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Can minimally invasive techniques work with a truly degenerated spine?

Started by fsgregs on 07/22/2012 8:20pm

Hi. I'm new to the forum. I am a 64 yr old male who has inherited some type of genetic disorder that is disintegrating my spine. I have disk herniations from my cervical to my lumbar spine, virtually in every vertebra. I have stenosis, multiple bone spurs, and a 26 degree scoliosis curvature in my lumbar spine alone, from L1 to L5. I even have a congenital 6th lumbar vertebra, crowding my back.

Until recently, I had some mild back pain I could live with, but now, things have hit the fan. I now have some significant sciatica in one leg, probably coming from L4-L5, and spine surgeons I have visited have said I need surgery now. Given the extent of my problems, they are recommending major surgery and multiple vertebra fusion.

I've heard a lot about minimally invasive surgery being able to do almost anything a full slice surgery can do, and one surgeon I spoke to said I could get MIS to free up my sciatica, but I would like to find out if MIS could be used for multiple vertebra in a degenerated back like mine. For example, could I get a MIS lumbar discectomy and interbody fusion on L5, L4 and perhaps L3, either at once, or on different visits? I would really like to avoid getting my back sliced up with big incisions that take 6 months to heal.

Has anyone heard of multiple vertebra minimally invasive surgeries being done? Thanks in advance

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1 Response


HI there,
i am so sorry you are going through this. I have had arthritis, stenosis, spondylolisthesis and scoliosis T10-L5/S1 which has progressed over the past 15 years or so until I was told I needed surgery.

First off, let me say that I found an adult scoliosis spine specialist whom I trust completely. This took some doing, i saw about 6 providers on the way to her. She helped me avoid surgery as long as i could utilizing injections, acupuncture, massage therapy, PT. Once i did find her i still got 2nd opinions, one who said they could do XLIF and ALIF to correct my spine. I asked my doctor about it and she said that she did those procedures often when indicated, but that she honestly did not believe that I would get as good of a correction. she also said, anyone can tell you that and once they open you up realize that its not the best course of action. I decided to trust her.

I had my spinal fusion on april 3 and the first month was hell. I am happy to say that since then i have been progressing rapidly which includes walking up to 10 miles as of today, spin cycling, elliptical and gym workout supervised by my physical therapist. I am pain free (yes pain free) for the 1st time in maybe 20years.

Find a physician who you TRUST and who has an excellent reputation among other surgeons.
I wish you the best and a pain free future.