View Full Version : Spinal Fusion in 1992

03-23-2004, 01:53 PM
I was diagnosed during a school screening at age 11 or so (1950's); there was nothing suggested except go into a body cast for a year and stay home in bed, which I opted not to do. I got married and had two children in my 20's. No problems except the nurses kept wanting to show my back to other nurses since they hadn't seen too much scoliosis, I guess. In my 30's I began to have back problems and muscle aches, which got progressively worse over the next 10 years. At that time, there was no surgery for adults, so I did the best I could to manage the pain and shopping for clothes.
In late 1991 I saw a piece on local TV about adult spinal fusion so I got a referral to Dr. Bruce Fredrickson in Syracuse, whom I had seen ten years previously. He said I was a candidate for the spinal fusion (if I quit smoking, which I did) and so I made preparations to do so in June 1992. The curve had progressed 10 degrees in 10 years, which meant it was pulling my rib cage and causing disfigurement in the abdominal area too. I was fused from T4-L4 and Dr. Fredrickson and his team took 8 hrs to complete the surgery. They removed all the discs and used bone from my left ribs for the fusion. They put in titanium rods, screws and bolts and I spent 8 days in the hospital. Since my bones were strong, I didn't require a brace (which was a possibility) but couldn't go in a car or do anything except walk, lie down, and sit for about 10 minutes at a time for three months.
The curve was reduced by about 30 degrees, and my shoulder blades were even across after the surgery.
However, the rods, esp. the ones near the top of the spine, were causing great discomfort and I had to lie down a lot, which caused me to gain weight.
I consulted with Dr. F several times and complained about the rods. He did remove them 16 months after my initial surgery and I've been fine ever since. He was able to this because of the method he used (TSRH - Texas Scottish Rite Hospital) and the fusion was a good one.
It has been almost 12 years and I'm doing fine. I've had some other problems (left knee and shoulder) due to the scoliosis, but those were long-standing. I had been in pain for 35 years prior to the surgery but didn't realize how much until after the fusion and much of it went away.
The recuperation is long and tedious - you need a lot of support from family and friends, but well worth it. I would do it again if I had to - that's how much it helped me.
I got to know several others thru the NSF Pen Pal program at the time and am still in touch with one of them to this day. We used to help each other using letters and/or phone calls. This on-line forum is more instanteous and can be viewed by so many more people at the same time - it's really wonderful.
Hope this has helped someone out there. I'd be glad to help clarify information given above, or answer any other questions.