View Full Version : thoughts on long fusion

Debra JGL
07-19-2008, 02:36 PM
I wanted to ask those of you with longer fusions or that may know others about the impact on motion, flexibility of having the majority of the thoracic and lumbar spine fused. I recently had an appointment with Dr. Boachie and I was very suprised he recommended a long fusion T-3 to L3 or 4. I did not ask him at my appointment why he wouldn't do a shorter fusion (as 2 other doctors recommended). I guess I was just stunned, foolish, not prepared. But I've been crying for the two days since my appointment, because all this time I thought my fusion would only go to L-1 as the longest option and I viewed this as having minimal impact on flexibility. I felt set on wanting to have the surgery before this, now I'm back to feeling very confused and that I must weigh all my options again. I do have a call into Dr. B to now ask why he wouldn't recommend a shorter fusion or if it is a possibility, and what kind of impact a longer fusion will have on me. I'm feeling like I'm on a roller coaster and I'm looking forward to being on settled ground again.

07-19-2008, 03:48 PM
Debra-- What a tough and confusing time for you! :eek: I would think Dr. B with his expertise would really have what's best for you in the long run as his plan-- but it would be good to check on whether you need that long of a fusion or not, since the others hadn't thought so. Good luck with that!

Here's about me, for what's it's worth. I do have a long fusion-- T2-L4, so 15 levels... but I can't help but think that part of what is taking me longer to recover is from my added age, arthritis, and so on. Back when I was 42, my youngest daughter was just 7 and I know I was doing all kinds of things I haven't done for years now, like getting on the floor to play games, playing ball in the yard, later on tennis, etc. I THINK in a few more years I'll be doing better than I am right now, but I really don't know. I actually still feel like I'm recovering from the surgery, even though it was a little over a year ago now--but I've read it can take 1-3 years for recovery in some of us that are older. I am fairly strong again, but haven't quite got my endurance up-- and am still feeling pretty stiff and awkward, but I think that will get better as I get more used to the new me.

Since you are so much younger than I am, I imagine your recovery will be quicker and your abilities will be greater as well. You just kind of have to picture what it will be like to not be flexible at all in that area-- my fusion is about 20" long-- so if you really want to see, cut off a yardstick (or something with no "give" to it) and strap it to your back from just below your neck to right at your "gluteal cleft" (heh heh-- the technical term for "crack") :) That will show the length of fusion, roughly-- although our body/torso lengths may differ--I'm about 5'3". I'm not sure if that can actually give you a feel for it or not though. Worth a try, maybe. Any bending you do is more like tipping forward. You can find alternate ways to do many things, so all things considered, I don't mind being stiffer now, since everything else is better. :) I got great correction, pain relief, and I'm stable, and I am extremely glad I had the surgery.

Some of the more "middle age" of the over 30 bunch with long fusions may be able to give you more of an idea of what it might be like for you. But everyone is so different that it's really hard to know. Best wishes! Susie

07-19-2008, 04:38 PM
If retention of flexibility is a high priority you might consider trying the Schroth physiotherapeutic method before submitting to surgery. It has a very long track record in Germany of helping patients improve their scoliotic malposture and avoid surgery altogether. There are several Schroth clinics and independent practitioners in the US now.

07-19-2008, 05:36 PM
Dear Writer-- I really don't have any problem with people pursuing alternative methods, or with your posts supporting your "way"-- but I hope you realize that it's definitely not the way to go for many of us. Sometimes you make it sound so pat and that surgery is unnecessary. Some of us have complications compounding our scoliosis problems. And even if that method does have results, it seems to me that in older adults it's been the way it's been (our spines) for so long that I doubt that exercises could change things in a positive way, even over the course of several years. And then there's the need to keep it up with declining abilities and all? :confused: Doesn't sound very workable to me. What you write makes it sound like the Schroth method, by correcting musculature problems, could solve all our scoliosis problems. Even if that could possibly be true, it sure couldn't address the listhesis and stenosis problems that many of us have-- and it seems like it could actually do damage in those cases. Surgery is the only way out, as far as I can see. My curves aren't as severe as some, but if you look at my x-rays (in my signature) you can see the lateral listhesis (look at the 2006 one)-- and my mri (not available in my sig) showed severe stenosis. When you are posting to adults, (and possibly some younger people) you need to remember that it's often not a case of "just" plain scoliosis with milder curves that could possibly be addressed through the Schroth method. (And I'm not going to enter the debate on that.)

