View Full Version : my surgery story

12-12-2005, 03:09 AM
Hello everyone,
I had a major lumbar curve around 70 degrees and have a thoracic curve about 60 degrees. I had 2 part surgery on November 15th and 22nd. The first surgery went smoothly and I did not even need a blood transfusion. After the second surgery I was supposed to be fused from sacrum to T3 but I started bleeding heavily and the surgeon fused sacrum to T8 only. I lost one and a half liters of blood and required 8 units of replacement blood. The surgeon said that I could come back in a few months to fuse T7 to T3. I already have a cervical fusion from C4 to C7. If I get fused to T3 I will only have T1 to T3 unfused, and the doctor said that the chances are good that I will have to get those fused sometime in the future. He also said that my thoracic curve will not worsen, since I am fused above and below and I may even get some correction. So now I have a 15 degree fused lumbar curve and a 60 degree thoracic curve. I guess I am disappointed with the results somewhat since my shoulder levels are still uneven. But I tried on some dresses today and I still looked pretty symmetrical. I'm thinking of postponing the surgery for the thoracic fusion as long as possible. I hate making these decisions, I agonized over whether to fuse all the way to the sacrum as the doctor left the decision up to me. Next summer I am going to Philadelphia and will take my xrays with me for some opinions. I would love to hear from anyone in this predicament, but I get the feeling that I'm unique. I hope this post makes sense, I'm still taking those nasty oxycontins. :confused:

01-04-2006, 01:32 PM
Hello Linda,

I am a 56-year-old woman contemplating surgery for a 75 degree lumbar curve which would require fusion to the sacrum. Since you've already had this surgery, can you tell me how much mobility and flexibility you have lost. Can you bend at all?


01-04-2006, 02:01 PM
I'll just jump in here LOL. I'm fused from T3-S1, I had the A/P done in 2002 at the age of 52. The loss of mobility for me isn't that bad. Yes, there is a loss, but I look and feel better. It took me 6 months to figure out how to get my foot up to where I could tie my shoes. You learn to do things differantly. I can still get down on the ground and plant flower blubs and pull weeds. I drive/do the laundry/shop/grocery store etc. If you didn't know me and that I'm fused, you wouldn't even notice. I don't walk like "the tin man".

The surgery was hard and the recovery harder, but in the end worth it. I don't pick up dirty socks off the floor like I use to, but that's OK :D The husband is a lot neater now LOL.

01-04-2006, 02:43 PM
Dear Linda/and/or Sandy,

Did they tell you why they would do the Anterior/posterior procedure for your condition as opposed to the posterior?

I have a T-63, L-75 double curve and at my first visit with the surgeon, he mentioned a posterior only surgery. However, I've read about several people with big double curves like mine who had both approaches. I'm 46. Was wondering what made the difference. (I don't see him again until next month)>


01-04-2006, 04:43 PM

I am 64 now, and had curves of 78, 75. I am fused to the sacrum . I am almost a year out, (Feb) and do not notice much lack of mobility compared to before the operation. I still have problems getting my shoes tied and picking up objects on the floor. However, I believe these chores will improve with time. You will bend from the hip. It is so important to choose a surgeon who has cut on women who are older, and a hospital with a low staph infection rate. If you are in good shape, active and reasonably thin, you will do well. Kathleen

01-04-2006, 05:03 PM
Sandy and Kathleen,

Thanks very much for your input. It's reassuring to know there are other mature women besides myself who have gone through this and are doing well.


01-04-2006, 05:13 PM
The reason I had the A/P was because I had "flatback" due to a pervious Harrington Rod. My doc felt he would get better correction with that approach.

01-05-2006, 04:10 AM
I think all surgeons have different ideas. I am 42 and expecting surgery within the next 3 months. I have double 60+ curves and my surgeon wants to to T3 to L5 all anterior. I amazed that he thinks he can do a thoracic curve so high anterior only but that is his intention. He did say that once under the knife they may be forced to "flip me over" and complete the procedure posterior but he hopes not to!

I guess it all comes down to what each individual surgeon is best at.

01-05-2006, 07:35 AM
If I go ahead with this operation, my Dr. would do anterior/posterior operations, one after the other. 10 days in the hospital. I think I'll be a real challenge-curves 60 thoracic, 60 lumbar & 95 thoracolumbar

01-05-2006, 05:07 PM
I guess how much flexibility you lose depends on how you much you had before surgery. Like Sandy, it is harder for me to pick things up off the floor and get my shoes on. It is harder to get up after lying down, especially if I'm lying on the floor. To me, the hardware feels like an internal brace holding me up, which is good, because I felt like I was collapsing before the surgery. I still walk like the "tin man" sometimes, but I'm only 6 weeks post op. I don't think I "log roll" getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe because I don't have a thoracic fusion.
I have an incision on my right side where the surgeon removed a rib and inserted the spacers between the lumbar vertebrae. The rib can be used for fusion, but there are alternatives to that like cadaver bone and synthetic bone. That was the first operation. The surgeon told me that he sometimes puts hardware in the front (anterior) to help stabilize a thoracic curve, but in my case he didn't think it would be necessary because I still showed some flexibility in the bending xrays. I'm not sure if he would've done that the first or second part of the surgery. He did not fuse my thoracic curve anyway.
If you get other opinions you may find that other doctors have different ideas about the surgery procedure.

I asked for some names and phone numbers of women who had been fused to the sacrum at my doctor's office. They were the best help I had. When we got together they showed me what they could and couldn't do, they showed me their scars and I heard their stories. They patiently answered all my questions. They told me what to expect from the doctor and the hospital and afterwards at home. They even visited me when I was in the hospital.