View Full Version : How Long Does Surgery Last

01-07-2009, 08:37 AM
I know that times can be very different on this but about how long does the actual spinal fusion surgery take? I have been told anywhere from 3 to 8 hours. So I am just curious about everyone elses.:)

01-07-2009, 11:02 AM
Depends on the number of levels fused, inter alia.

My kid was fused from T4 to L1 and was done in 4.5 hours. They told us to expect 5 hours.

01-07-2009, 11:21 AM
My son was fused T2 to L4. They rolled him into the OR from the holding area at 8:15am. They called us at 9:30am to tell us the first incision had been made. The surgeon came out to tell us the outcome and show us the first x-rays at 5:30pm. We did not see our son until he was rolled out of recovery at 6:00pm, and then it was another 45 minutes (6:45pm) before he was settled in the PICU and we could see him there.

So although the actual surgery took 8 hours, the prep and recovery times added at least an hour on either end. I'm sure this, too, depends on how many levels are fused.

No matter what, it's a long day.

01-07-2009, 11:37 AM
Patrick was fused from T4 to L1 and he was in surgery for 8 hours. He was put in traction so the time for setting that up would have to be taken off the actual "surgery" time. So under anesthetic for 8 hours anyways, and we first saw him about two hours after the surgery was done.


01-07-2009, 12:39 PM

This is also the video where one of those guys can be clearly heard saying kids go back to school a week after surgery (or something close to that).

They may say how often these surgeries last and what controls the length of time. They say plenty of other things.

01-07-2009, 12:48 PM

Page 10.

The surgeon says most kids are out of school 2-3 weeks but some can get back to school in a week or so.

Then he loses his train of thought. I think his brain was trying desperately to signal his mind that those comments don't comport with the bulk of kids' recoveries out there. :eek:

01-07-2009, 03:10 PM
Thanks for your response everyone. I guess you just never know about the time since they don't exactly know what is going to be done until they actually see it. I know it is going to feel like forever. That is what really scares me right now. I really don't like to think about it.


I am going to look at that site when I get a chance. I can't imagine being recovered enough for school in only a week (no matter how small). He probably did realize how stupid that sounded. I am not really worried about the school thing. I started homeschooling my kids this year. We have really enjoyed it and I am so glad that we don't have to deal with the school system this year. We had to deal with all of that when she had her tethered cord surgery and it was a nightmare.:eek: It will be nice just to catch up on our own time.


01-07-2009, 03:15 PM
My daughter is fused from T3-L2. She was taken into the OR at 7:45 a.m. and went into recovery at 5:00 p.m. so over 9 hours in the OR. I wasn't able to see her until 6:00 p.m. in recovery.

Mary Lou

01-07-2009, 04:47 PM
Mary Lou,

Yikes! I just can't even think about all of that time. I think I need to block that for now. How did you handle it?? Pray the whole time?? When Katelyn had her tethered cord surgery, it seemed like forever. It was actually only two hours. :eek:

01-07-2009, 05:59 PM

Yikes is right!:D We were the first people in the waiting room and the last people to leave. It was a loooong day. How did I handle it? I survived. My husband does NOT do well with waiting so he went to work, with the understanding that he would come if I felt I needed him. He called me hourly which helped. My mom was with me the entire time. My sister-in-law stopped by unannounced and I think that was the best part of the wait. She simply hugged me and sat with me for a long time. My mom was a great help, but sometimes she annoyed me. She was nervous of course and she talked non-stop! Sometimes I needed to just be quiet. Talking to others in the waiting room helped. But I think the part that made it bearable, was a nurse came to the waiting room every two hours to update all of us who were waiting. And best of all, Jamie's surgeon was awesome! He had his nurse call from the OR everytime he did something--called when he made his first incision (re-assured me that Jamie was very calm through everything), called when they placed the first rod, etc. and always asked if I had any questions and also asked how I was doing.

As hard as it is to imagine, you can do it. The waiting is always the hardest part. Remember to drink plenty of water and don't forget to eat. You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of your Katelyn. She needs you.

Mary Lou

01-07-2009, 08:36 PM
Mary Lou,

THANKS for reminding me that its not about me. I know she does need me, and thats why I know I will get through it. I will be so glad when I can look back on all this. Maybe I can help someone else then, instead of being the whiner. :):)


01-08-2009, 06:29 AM

You are NOT a whiner! And I did NOT mean to imply that it is about your daughter and not you. I always remind moms that they need to take care of themselves because we all know we put ourselves on the backburner whenever necessary.

Before you know it, you'll be on the "other side" of surgery and offering comfort and support to others. Jamie is 4 years post-op, but I still come here regularly because it feels good to pay it forward. I don't know how I would have gotten through Jamie's surgery without the love and support of this forum.

It sound like you need something to make you smile. I hope this does. After a very long day of waiting, I finally got to see Jamie in recovery. Guess what her first words to me were? "Hi Mom, your hair is a mess!" Yep, I knew right then and there that I was blessed and had my Jamie back. :)

Mary Lou

01-08-2009, 09:38 AM

This is also the video where one of those guys can be clearly heard saying kids go back to school a week after surgery (or something close to that).