I'm not saying you shouldn't post what you post-- just saying that to me it seems like you haven't thought this all the way through when you are addressing the "older bunch" with our own serious problems.

07-19-2008, 07:12 PM
I am fused from T-4 to the Sacrum...doesn't get much longer than that. I had my surgery in December of 2007. I am still in the recovery process but feel that I can live with the range of motion I have. I may not like it but I can live with it. Being fused to L-3 or L4 would probably make a huge difference in my life, however that wasn't an option for me. My surgeon wasn't sure if he could stop at L-5 even and right before surgery I looked him in the eye and told him to treat me the way he would treat his wife. I ended up fused to the sacrum, but have no doubt he did what he truly believed was right for me.

There are things that are different now and if you really want to know the impact it has on my daily life send me an email or PM and I will gladly share all of the intimate details. I am pretty up front and honest and won't pull any punches. Keep in mind my range of motion is more limited than some long fusion because I am fused to the sacrum. And long fusion that include mostly thoracic vertebrae don't limit range of motion nearly as much. BTW I went through surgery at 46 as a single mom of 2 daughters ages 20 and 15. Together we made it through and we make it work everyday.

I also want you to know I have no regrets about the surgery or the length of the fusion. I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat if necessary. I know my quality of life is better and will continue to improve over time.

07-19-2008, 08:50 PM
Hi Debra,

I had surgery almost 8 weeks ago and was fused from T2 to L2 (13 vertebrae). Though that isn't as long as Susie's and Alicia's, I think it is still considered a long fusion. At first I was told I would be fused from T4 to L1 by my surgeon. I went for a second opinion and this surgeon said to at least L3 (you can see my x-rays in my signature and can see why L3 was suggested, but from my post-op x-ray it's easy to see that L2 was good enough). After going back to my surgeon, he had decided to increase my fusion levels after studying my x-rays more to either T2 or T3 to L2 or L3. I was upset about this at first because of the loss of flexibility. I'm only 8 weeks, but I can bend slightly at the waist. I don't do it often because I don't want to hurt myself, but I'm guessing it will get better with time. My surgeon said I should be able to touch my toes eventually (even if I had been fused to L3). This is a tough decision, but to me it was worth it. Good luck!!


07-19-2008, 09:13 PM
I'm T3-sacrum but surgery was back in May with some set backs so I don't know what my long run flexibility will be but so far so good. I think you'll just need to relearn how to do some stuff. Also like mentioned on other threads it depends a lot on your condition going in to surgery and attitude. I sure have no regrets. I was looking to progressing curves and increasing pain. My feelings were do it now while I would get better correction/balance and easier recovery. But it does sound like a good idea to see why Dr Boachie feels the longer fusion is needed.

07-19-2008, 11:56 PM

I am now fused T2 to Sacrum 2. I have just past my one year mark for the last surgery. In 2004 I was fused T2 to Sacrum. At first you really do notice the loss of flexiblity. But as time goes by, you will notice that at lot of it comes back to some degree. I can sit on the floor only if I have a large pillow to sit on and not for a long stretch of time. I can still bend over and pick things up off the floor just in a different way than before. I can not, no matter how many times I have tried, look under the couch, bed or something like that. I can kinda squat from a distance and see a little bit or lay on the floor and look, but getting up from that is not very pretty!!!! After the first surgery I also couldn't put my head back to gargle with mouthwash but now I can! Have you heard back from Dr. B yet? Did your other doctor have MRI's to look at and did dr B? It's possible he saw something there that could cause problems in the future like DDD and is taking that into consideration. Hopefully you'll hear back from him soon and you'll have your answer. I know waiting is tough but he is one of the best!!!! I think that you are in good hands! Try to relax and call his office again or e-mail him if you know his e-mail.

07-20-2008, 01:05 AM
It is tough accepting the fact that they might want to go longer with your construct. The last thing the surgeon or yourself wants is for you to come back into the office down the line and find out that problems arose due to going short. Problems can occur above and below the fused area. Actually I dont think that 1 or 2 discs down low will provide all that much mobility. When it comes to bending foward, most happens from the hips anyway.

