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Foot numbness after Spinal Fusion of L5 S1

From: 1469095651@facebook - on 09/18/2011 12:40pm

My husband is recovering from a spinal fusion of the L5 S1 surgery was done on Sept 8th 2011 and he is experiencing right and left foot numbness up to the calf. Is this normal? He has diabetes and the surgeon has told him that he is experiencing diabetic neurorpathy. He did not have this condition before the surgery. I have asked some friends who have had back surgery and they said it may be the discs still inflamed, and that the nerves need to "settle down". Any recommendations or sugesstions on what to do about his situation?

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on 09/18/2011 4:15pm

Hi Judy,

Based on my experience after having a minimally invasive Transforaminal Lumber Interbody Fusion (TLIF) with hardware at L5/S1 level on 11th July this year, I can confirm that I also had intermittent neuropathic pain following surgery (i.e. behind left knee and slightly down calf).

However, and as one of your friends stated "the nerves need to settle down" is certainly correct. My intermittent post surgery nerve pain dissipated after 6 weeks post op. I have read that some people have experienced neuropathic pain for up to 15 weeks.

Other neuropathic pain stressors such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy will obviously continue until treated otherwise. Although your husband may not have had any foot and calf numbness prior to having surgery, the nerves that were lifted during the surgery procedure could have exacerbated his underlying diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms?

Out of interest, what type of procedure did your husband have? (ALIF; TLIF; or PLIF?).

All the very best to you both and please feel free to ask me any questions.

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on 09/19/2011 9:44pm

Hi, had a l5-s1 fusion march of 2011 and didn't notice the nerve problems reaccuring until I was wearned off alot of the pain meds. I started to notice it then when I wasn't so doped up and they started me back on lyrica which has helped. I did take lyrica after surgery but somehow was stopped for few months. Lyrica does help alot. My surgeon as well as pain management dr said it does take a while for the nerves to calm down and alot depends on if they were conpressed for long period of time. I have been in PT for 5 months and i still have flair ups with my nerves but that have definetely calmed down alot. Be patient only been week or so since surgery, you still have a long haul to go. Good luck to you! any other info you need, just ask

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on 09/28/2011 2:28pm

Hello,

I had my 3rd back surgery recently (September 2nd). My first 2 surgeries were Diskectomies, the 3rd was Anterior Lumbar Fusion, L5-S1. I, too, have calf and leg pain, along with numbness. My Neurosurgeon and his nurse both reassured me it's perfectly normal, and that it's "healing pain." I'm also experiencing Sciatica, which they also said is also normal after a fusion surgery. It's certainly not what I wanted after surgery. But, anytime the nerves are messed with (as during a surgery), it's normal to experience some pain and numbness. It all makes sense, really. As for your husband having Diabetes, I would certainly speak to his doctor about this. I don't have Diabetes, so his situation may be a bit different than those of us who do not have Diabetes. Definitely something to ask his doctor, in my opinion. I hope my feedback helps. Good luck with everything! Patience is KEY to any back surgery! I know that all too well, after having 3 surgeries on my back so far. Be patient! It's tough, I know- but it's KEY!

Darcy~

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on 09/29/2011 2:53am

Hi Darcy,

How are you progressing with your rehabilitation after your spinal surgery? I am now at 11 weeks post surgery after having a Transforaminal Lumber Interbody Fusion (TLIF) with fixtures at L5/S1 level.

I have just returned back to work part time this week. I attend physiotherapy as well as hydrotherapy which appears to be providing some recovery benefit.

As for neuropathic pain, I don't seem to experience any more post surgery nerve pain now. Instead, I get nerve pain from another issue that I have with my neck (I.e. neuroforaminal stenosis C3/4 & C6/7 levels - intense burning pain down both arms).

In the meantime, I would be very interested to hear about your ongoing progress?

Take care & and keep in touch,

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on 10/02/2011 10:53pm

Hi Robert!

It's Sunday evening! I hopped on here real quick, as I saw that you had responded! I'm actually in college, and have to finish an assignment right now! I do online schooling, thank goodness- otherwise I wouldn't be doing it because of my surgery! Anyhow, I have to get this assignment done soon, by midnight! I will get back to you tomorrow! I look forward to talking to you! :)

Darcy~

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on 10/05/2011 4:42am

Hi Darcy,

I honestly don't know how you manage to sit and study when you have just had spinal surgery in September this year? ....how long can you sit for before your pain levels increase?

Looking forward to catching up with you soon. I am now at 12 weeks post -op and feeling great.

