View Full Version : Is it possible that fusion didn't work?

08-08-2014, 10:20 AM
Hi everyone,

I haven't posted in a while. I had my surgery last November, T3-L3 to reduce my top curve from 58 down to almost 15. The surgery went very well and overall I'm feeling pretty good. Daily aches and pains and still using Ultram but Im staying active with walking and gentle yoga. I had a herniated disc too and that seems to be getting better. After the surgery I remember looking in the mirror and being so happy to see my top right hump almost gone and noticing how much more evenly my shirts lay across my chest. Maybe I'm going crazy but I feel like the hump is getting bigger again. I have my 9 month checkup next week and am going to ask my doctor to take another X ray which he would probably do anyway. Perhaps its just paranoia, but after everything I went through over the past 9 months, I'm praying the fusion worked and everything is OK. I have 2 rods and 22 screws. Is it possible things could shift around or the fusion didn't work? Any feedback is appreciated.

Thank you!


08-08-2014, 10:51 AM
I am not by any means an expert. But this is not the first story I've heard about people's appearance changing from immediate post-surgical to later on. I don't have an answer to what causes that. But, like I said, I've seen it before. It is possible that a fusion doesn't take at every level. It's called a pseudoarthrosis. It requires revision surgery. However, you are only 9 months out. I think they give you a year to fuse. But I could be wrong. If you are young, you have age on your side.

You are right about requesting new x-rays when you go. You can compare them to your x-rays right after surgery. I'm sure you doctor will be able to answer your questions when you go. I will warn you that you can't always see a pseudoarthrosis on x-ray. You can also ask your doctor about that. In fact, I would suggest writing a list of questions with the most important questions on the top and the least important question on the bottom just in case he doesn't have time to answer them all.

Please let us know how your appointment goes. Best wishes.

08-08-2014, 11:59 AM
Thanks rohrer01. I will ask for another X ray to compare from after surgery. It might just be in my head...Im hoping. I just wonder once the rods and screws are placed in, does that truly mean that the curve wont increase at all? What are the chances of it increasing. I was told the chances are very low. The rods are placed in to correct the curve but also to help prevent it from increasing. I'll definitely post again after my appt next week.

08-08-2014, 02:14 PM
Hi there,

I think it is really common for the curves to "settle" a little and the appearance of the back to change somewhat over time. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with the fusion or the hardware. This definitely happened to me. I would try to not worry too much, and ask your surgeon about it next week.

08-08-2014, 08:24 PM
Hi Jill,

My back appearance changed a little too since the surgery. Like you, I was paranoid and looked at mirror every single day. All my x-rays were normal and the doctor said fusion looks good. I think, part of it might be change in weight. I lost a lot of weihgt after the surgery and looked like a skeleton. Now, I gained my weight back... I am actually a little heavier than before the surgery and may be that little increase in hump is just fat that I didn't have right after the surgery?

08-08-2014, 09:22 PM
This is something I've heard a lot, but I haven't actually seen anyone who has had surgery in recent years, whose rib humps were significantly larger at follow-up. It could be that certain techniques allow the ribs to re-rotate somewhat, or it could be perception.

08-08-2014, 11:15 PM
My kyphosis was pretty much resolved by the surgery, but I now have a kyphosis in the cervical area. I do not like how it looks, but so far I have little discomfort.


08-09-2014, 09:48 AM
My kyphosis was pretty much resolved by the surgery, but I now have a kyphosis in the cervical area. I do not like how it looks, but so far I have little discomfort.


Susan, have you mentioned this to Dr. Hu? If not, I would. Where does your fusion begin at the top?
Anyway, I don't mean to hijack this thread but thought it was worth mentioning. I'm not sure of the term since I haven't been on here for awhile, but isn't there something called proximal junction kyphosis? It's where you develop kyphosis just above your fusion. That's why I thought you should mention that to your doctor.
I hope you are feeling well these days!

08-09-2014, 12:23 PM
Yes, would prefer if the thread got back on subject.

Susan probably has proximal junctional kyphosis, which is VERY common in adults. Perhaps the discussion of that can move over to Susan's thread.

08-11-2014, 08:44 AM
Sorry about that. It wasn't meant to continue. I only made a comment because it was mentioned and it is another complication that can happen.
If we focus on complications when we decide to have surgery, we would drive ourselves nuts. It's good to be informed, but not to the point of making us paranoid. I sincerely hope that Jill's fusion is solid and stable. I even find myself examining my rib humps for changes and I haven't had surgery. I think it's pretty normal for us to know our body shapes a little too well.

My apologies Jill.

08-11-2014, 10:33 AM
Please keep us informed

I will be praying for you


08-30-2014, 10:27 PM
Jill--I almost hesitate to say this, I may have before though. I hate bringing in a negative truth at least in my case. My rib hump was much better at first but has definitely gotten worse each year since. Not as bad as before surgery. At 5 year check-up this April I asked for the measurement for that--can't remember what they call it. 2 years before it had increased 2+ from year before. I knew it was worse again by how clothes fit and just looking at it. Dr. said he didn't want to focus on that. I was rather crushed cuz that was my main question. I guess that response pretty much answered it anyway. I actually wrote back and asked if they could give me the reading on it from x-rays because I was so upset they wouldn't give me a "score" for it. But can't do it with x-rays. Granted by the time we got in it was 6 PM and he probably didn't want to deal with it then. Otherwise he's been a very good surgeon.

I bet this has nothing to do with the fusion. That stays. But that doesn't prevent a fused spine from rotating--almost like on its axis. My myofascial massage therapist and now physical therapist work the intercostal? muscles along my ribs. It truly can make it appear better. Maybe doesn't last long but it helps. My husband can even tell the difference. For the last 4 1/2 years he tried to say it wasn't so bad. He now admits that it is much larger.

I actually took pictures every month for a long time of my back to see the difference. However, at 9 months that is very early and could just be from the swelling going down and then you see the true nature of backafter surgery. Settling is part of it too. Mine was pretty pathetic to start with and like you said it was exciting originally to see it so much flatter.

Maybe this doesn't normally happen but it seems it has been somewhat overlooked by surgeons.

It was a "have to" situation so it's still way better than if I hadn't done it 5 years ago! Janet

08-30-2014, 10:40 PM
I think the return of the rib hump is actually a relatively rare thing, at least in people who got good correction originally. I can't imagine what would cause it to occur in a small subset of people. I'll ask around and see if anyone has a theory.