As far as mobility is concerned, I can bend foward and reach down to about 3 inches from the floor. I support with one arm on my knee so I dont rip my screws out. Im almost 6 months post now. I dont do this often since I just squat now to get down low. Squatting is something you will get used to and bending foward to pick up something off the floor isnt good for anybodys back.

I would say that some of the things Ive noticed that are of some concern are things like, getting into a car without hitting your head,that took about a month to perfect! Visibility issues are not a problem in the car. I can turn and look out the right rear window of a car. Emptying the dishwasher is the ultimate squatting exercize routine for me. My biggest complaint would have to be the fact that I cannot sleep on my stomach. Its impossible. Sleeping is done on the back or sides.

These are some things that we sacrifice by having the surgery. I was in quite a bit of pain the last few years and I can say that the old scoli pain is gone. It was a good trade for me, and getting used to the inconviences is something that you will get used to. I think of it as entering the next chapter of the book, you will enter a tough chapter and finish it and continue on. The last chapters are always the best part of any book.

"Gluteal cleft". thanks for the info Susie Bee! I no longer have to use "Crack of doom"


07-20-2008, 07:04 AM
I don't know if I am the odd man out here, but I love sleeping on my stomach. It was rough the first few tries but now I have no problem. I just don't use any pillows under my head when I sleep on my stomach. I have a 4 inch Serta memory foam mattress topper and it is quite comfortable without a pillow when I am on my stomach.
It also took me about a month to perfect the getting into the car with out hitting my head thing. I have a convertible and for a while I would have one of my girls put the top down every time I had to get in or out. It was great fun in January when it was 28 degrees out and sometimes snowing!

07-20-2008, 12:33 PM
Geish-- just a thought, but since both Ed and I have troubles on our stomachs, maybe it's a matter of those extra top two vertebrae... both Ed and I start at T2. It is just really uncomfortable for me and feels like I'm trying to bend where I can't bend. I can do it if necessary (like at PT), but it has to be without a pillow. Occasionally I will lie that way for just a little bit (because I miss that feeling of being on my tummy after all those years of sleeping that way) but I would never try to sleep that way, at least not at this point. But then again, I can't sleep on my side either. I'll lie that way for maybe 5 minutes, but that's about it, then I have to go back to being on my back. Oh well. I'm really used to being on my back now, so it's ok. "Small potatoes" in the big picture. :rolleyes: Any of you other T2 or above people have problems lying on your stomachs? Although I don't want to hijack Debra's thread...

Glad you liked the "gluteal cleft" bit, Ed! :D But I think "crack of doom" is pretty interesting too! ;)

Debra-- it looks like, all in all of the people who responded, we are all glad we had our surgeries and are able to compensate for the flexibility we don't have any more... It's good to know what to expect so you are not disappointed with the limitations you will have from a long fusion. But our lives are going to be much better than they would have been if we hadn't had the fusion. Who cares (not me!) if I could have hunched my back better and been more flexible, but would have experienced progressively worse pain, compromised my lung/heart function, my ability to walk, or compromised bowel and bladder function! :eek: YIKES! Give me a stiff back over those any day!

Again, best wishes as you sort through your feelings and the information you have-- and are still acquiring. It's a tough choice-- and one that is an individual thing. We are all so different-- and it may be that you are not wiling to give up that flexibility right now-- and that may be a viable choice for you. And it could be too, that Dr. B is giving you his conservative view and might change his opinion as he looks at your case longer. My surgeon changed from his decision to do A/P (I had the two dates set up till the last month or two)-- and ended up with just posterior fusion-- and there are others with similar stories. So the best bet may be to just ask him, see if he's positive it needs to be that long-- and why!, and then base your decision on what you see will be best for you in the long run. Hugs, Susie

07-20-2008, 12:51 PM

I am almost 7 months out, fused T2 - L2. I have regained a lot of flexibility - squatting is my friend :) - and I can get into my car without hitting my head (I had thought I'd need to buy an SUV). In fact, I feel a lot more flexible than before my surgery.

