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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Hello Everyone, I thought I would give you an update of how things are with me nearly two years to the day post op. I had a CT scan in November with a view to seeing how the fusion was going. The sad news is that the fusion has not taken place. Neither the facet joints nor the lumbar vertebrae L5-S1 have fused. This is very sad because the only thing that is holding my spine together now at that level is the ironmongery, one facet screw, and one cracked screw. My surgeon says that my options are to consider removing the facet screws, and inserting pedicle screws. This would allow another opportunity for fusing L5-S1. At the same time he could remove any scar tissue and “un-tether” the root nerve that is causing the continued numbness and tingling down my leg. Apparently the application of a gel can prevent the nerve getting tethered again.
He said there would be little merit in waiting more than another six months if my condition had not improved. I am reluctant to consider further surgery, considering all the risks, and I will definitely seek second and third opinions. I could live with the way I am now, it is just so far from the recovery I had hoped for, and I would need some kind of assurance that there was a significant chance of achieving a favourable outcome.
I doubt very much that Celebrex was the culprit. It is the one drug that can be taken after fusion as it has a slightly different chemical make-up from NSAIDs. For whatever reason, sometimes the fusion just doesn't take and bone does not grow, or grow in the right places.

I would agree with your assessment that you should gather another opinion or two just to be sure that there is a consensus on what is wrong and how to proceed to remedy the problem. Revision surgeries can be complicated, but you won't know until you talk to a couple surgeons. Don't be discouraged if some refuse to touch you. That is par for the course. Many surgeons do not want to take on someone who has had spine surgeon with another doctor.

I recently underwent a revision from L3 to S1. I was originally fused at L4-5. The revision included removing the original pedicle screws as they were not compatible with the new screws...adding more screws and linking the whole thing together with two longer rods. My surgeon also had to reconstruct the segment at L3-4 as the facet joints were ground down to little nubs. Recovery from this was easier than recovery from my first, one-level fusion and I now am pain-free for the first time in almost six years.

Deciding to have a second surgery is a tough decision because there are no guarantees that things will turn out better. After collecting whatever data you can, only you can decide if the gamble is worth it.

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