Take care & regards,

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on 10/21/2011 1:04pm

I am 29yo and had a multi-level fusion of L4-L5 and L5-S1 in August 2010 and had sever numbness in my left foot after surgery that felt like horrible pins and needles. It has subsided a lot in the past year but I still have numbness in my left foot, especially to the touch. However I will take this numbness over the sciatica pain I had before! My doctors stated the numbness may never go away completely bc of all the maneuvering they had to do with the nerves during surgery and the compression on the nerves before surgery. My numbness doesn't prevent me from doing anything such as sports and working out as I've grown accustomed to it. Hope this helps!

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on 10/22/2011 12:21am

Hi
I had spinal fusion 2 years ago, after surgery I had numbness in my right foot, my surgeon told me that this numbness would take up to two years to go and that I might always have some numbness, a year after surgery numbness hadn't changed so MRI was done, MRI showed l5s1 nerve root neritis (swollen nerve root) I was told that with time this will go, this year new MRI shows that nerve root is smaller and may still take up to two years to heal, as Im now feeling less pain in the back of my leg and hip Im happy to give it two more years to settle down, its important to keep moving as much as possible as this really does help,
I hope this has been some help to you xoxo

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on 10/24/2011 12:05pm

It is still very early after surgery. My spinal fusion was in 2002 and I can remember being concerned about tingling feelings in my lower back and I still to this day have to get up out of a sitting position because after about 15 minutes my right foot and calf starts going numb. But as soon as I get up or stretch that leg it is better. This is something I did not have before surgery. But with my surgery there was a lot of more scary possibilities and side effects. I had a anterior/posterior spinal fusion on L5 S1. With 2 rods, 6 screws, 2 cages and two discs taken out also bone taken from my hip. My spondylilisthesis was a grade 5 and cound only be stabilized. Good luck to your husband.

-Dena

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on 10/31/2011 10:49am

Hi judy,
I had the same surgery L5 S1 sept 27th 2011 , I myself have numbness on my right foot it is from the surgery its still numb but not as bad . doctor told me it should go away . time will tell as it heals. my problem is i been experincing left leg nerve pain and burning sensation, I think it comes from where the bone was graft and i hope it goes away . I was also told that nerves are active due to the surgery and once the back starts healing nerve will calm down. hope your husband is feeling better . its a long recovery .God Bless :)

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on 11/03/2011 12:33pm

I had all kinds of pains/numbness for about 9 months after surgery that I didnt have pre-surgery. The surgery stirs everything up, the nerves the discs the muscles and takes a long time for things to clam down. I would suggest getting in physical therapy as soon as possible after surgery. I just read that exercise and stretching soon after helps keep the nerve ending from connecting to the scar tissue and exercise and stretching soon after help to minimize that. Wish I would have know that !
best of luck!
Denice

2009 -lumbar fusion L4 L5 S1 double discectomy, triple laminectomy fixation of 6 scres 2 rods
now- failed back syndrome

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on 11/03/2011 1:25pm

my fusion was done 2 yrs. ago and my foot pain is getting worse, it gets unbearable, and it is more noticeable after the pain meds were taken away, not for lack of pain, because I had been on them for 2 yrs. so now everyday is hell.......I thought it might be from the injury but pain Dr. said he could not say for sure what is causing the foot pain, also goes up into my legs on bad days..... I was taking nuerontin for this pain but the side effects were worse than the foot pain....

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on 04/02/2012 7:45pm

Hi Everyone;
I had my first of 3 surgeries in jan. 07... my first fusion failed.. the 2nd and 3rd were multi level( l3/l4 l5/s1) The recovery from the last surgery began as a delayed union but is now considered to be an incomplete fusion. A thread like line of bone formed,, but not a complete fill in. After the first surgery I initially had the numbness and tingling and a slight foot drop on my left foot..and still have this condition, which even caused some injuries to my ankle etc.. but lately, In the last couple of months or so, my right foot has begun to tingle out. Today it is tingling and numb, and it travels up my right calf from the top of my right foot... outside perimeter. It's driving me nutz. I see my doctor on friday, but It concerns me. I do not have the answers to why the continued issues.. I keep my weight down, my diet healthy, my activity level up and reasonable. The four rods are big and burley, i am grateful for them, but i am having issues that seem to be progressive. My neuro surgeon has stated that the narrowing of nerves is a probability.. and some issues are to be expected.. I don't know if I prefer the pain or the tingling... anyhow.. I hope you do find relief that is permanent. And when you do, please share! I am always striving to maintain strength and stability, but the added issues are of concern. I do not like the prescription meds, but sometimes you need them. For me, Lyrica has been the most helpful. I use a neuro-muscular stimulator 2x a day.. which also helps manage the pain. Yoga is the bomb diggity.. not just for the movement, but for coping. Anyhow, I have been at this for a few years, and everyday is a new opportunity to find relief. Hang in there, the spine stuff is not for wimps!