I consulted with 2 other very well respected spine surgeons before consulting with Dr. B: all 3 had proposed different approaches (posterior only or anterior + posterior, number of vertebrae to be fused, etc.). I think the reason spine surgeons differ on approach is due to their training and experience, so I'm not surprised that you are faced with several options.

I chose Dr. B not because of his proposed approach (which he revised slightly at the time of my 2nd consultation, based on his studying my MRI & x-rays again) but on other factors: his very conservative approach - he said he would not try for a "perfect" correction because he feared that doing so would put so much strain at the top & bottom vertebrae that the fusion would likely have to be extended at each end within a few years. One of the other doctors said he could achieve a perfect correction with a posterior-only approach, and I would regain all of the 3 3/4 inches in height that I had lost over the years; when I later consulted with Dr. B., I realized that the other surgeon was focused on immediate results, not on what my condition might be a few years later.

I am delighted that my back is so much straighter now - there is still a slight kyphotic hump that only the PTs have noticed, and that I regained only 2 1/4 inches. I look and feel so much better.

Your feelings of confusion, uncertainty and sadness are all quite normal - this is a huge decision to make. Give yourself all the time you need to decide what is best for you. I am sure that Dr. B. will provide you with the answers you seek (I was so overwhelmed by the decision making that even though I knew Dr. B. was the right one for me, and that I needed the surgery sooner rather than later, I waited 2 months after my initial consultation before I had the courage to actually schedule the surgery).

You are in my thoughts. Let us know what Dr. B. says.

07-20-2008, 01:48 PM

Well I am 25 years out from surgery and I don't regret having it. I literally would not be here if I didn't have the operation, so I may be biased on that one. :) I am fused from T2 - L4.

To be honest I do have problems now. What I believe, and what I am trying to get my doctors to believe, is that the discs below my rods have deteriorated because my only spinal movement has been in a few vertebrae below my rods. Twenty-five years of that and there is a problem. I'm having pinched nerves that tingle and numb my right side, leg and arm, and into my left leg at times too. Sometimes shooting pain as well, if I overdo it. I am taking this seriously, as I'm only 37 and have a lot of life yet to live. I want to get this fixed.

However, when I had surgery there wasn't really any thought on the long term consequences of the surgery. There was no physical therapy, no exercises given me. This is very important I have come to learn. Back in 2000 I saw one of the doctors who performed my surgery and he was surprised I had no exercises given me, so he gave me some to do. I didn't do them. Now I am in the position I am in. Would exercises, if I did them, have stopped disc degeneration? No I don't believe so, but it would have delayed it by a considerable margin.

I would ask the doctor who recommended the long fusion why not the shorter fusions. Always get as much information as you can so you can make a decision. In the end you still have to trust the doctor to know what they are talking about, but also know for yourself too.


07-20-2008, 04:27 PM
When I roll over to my stomach, it feels like Im bending my rods and adding more lordosis in the small of my back. I dont think it has anything to do with being fused up to T2.

Ive done it twice now for about 5 minutes and when I stand up, it feels like Im leaning back slightly. When I see the Doc next on Aug 8th I will bring it up and of course we will look at the x-rays to see if everythings ok. Scary stuff!
I have no pain at all down low, and if I have pain it is usually up high. All my life, most of the pain was down low, and now if I have pain its up high.

Alicia is using a 4 inch foam topper and that sounds like a good idea. Its time to go back to the mattress factory. Im using a 2 inch topper, and I dont think its enough.

The addition of the foam on top of the bed was a life saver. I have a medium tempurpedic and it wasnt soft enough.

07-20-2008, 05:42 PM
You have already got a lot of replies, but I guess my 2 cents can't hurt either - I'm fused from T12 to L3. I feel like I have enough flexibility now - just one year out of surgery. I am bending from my waist, which I didn't think I could ever do again. It is amazing how the body adjusts. My surgeon told me that I would lose flexibility, and of course, I can't bend my back, but I don't feel like it lessens my quality of life. Sometimes I forget that I can't bend or twist in certain ways now, but my body reminds me and I adjust. There are many more benefits of the surgery that out-weigh the loss of some flexibility.

Best of luck to you,

07-20-2008, 07:07 PM
I'm pretty sure Anya's fusion is T4-L3. I think she just did a typo. She has a long fusion-- she sent me her before and after back pics for my scrapbook, so I know from looking that it's not T12.

