View Full Version : Can surgeon tell if back is fused postop?

10-21-2013, 10:20 PM
So, I am looking forward to my 6 month visit and hoping that I will learn if my back is fused. Can the surgeon tell by looking at the X-ray if there are any vertebrae that are fused? Also, can they see pseudoarthrosis?

Susan, hoping for good news so at least only my front is falling apart

jane d
10-21-2013, 10:38 PM
At my 12 months checkup in August that was a question I really wanted answered by my surgeon, Dr. Lenke . He said he could not tell by the x-rays done at that time. He said a CAT scan would have to be done to really know and he said "I'm sure you wouldn't want that much extra radiation." I agreed but I was disappointed to not really know if I was fused. He said he was sure I was fused by that time.

10-21-2013, 10:46 PM
They should be able to see fusion happening, but there's no test that will tell you with 100% certainty that a fusion is solid.

10-22-2013, 04:20 AM
I was surprised when my surgeon showed me the new bone on my 3 month visit. It didn't look like much, mainly in the lumbar, but he seemed happy with it. If I remember correctly, it looked like fine white lines.

10-22-2013, 10:38 PM
Cool, Jennifer, I will look for the fine white lines.

A corollary, can the surgeon tell if there has not been fusion and that there is non-fusion in an area? I still think about Gayle and her problem with broken rods and finally the surgeon said that she had 2 areas of non-fusion.


10-23-2013, 12:38 AM
They should be able to see fusion happening, but there's no test that will tell you with 100% certainty that a fusion is solid.

Susan, we all want to fuse since that is one of our goals but Linda is right here, they donít know the integrity of the fusion mass and if I remember correctly from one of the meetings, that is really only known upon surgical intervention. Surgeons can go back in and find out that fusion really didnít happen the way they want it to. Body chemistry plays an important part in all of this.

My surgeon told me that I was fusing and showed me the white lines and spacer markers on my x-ray at 6 months. That was nice to see, and was released to do whatever, but I still took things easy since I really wanted a solid fusion. After walking on eggshells at 10 months he wanted me to kick things into gear and at 14 months ďorderedĒ me to go skiing. I was very nervous about this matter....

No falls, no jolts, no slips, no bending, no twisting, no tripping etc. This was on my mind and I wasnít going to let this happen since my surgeries were so hard and didnít want to ever go back in and repeat that agony ever again.

I also was very nervous in the car....and yes, old Speed racer here slowed down quite a bit. Car accidents happen, but shoudnít happen in our recoveries.....I didnít drive unless it was totally necessary.

In the end, it worked.....

Please be careful, textbooks say bone takes 12 months to fuse, and 24 months to remodel.


10-23-2013, 06:50 AM
Dr. Lenke showed me fusion on the 15 month post op xray and saw more fusion on the 22 month post op xray. The 1 year fusion pic is here http://bit.ly/1h7Wb4m

10-23-2013, 01:56 PM
There is a difference between being able to see fusion on xrays (or other tests), and being 100% fused. It doesn't happen all that often, but there is really nothing (not even exploration) that will guarantee that you don't have a microscopic break in the fusion mass. In the end, it really doesn't matter, unless one plans to spend the rest of their life not putting any stress on their torso. If there's a microscopic break, it usually can't be seen or detected. These patients will go on to eventually fuse, or a rod will eventually break. Either way, the fix is relatively easy.


10-26-2013, 04:56 AM
So much for wanting some kind of reassurance....