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on 04/16/2012 2:55pm

hi judy how are his numbers. Im diabeteck i have some numbness also mine is betr since my spine surgery. my lumbar is all solid 8 screws and 2 rods. they took out a bone also. I hope it gets betr. for him it mite be muscle probs i have some soreness from muscles.

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on 04/16/2012 3:11pm

hello everyone has anyone sneezed yet after surgery. I did and it was painfull and the pain took for ever to go away. I got in my head every time i sneeze it was goin to hurt. musles can do some weird things when they go into the spine and move those muscles takes time to heal. on the patents that had fusions did they get you a bone simulator. second time i seen my surgeon all of mine were fused together. 4months after surgery no brace no back pain. yet.

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on 04/16/2012 5:23pm

Larry, I had my l5-s1 fused March 2011 and the first time I sneezed I thought I was gonna die. To this day, I would prefer sneezing while sitting if I'm standing and I sneeze oooo still painful. I'm having the worst time sleeping. I try with a pillow between my legs but not comfortable. I sleep on my side and twist too much when I do that I wake up in few hours in pain. Can't sleep on my back or stomach, any suggestions from anyone??

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on 04/16/2012 5:52pm

Judy....I'm curious if this was related to a Workmans comp injury? I have found the Workmans comp Drs will do just about anything to get you back to work and blame it on something that isnt related to the surgery they did. I had all kinds of aches and pains in different areas for ...about a year after surgery. It does take a while for everything to calm down from them poking around.
My surgery was in June of 09. I had double discectomy, triple laminectomy with fixation of 6 screws and 2 rods at L4 L5 S1. I still get slight numbness and tingling from time to time. I'll take that over pain any day!
I'm going back to the Drs this week. From the symptoms and research i've done (gotta love the internet!) I think its now the sacroiliac joint. It where the sacrol joint meets with the illiac (pelvic bone)I am having significant groin and hip pain thats gets worse with walking or sitting. Classic symptoms, The joint is over stressed from the fusion. sighhh...hopefully I wont need a fusion.
best of luck and may your hubby be pain free!!

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on 04/16/2012 6:28pm

Good Afternoon.
I had similar surgery on January 26, 2012, only more extensive. After spending four nights in the hospital, I came home and was immediately walking about 10-20 minutes for about a week. I then noticed a slight "burning" or tingling sensation in my right foot, particularly the top. This condition gat rapidly worse to the point where I could not sleep (it seemed to grow worse at night) or even where shoes laced up. I tried soaking with hot water, putting ice on it, etc. Nothing helped. After talking to the doc, I started taking Lyrica, which is medication designed to treart diabetic neuropathy. I can't say this actually helped, It sure didn't seem to. After a couple weeks of this, I talked the doc into doing an MRI to see if there was any visible cause. It seems odd, but the pain began to ease a few days before the MRI, which was clean. Anyway, the good news is , the pain is completely gone. I stopped the Lyrica almost two weeks ago and am not on any meds at all. I know exactly what your husband is going through. For me, nothing I did helped to relieve the pain, it simply went away on it's own. The doc told me pretty much the same thing as you. I have done some research and it appears as though the nerves that were near the surgical point became inflamed and simply need to time to heal. Makes sense to me. Hang in there, it will get better.

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on 04/17/2012 8:08pm

After 7 months it is fair to say the inflammation should be calmed down at this point. While this type of surgery is invasive and inflammation is definitely something to consider in the early recovery stage that is not the problem at hand. Often time patients do not feel they are a candidate for Chiropractic treatments after spinal surgery however this is completely incorrect. An evaluation by a highly skilled Doctor of Chiropractic would be something to consider to determine where the remaining nerve irritation is coming from. Nerve irritation is what is causing the numbness your husband is experiencing. In my office we treat many patients who are post op and get excellent results. Unfortunately numbness following spinal fusion is not uncommon, it is actually very typical. As a spinal specialist, a DC can determine if the nerves are still impinged and adjust above and below the area the was surgically fused in order to relieve some of the remaining nerve pressure that obviously still remains. (A thorough examination and Xrays should be performed to determine the stability of the spine prior to any treatment) Visit my website,http://www.wellmanfamilyhealthcare.com for more detailed information. Hope this helps.