They may say how often these surgeries last and what controls the length of time. They say plenty of other things.

I didn't view the video yet (I have *very* slow dial-up), but the first surgeon we saw said my dd could return to school after 3 weeks. :eek:

Needless to say, we moved on from him. ;)


01-08-2009, 01:36 PM

It is not unrealistic for kids to return to school in 3 weeks. My daughter's surgeon gave her permission to return at about 3 weeks post-op and she was ready. However, because it was Christmas break, she didn't return until she was about 4 weeks post-op. She was back in school full-time by 6 weeks.

By the way, this doctor was our FIFTH opinion. ;)

Mary Lou

01-08-2009, 04:31 PM
Our surgeon did not tell us when my daughter could or could not go back to school. He just leaves it up to the kids I guess.

If I recall the written material he gave us, it said most kids return by three or four weeks but I don't know if that is full or part time.

Our first post-surgical appointment was at six weeks. He didn't ask about it before I mentioned when my daughter returned. He might have if I didn't... don't know.

01-08-2009, 06:16 PM
Jesse went into the OR at 7:30 am, surgery was finished around 3:30-4 and we saw him in ICU about 45 minutes after that. (fused T2-L1) The surgical nurse liason updated us every 1 1/2 hours, they were prepping the skin, first incision, inserting hardware etc. The time went by faster than I thought. I anticipated being a wreck and couldn't fathom how I was going to make it through all those hours. (a little Ativan didn't hurt either) To pass the time, we played on the laptop, wrote out Christmas cards, puzzle books and magazines. We had breakfast after our first update and planned lunch and walks around the other updates.
As far as returning to school, our surgeon originally said 4-6 weeks. Jesse goes back Monday 1/2 days for a week (he'll be 4 weeks post op), then the following week he can return full time.
I'm going to echo Mary Lou. STAY HYDRATED AND MAKE SURE YOU EAT!!
After Jesse's second stint in the hospital, there was a night while standing supporting Jesse as the nurse was changing the linens (he had the sweats), she had to hit the "all call" button because my blood sugar dropped and I was on the verge of vomiting and passing out. From that point on when checking on Jesse, the nurses would check in with me, too. The nurses and surgeon's fellow said too many times moms burn themselves out.
It's a lot of work mentally and physically helping your child through recovery. Between tending to Jesse's needs, catching some z's while he slept, I forgot to eat 3 meals a day. Heck I forgot to eat 2 meals a day! When my family asked if there was anything they could do, I asked for prepared meals! Hey, they were asking and I was going to take them up on it.

01-08-2009, 07:08 PM
Hey Bethany--

How is Jesse's incision looking? Oops--I just read on another thread that it's doing fine. Great news!

Mary Ellen

01-08-2009, 07:16 PM
Mary Lou,

You didn't upset me at all. :) I didn't take it that way. I think it was more of a realization on my part that I need to focus more on Katelyn and less on me. I know that she is the one who has to go through recovery. I appreciate everyone reminding me to take care of myself also. That is soooo funny what Jamie said in recovery:D I could definately see my Katelyn saying something like that. I am glad you still get on to support others - I hope I can do the same too. It is so much comfort to talk to others who have been there. With all the people who keep asking me why I am putting my daughter through this surgery, I am glad there are those who understand. Thanks for the encouragement:)


01-08-2009, 09:43 PM

I think I will definately have to do something besides just sit. I think I will take my laptop. Thanks for the advice. I will make sure to remember my water and maybe some crackers or something. I will be glad to be on the other side of this. (or did I say that already):D


01-09-2009, 10:02 AM
I don't really have anything to add but I'm glad you started this thread. It's nice to hear others who have BTDT and what was a good idea, etc...

I wouldn't think of it is whining as trying to be prepared and coping. My DD is scheduled for surgery March 9 and I'm basically freaked out now (I was fine until 2009 hit!).

I intend to just take a whole slew of big Find-a-word books with me to pass the time. I don't know if there is internet access there! THAT would definitely be helpful while waiting. :)

I'm going to be solo in the waiting room (which is OK -- I'm prepared for it and almost am thinking I will prefer it that way -- if anyone else is there I'll probably be bawling or something (I cry easily anyway) but if I'm on my own I can distract my mind easier!) -- DH has to work, my parents are taking care of the other 3 kids -- so it will be me. I'm thinking I will *really* be solo in the waiting room as I doubt there are that many surgeries going on at any one time there from the conversations I have had, that is the impression I get.

Good idea with the water. I probably wouldn't have thought of that.

In our case, the estimates are anywhere from 4-6 hours.

01-09-2009, 10:39 AM
Hi Becky,

I hope that by March, I will have a good story of our surgery to share. I am praying for a superstar surgery with no problems. Thanks for your encouragement. I am so glad I haven't had too long to wait. It is really hard riding that rollercoaster of whether to have surgery, what kind, etc. We just found out Dec. 29th about her surgery on Jan. 26 so we haven't had too long too think about that part. This forum is great support. Keep us posted. :)