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Posted in: Back pain, Chronic pain, and Surgery.

Failed fusion

From: cool35 - on 11/01/2010 1:47am

Hi, I had a 360 fusion at L5/S1 with hardware, cages, screws, etc. Well they are saying it isn't fused, a screw is loose and I need another fusion. My new Dr informed me he is more worried about my spine being unstable than the pain. He told me the new fusion would have an 80% chance of fusing, a 1 in 2000 chance I could have more pain and also a chance I could become impotent cause he needs to go in through the front. Other Dr never told me any of that. Just want to say that after the first fusion my pain got way worse. He will not have to go in through the back this time. Last time they did both the front and back. He just needs to replace the cage. It was such a painful ordeal last time that I'm scared to get it done again. Does anybody think I should do it? There is only one pro and several cons! Dr said if the hardware breaks that I'll really be in trouble. I just don't know what to believe anymore. I have lost total faith in the medical system and think Dr's are just business men! Two doctors say it isn't fused but 2 previous doctors (the ones that did the surgery) say it is.

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on 11/02/2010 8:00am

Either it is fused or it isn't and that can be clearly ready on your x-ray/MRI, I have had 4 neck surgeries where they went in from the front. The kast one was a yr. ago. My NS said one of the areas fused and one didn't. They used cadaver bone for me.

You don't want to mess around with a loose screw. Any time you're dealing with the back you want to make sure that your spinal cord isn't compressed. Is there a good teaching hospital near you? Typically they are tops and in on all of the updated ways. Please find someone you can have faith in and go for help..

I wish you the best.

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on 11/03/2010 12:10pm

Thanks for the info. I am in a lot of pain but it is mostly in the lower back. Sometimes the bottoms of my feet hurt like they are bruised or burning. Sometimes it radiates to a leg but mostly my bottom. I don't know what a teaching hospital is but will look them up. I am confined to workers comp and lets face it, they don't have my best interest in mind. The doctors that did my surgery never showed me the x-ray/MRI results and just went by the paper. The 2 second opinions I got showed me point blank that I had a loose screw and it wasn't fused. They also told me I needed a CT scan to see if it is fused and that MRI's aren't good for that. They said the x-ray is all right in showing a fusion but really need a CT scan. I got the CT scan and the report said it was fused. However, when my new surgeon looked over the films, he said he just sees crushed plastic, a loose screw and no fusion. He also said there is a hologram around one screw indicating it is loose and that a loose screw usually means no fusion. I am scheduled to get a fusion in January. I see him today and I'm gonna ask to see the CT scan to see exactly where it isn't fused. Thanks for your reply.

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on 11/03/2010 6:50pm

hi cool 35
i would believe the second opinion you received. the first set of drs may be trying to mask some error they made. but to be sure do what the second poster recommended. i agree with him....pete

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on 11/04/2010 3:01am

I found a lot of different teaching hospitals in my area. Where do I go from here? I went to different hospital sites and really didn't find much.

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on 11/04/2010 4:49am

i would call the secretary of the neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery dept and explain to her the fact you have had 360 fusion and want 2nd opinion on relieving your pain......pete

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on 11/11/2010 2:09am

k thanks Pete

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on 11/11/2010 8:46am

Wow if there is a screw loose that needs to be adressed ASAP.. I know the fusions werent succesful the 1st time but was it done Microinvasive through a endoscope which is performed through 2 one inch incisions where the hardware is inserted and hospital stay is usually one day or less just for monitoring. This way the muscles arent stripped from the spine with less tissue retraction.. Bone removal, discketomy, interbody fusion and hardware are all done through the 1 inch incisons.. I dont know where you live but if a sports team ie: NFL, MLB is close look into their doctors that performs their surgeries.. Usually heal time is 3 weeks or so to return to normal activites unless thats lifting alot of weight then of course its longer.. Their is a 90-95% sucess rate they say b/c is so invasive and less trauma to the spine.. Look into it, Maybe it will help you

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on 12/03/2010 2:25pm

My surgery was done all with cutting me open. Long scar on my back and about 4 inch scar on the front. They cut through all the muscle. The problem I have is workers comp won't cover those types of surgeries. I live in the Los Angeles area so you would think they would have some of the latest and greatest stuff. Only I'm constantly messed with by workers comp. Ironically they approved another fusion but not a bone growth stimulator. You think they would go with the cheaper option first. I tried cedar Sinai but they don't take workers comp. They seemed like my best option too.