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on 04/21/2012 12:19am

Hi Breadgirl,

I had noticed your comments about not being able to sleep properly due to your post surgery back pain. Despite myself looking through quite a few posts, I have never located someone who presents the same symptom as myself.

My TLIF surgery at L5/S1 level was performed on 11th July, 2011. Although my pain levels are 95% better than pre surgery, I seem to experience back pain mainly from the lumber area which then appears to further extend to the thoracic spine area during and after a night's rest.

May I point out that, I have had this issue since my surgery and furthermore I have been receiving weekly physiotherapy with no affect. Since our spine's decompress whilst in a horizontal position, maybe the decompression adjustment is causing the type of pain that we experience?

Aside from this, I do not have any pain during the day, in fact, my surgery site and entire back feels perfect during periods of walking/sitting at work.

Like yourself, I also try to rotate my slepping position to gain some relief, but, this does not seem to help. My bed matress is of good quality and I also have a memory foam pillow which I don't believe are contributing to my back pain. Coughing is terrible as it transfers straight to my lower back!

I am scheduled to see my neurosurgeon in mid July this year for my 1 year post-op review. During this review, and following a CT scan which will be undertaken earlier on the same day, a determination will then be made on the actual progress and integrity of my bone fusion. I will also discuss my issue with being uncomfortable during the night and waking up in pain every morning.

Sometimes, I notice I also experience brief deep lower back pain at night during transitional movements such as after laying horizontally on the lounge and then standing up...ouch!!

I don't know what solutions there are which identify this problem? Do you think our night/moring back pain symptoms will improve once the lumber vertebral bones fuse together? Any thoughts??

PS: Given that we seem to have the same problem, I would certainly like to keep in touch with you.

Robert.

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on 04/25/2012 7:21am

My surgery was March 5, 2012. I have gone back to work, drive, shop, and many other activities that I was in too much pain to do before surgery. I am frustrated because I still needs meds, but after reading the previous post, I am extremely pleased with my recovery. My left foot was painfully spasmed, my left hip hurt too badly to sleep well. I am just getting back to sleeping better and like Robert, turning over can bring me awake. I still cannot sleep in my "normal" bed, I guess it is too soft. I was released from therapy last week. Coughing and sneezing brings tears to my eyes and sometimes I forget and twist wrong. Thanks for the tip on sitting first!

Reading all your posts has helped me immensely. I have MS and was born with CP. I thought this was inhibiting my recovery time. Now I see that I am doing fine!

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on 06/14/2012 1:24am

I had a spinal fusion on my L5 S1 and i experience numbness, and i do not have diabetes. This is normally because all the nerves near the spine have been ripped from surgery, it takes a while for all your nerves to settle down, Good Luck!

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on 08/09/2012 5:02am

As you can see by the hour, this foot numbness is keeping me up and driving me crazy. I'm 5 weeks post 2 level lumbar fusion. I've been told it takes time for the nerves to settle down as well, but who would've thought that the biggest indicator of how I'm feeling (to family and friends) is how my foot is doing? Work keeps wanting to know when I think I'll be released to modified duty (one supv actually told me today maybe I'd want to use the recovery time to do some annual testing we do online!) and I want to weep as I am barely caring for myself. I feel bad so much of everything has fallen to my husband and our tween really hasn't had any summer. I'm so sorry for this middle of the night rant, but it's so frustrating. The irony: I was a claims adjuster nearly my entire career. While I was quite empathetic, I had NO idea the recovery would be like this. Thanks for listening.

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on 08/09/2012 9:53am

Hi Sue,
I had funsion L4 L5 S1 in 2009. It does take a good long while till everything calms down. It wasn't till 6 months post op that my Dr considered me MMI (maximum medical improvement).
My injury was workmans comp related and ready or not they want you and the Dr they sent you to gert you back to work asap. I never was without pain post surgury. I'm still on 3 pain meds. Everyone is so different in what was done during surgery and what led to the problem in the first place. I found it very helpfull to keep a symptom journal. That way when I went to the Dr for post op checks I wouldnt forget anything. Mention EVERYTHING that you are feeling to your Dr even though you may think its nothing...or not that bad. Some little thing you might say may be the clue for him to pin point your at the moment issues.
good luck!!!....Denice

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on 08/09/2012 5:34pm

hi judy I had surgery last nov i have to get up and move I whirlpool since i hav had surgery my bottom gets numb i probs with my feet also. I wear socks at home all the time that helps my feet if he can do some walking or even hot showers help me hope it helps him my lower lumbar is fused rods and screws do any of you wear a radio wave belt that helps your fusion grow just curious. ps i have diabetes also i do the insulin i take shots. the metforman i was taking shut my kidneys down and my heart and lungs spent time in hosp o ver that

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on 08/10/2012 12:25pm

I was told by the Dr that I no longer needed pain meds. It has been 4 months and while I am doing well I still have some pain. At night, I have much pain turning over. I also have problems doing laundry and picking stuff up off the floor. My doctor says there should be no pain, huh. What do you guys say?

