took it off every time I could at home.

Bill
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Old 11-06-11, 07:33 PM   #20
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Time for a Bacchetta. 15% off for the month of November.
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Old 11-06-11, 07:39 PM   #21
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I have a spinal corset Bill, and I use it a little. I don't like it and it doesn't seem to make much difference so I don't know how long I will use it. The doctor said use it if it helps, or not.
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Old 11-06-11, 07:41 PM   #22
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Yep, that is what I had. Pretty much a bother to me if you use common sense in what you do. I was walking as you were next day. Complications elsewhere set me back a week but I returned to the job site in 3 weeks. Best of luck!

Bill
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