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on 12/03/2010 3:01pm

bone growth stimulators have been proven to aid fusion. i had one for my fusion. the surgeon should write a letter to the insurance co and give reasons for its need. do you have a lawyer for this case? it sounds like you really need one. most workmens comp cases necessitate a lawyer because the insurance companies just screw you around....pete

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on 12/09/2010 1:10am

I have an attorney and my case was settled over a year ago. I have future medical. Decided to go with that option. I know how they like to screw people around! They denied me a bone growth stimulator and approved another fusion!!! I did have a bone growth stimulator after the first fusion in May of 2008 but I guess it didn't help. I'm having a phone consult with my attorney on December 20. I think she wants to re open the case. I also want to see a neurosurgeon from cedar sinai and that's what I'm gonna tell her. I need a third opinion. Plus they have a really good rep on all the doctors they use. I looked them all up. The one that did my fusion only got 3 out of 5 stars rating and so did the one I'm seeing now. They are both orthopedic and I hear neurosurgeons are better. So I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed. Thanks.

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on 12/09/2010 7:48am

Whatever you do, don't go see Seth Weingarten at Cedars Sinai. He messed my surgery up years ago, and I wouldn't trust him to remove a wart!!!

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on 12/15/2010 12:34pm

Thanks Pam

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on 04/16/2011 10:03pm

Ok guys, I am not fused and there is a loose screw. CT scan and x-rays both showed it. Workers comp finally approved me to go to Cedars Sinai. I just got digital new x-rays and a current MRI a few weeks ago. Still waiting to hear about that. The neurosurgeon I'm seeing seems really smart and said I could get the surgery or try more epidurals. I explained the epidurals are useless and asked what he would do for the surgery. He said all he would do is go in through the back, add more BMP and put in some bigger screws. He is my 3rd opinion. My 2nd opinion doctor (who is an orthopedic surgeon) said he would go in through the front, remove the front plate, remove all the stuff in between my vertebrae and use a different type of bone substance since BMP didn't work.

My neurosurgeon said that it is not that cut and dry. He also said he would never go in through the front on me again due to all the problems that can go wrong. Besides the loose screw is in the back part of the hardware. I'm sure he is gonna have to cut me open down the back again to do it. Would be nice if he could do it invasively. I will see if he can. What do you guys think? In all honesty, I really don't want another surgery and I have been way worse than before the surgery. No guarantees this will even help the pain, heck it still might not even fuse!

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on 04/17/2011 5:22am

time for a third opinion...

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on 04/17/2011 1:06pm

Pete,
Why do you say that? Do you think my new neurosurgeon is another moron? I wouldn't even know where to go get another opinion. This is exhausting, not to mention I'm tapering off Valium. That in itself is agony. It is the last of the medicines they have given me. I just don't want to be on medication anymore. Every pill they give me just stops working and then I'm addicted to it or they give me pills that do nothing or just make me sick. I'm very prone to side effects for some reason and they never go away.

My pain is manageable. I can handle it but it is always there. I guess what I really want is my old life back. I want to surf, skateboard, workout, play sports, etc. I was an adrenaline junkie. I also want to go back to my old job again of being a truck driver. I miss all those things so much! I guess I just have to accept it will never get any better and my old life is finished. I can't even go on a half mile walk without my feet feeling like they are on fire and my back hurting. This will go on for about 3 days after the walk. Maybe I just need a good shrink.

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