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on 08/11/2012 7:36pm

hi dawn your dr doesnt no how you feel. i stop taking pain pills 30 days after my surgery. I just have some tingling and muscle pain . when i walk it goes away. I also whirlpool everyday that helps also. did you have a fusion if so are you wearing a radio wave belt >? are you still weaing a brace? any way good luck and hope you heal fast >Im at 9months now.

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on 08/12/2012 1:30pm

I'm 3 years out from surgery and still take 3 different pain meds every day. But I also had a fusion of L4 L5 S1 with double discectomy, triple laminectomy with 6 screws and two rods. Every one, and every surgery is so different. Only you know how you feel ! Its common to have pain in sacral illiac joint area after a lumbar fusion. My sacral iliac (pelvic joint) was out for so long....it threw my leg height off which made my hip ball joint wear incorrectly and i am now looking at a hip resurfacing/or replacement! Dont let the Doctors blow your pain off....only you know how you feel and what you are willing to live with!
best to you...Denice

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on 08/28/2012 12:36pm

I had spinal fusion L5S1 i have 2screws. My surgery was done in 2007..i too can not sleep on my back or stomach. I have mild pain unless I do an activity like weeding. And any sort of bending then it really hurts. I have had numbness in my left leg from knee down since surgery. I still get days where i have sciatic pain..as of recently i have been experiencing pain in my left calf. It feels like the muscles are very tight aand i try to stretch my calf however it does not help at all. 2 years ago i was told I have bone spurs in that area now.. my discs were pinching the nerve prior to surgey and has most likely cause spinal cord damage.my primary care doctor has given me relafin which is anti inflamatory which helps. I too still take pain meds but only when its bad...or more painful than normal.

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on 03/14/2013 10:40am

Hello all.........

I have had/still have many of the same problems as most of you. I injured my back 5/26/04 and was put on bed rest until work comp would approve surgery, on 9/14/04 my neurosurgeon did a discectomy/laminectomy at L5-S1 without the approval because he wanted to try to avoid permanent nerve damage to my sciatic nerves (YEP.......BOTH SIDES). Sadly, not only did I have no relief at all I gradually got worse over the years. in January 2010 my left leg from the knee down on the outside went completely numb. I had been in the process of fighting work comp yet again for a fusion to my L5-S1. I finally won the fight after 3 1/2 years!! I learned why alot of people give up and decide not to fight work comp anymore, but as hard headed as I am and wanting some kind of relief and normalcy to my life, I fought!!

My fusion was done 4/24/12. I am almost 10 months post op and while my spine itself feels 100% better, the nerve pain and numbness continue. I was hoping to be off all pain meds by now, but that hasnt happened. The said that the nerves need to heal, but if the pain or numbness are not improved by 6-12 months post-op, it likely never will. I feel like I am sitting and watching a clock...........

My pain specialist has tried different medications for relief and we are back where we started. I am currently on Oxycodone 10mg 8xday, Gabapentin 600mg 5xday, Flexeril 10mg 2xday, and Arthrotec 75mg 2xday........I hate pills!!! I dont feel like they are helping much seeing that with my rather high pain tolerance I am still at a 6 average on the pain scale, but I got stuck out of town for a few days when my car broke down and after a day without my meds I couldnt walk........so I guess they are working. I had to have my boyfriend Greyhound it to where I was so I could get my meds and he could drive my car home. It took a week to recover from the 3 days without my meds.

My neurosurgeon and pain specialist both say it takes up to a year for the nerves to calm down and/or regenerate, any longer than that could be permanent. I am holding out hope, but I had both sciatic nerves crushed for about 6 years.

Judy.......I hope your husband is doing much better by now. All I can say is communication with your doctor(s) is key. If someone acts like it is no big deal and brushes it off, find someone else. I dont know how many doctors I went thru, being told it was all in my head, until I found my pain specialist 6 years ago, and he has been wonderful! Good luck to you, and again, I hope your husband is much better!!

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