OK, Ed, so it's not related to how high the fusion goes with not being able to lie down on your stomach. But it makes sense to me... I think that may be my problem anyway. :rolleyes: My bed feels comfy, so that's not the problem. (Although I do like it firm...) Let us know what your doctor says.

07-20-2008, 07:27 PM
Long fusions are done for many reasons like a double curve, big C-curve etc...But what you have to remember is that if you are fused to L-4, then eventually L-5 will degenerate since it carries all the stress of the fused levels. I am fused from T-3 through S-1 and you get used to it. I still ride my horse. There are a lot worse things that can happen to a person in life (Just my philosophy) and my fusion is just an inconvenience. If a surgeon of Dr. Boachie's reputation and skill recommends that length of fusion, then that is what is best for you in the long run.

07-21-2008, 10:17 AM
Wow, thats a lot of responses!!
I have been fused now for 10 years...you learn to live within you means really. It hasn't stopped me from doing much. I can bend over and touch the floor just fine. I do get lots of comments on my great posture :)

07-21-2008, 12:46 PM
Hi Debra,
I'm fused T-10 through L-5 which probably isn't considered a long fusion but it's low so I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in. I'm only 6 weeks post-op so I don't really have a feel of what my flexibility will be in the long run. But, for me, the flexibility or lack-thereof really wasn't a factor when I was making my decision on whether to have surgery or not. For the last 2 years or so, I have been in enough pain that I didn't do a lot of bending or twisting anyway. My quality of life was rapidly declining and by the time I scheduled my surgery date, I was just excited about the prospect of being rid of at least some of the pain.

I can tell you that at this point, I haven't noticed any problems reaching down. I can shave my legs (but I do have long gorilla arms), tie my shoes and I even cut my toenails by myself this morning. It's a little scary thinking that maybe I shouldn't be able to do those things but I can.

I guess what I'm saying is everybody has different priorities. Flexibility just wasn't a big enough issue to even weigh-in on the decision. I needed less pain and more quality, and I have to say it appears I've gotten both.

I wish you peace in making your decision. This has to be one of the toughest parts of the whole process. Don't forget that we're here for you!

07-21-2008, 12:54 PM

The only way I can lay on my stomach comfortably is when I have a massage done. They drop the head rest down for me. I think it might have to do with how big of a lordosis curve you have. Dr. LaGrone gave me a larger lordosis curve than what I had before and it is a little easier to lay on my stomach. Still not comfortable, can only do it for a couple of minutes and cannot have a pillow.....whereas before this last surgery....not at all. Like others have said, felt like my spine was being really stressed.

07-22-2008, 10:25 AM
I have a question for those of you "older" patients (ha ha, I'm actually older than many of you posting here). How many of you had longer fusions some time ago, then, years later experience problems at the bottom of your fusion any way?

My daughter is now 13, was fused last August from T2-T11 with curves of 61T and 53L, the lumbar curve was thought to be compensating. However, the lumbar curve did not correct as much as we had hoped, it is now at 36. It does not appear to be worsening (in fact, from Feb-May it actually improved slightly), but, the doctors don't give us much hope that it will continue to reduce. In Feb, her surgeon said he may want to further fuse to L2, "because she should look better after all she's been through". A second opinion said she should be fused to L3 or L4 soon, so that she would still have growth left after the long fusion. He said that he would predict back problems in middle age if we don't correct now. He also stated that this correction would purely be cosmetic at this time. Neither doctor believes that this curve will continue to get worse.

She is having no pain at this time, the lumbar curve is noticeable to me (although the rest of my family doesn't think that it is). The doctor's report (I just got) says there is noticeable trunk shift to left, and, her hips are asymetrical at this time (shoulder blades are even), top looks good. Although he also said he'd do a thoracoplasty, but, that's another story.

I am struggling with what to do for her. I question whether doing a long fusion now wouldn't just put stress further down the spine, and in middle age she would still have problems regardless. I see many comments about the stress on the back below the fusion, I can't help but feel that if she were fused to L4 now, the stress would go to L5, like someone above has said.

Would you have rather had a long fusion earlier in life, with the loss of mobility...vs having waited until later when you may or may not have begun to have back problems? And, do you think that had you been fused longer earlier in life that this would have prevented the back problems in the first place?

I know everyone's situation is different, I would just like to hear what others would have wanted for themselves if they could have chosen. My daughter has no complaints at this time (physically or appearance), and gives me no opinion either way. It's a tough decision to be making.

07-22-2008, 11:52 AM
Hello All! I am fused T2-sacrum and it has been 2 years now since my last surgery(4 surgeries). I had A & P with cages, osteotomies, and they added a third rod via triple-rod technique. I cannot lay on my stomach unless I'm in physical therapy and my belly/hips are supported with a pillow and my neck in a donut tilted down. As far as flexibility goes with a longer fusion yeah you loose some but it out weighs the reward, and you would be surprised how your body accomodates and you learn how to move as a unit. I have a question for "Theresa". How much lordosis did Dr. LaGrone give you? I was curious! I had 16 degress pre-op and 74 degress post-op. but that is now creating problems for me b/c I have too much. Was this your first surgery and surgeon? I would appreciate any info. you can provide. Thanks!

Amanda 30 yrs. old from St. Louis MO
1st surgery 2002- Dr. Bridwell STL. fused posteriorly T4-L4 (he didn't do the anterior staged portion so I developed severe flatback)

2nd surgery 2005- NC. 13 hr. A&P surgery. T2-sacrum with cages, osteotomies, laminotomies, and laminectomies.

3rd surgery 2005- NC. Revision of lumbar spine for failed fusion and removal of T12 screw that was bothering me (woke up with no rods from T2-T11 and there was never any mention of this by him or my permission to do so).

4th surgery 2005- NC. After progression of T-spine curve after rod removal he agreed to re-istrument them in and to explore the lumbar spine. Woke up with extensive work done in lumbar spine, more osteotomies, and a triple rod. Did not put my thoracic rods back in. Immediately after surgery my right foot was in a contracted equinovarus position and could not actively move foot, it was limp. Was in a wheelchair and still am for long distances. Had to have 2 foot surgeries as a result of this.

Currently seeking opinions for thoracic spine to be re-fused straight and rods to be re-instrumented. Know of any other great drs.? They all seem to be in NY or MD. :eek:

Hanging in there...

07-22-2008, 01:22 PM
Why didn't you go back to Dr. Bridwell? Dr. LaGrone did my third surgery. My other doctor said it was okay with him since that was Dr. LaGrone's specialty....dealing with prior fusions and flatback. He did over correct me some but that is because as you heal you lose some of the correction. I don't know what the degree is. Somewhere in here I posted my x-rays after the first surgery and after the third surgery. You can see on the side views the big difference in my lordosis curve. Dr. LaGrone was very nice and you can get some pretty good prices on Southwest Airlines to Amarillo. I do not recommend driving back after the surgery! For us it was 9 hours so we did it in two 4 1/2 days. The first day was okay, but the second day was really rough. But if you can, you should really go out to see him before making any decisions. When you looked at my x-rays clinically I was corrected. But when you saw me in person, you could tell something wasn't right. Let us know what you do.

07-22-2008, 02:28 PM
I have a question for those of you "older" patients (ha ha, I'm actually older than many of you posting here). How many of you had longer fusions some time ago, then, years later experience problems at the bottom of your fusion any way?

I guess I qualify, my sugery was 25 years ago when I was 12. :D I'm fused T2-L4, and yes I have problems now. It started about 10 years ago, but didn't hamper me in any way, until recently. I am having nerve pinching that I believe is from disc degeneration, I am currently going, slowly, through doctors trying to get them to treat the problem not the symptoms. I don't regret having my surgery at all, I literally would not be here if I didn't.

However there was no talk of exercises when I did my surgery, and at that time they weren't even looking at the long term effects of fusions. Now they do, and they have exercises to help keep the muscles in your back strong, which will give you long term help.

It is a tough decision, one you need to talk with your doctor about, and your daughter. But get as much info as possible before making the decision.


07-22-2008, 02:40 PM
I wouldn't consider myself older, but I have had my fusion for 10 years.

I do have problems now, but we are crossing our fingers that it is due to failed fusion and broken hardware, and not degenerative discs.

I agree with Brad, I think you should talk with the doctor and your daughter. See what will happen if you don't fuse now, what could that result in. I was never given an option for how long the fusion could be, but I do not regret my surgery.

07-23-2008, 12:49 AM

I didn't go back to Dr. Bridwell b/c after two years of going back for post-op. visits and keeping him updated with letters of how physical therapy, facet injections, poor posture, and terrible pain he just continuously ignored it and passed it off that my hip flexors were tight. I also have spasticity from my original injury so there aren't many drs. who can actually understand how the spasticity plays into my case. I talked with Dr. L's office yesterday and they recommended that patients traveling from out of state should send all of their x-rays, diagnostics, and a brief history. I will also get a current MRI since things have changed since my last one 2 years ago. I agree with you, it looks like my lordosis is good but my sagittal balance is off with C7 sitting way in front of L5-S1 when dropping a plumb line. When you look at me I look awful. I still lean forward and my cervical spine is hyperlordotic, I also lean to my left side when looking at me from an AP view on x-ray or in person. L's office will review my stuff and then contact me to let me know if he can help me out. I sure hope so. It gets very expensive traveling to drs. out of state to find out that it's too involved for them. I commend L's office for really thinking about the expense involved for a patient and their family and not making them travel to TX. unless something can be done. I'll let you know what I find out in the next few weeks. I just want some relief...

Amanda :eek:

07-23-2008, 01:10 PM

That is basically what was happening for me after my first two surgeries! After the 2004 surgery they did another surgery consisting of an osteotomy at L3. They had actually thought about doing is during the first surgery but due to issues that came up they decided to get out and see what would happen. The osteotomy was a great success but I still leaned forward and decompensated to the left. Also from the first surgery I now have intercoastal neuralgia (sp) in my right rib area and continually pain at the bottom of my spine. When dr LaGrone saw my digital x-rays my plumb line was only like 2 cm off. According to the textbooks that should be an acceptable amount to be off. I think it was like up to 4 cm max. Dr. LaGrone prefers the full x-rays (the real long ones). That showed I was alot more that just 2 cm off! When he did the osteotomy at L2 he also cut deeper into the left side to balance me better and did alot of manipulations while he was in there. Also due to having a partial vertabra in the lumbar sacrum area is why he fused further down to S2. He was including that partial in the fusion because there was some movement to it. When I picked up my hospital reports when we went for my 1 year checkup I found out how bad off I was and why I had to spend 3 days in CCU. My family told me my lungs had been filling up with fluid and my heart had swelled up. But they didn't want me to be worried about it so it was talked about as it was something little. It was probably a good idea to do that since I have aniexty problems. The doctors mentioned in their reports while I was in CCU I was having aniexty issues. Now I understand why my family could only see me every 4 hours for just a few minutes. I didn't understand why they couldn't see me more. Oh yeah, I was also told I have hip flexion contractures by both doctors. I think you'll really like Dr. LaGrone. Keep me informed on how it goes.

Debra JGL
08-09-2008, 02:39 PM
Thank you to you all for your kind, understanding, and honest responses! I still feel uncertain, but ALL your responses play an important part of my decision. I know the right choice that I will feel good about will become clear to me. My main concern is for the future and progression, as many of you said, with my lung function possibly declining and the condition of my spine worsening and increasing pain and decreasing surgical options. But I must weigh this against not being in too much pain now, having no limmitations to what I can do, my children being fairly young (I got a laugh from the person who pointed out the difficulty in looking for things under the couch), and potential future advances. I do feel good though about Dr. Boachie. The prospect of correcting these curves is so exciting to me but I know I have to feel good about the procedure. I have not spoken to Dr. B about my concerns yet, I called but the office said he would talk to me after the MRI was done and he wrote his report up on me. Hopefully this coming week I'll get to speak to him. I'll keep you posted.

I happened to be in a Wawa the other day and in front of me I noticed a lovely young woman with a beautiful figure with a scar down her back (compliments of summer attire). She told me she was fused down to her sacrum 4 years ago and said, with a twinkle in her eye, it was the best thing she ever did. She reminded me of many of you with your encouraging stories, and warm, understanding hearts.

Thank you to you ALL again!!