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My neurosurgeon and pain doctor recommend a diskectomy and bone fusion for a very grumpy, still-not-successfully-treated disc (t6-7). They've been wrong multiple times before about why there's pain. Has anyone had a discogram to confirm the source of their pain prior to surgery? Would you recommend requesting this? I think it would make me more confident that surgery would be hitting the correct nail on the head. Thoughts? Opinions? Thanks! - sunny in San Diego
I had the disco gram to ensure that the pain was indeed originated by the L4 and L5/S1 discs as my Dr had suspected. 3 levels were tested and 2 were determined to be the source. The test is painful for sure, but I guess a lot of Drs want to be as thorough as possible before proceeding with surgery. I pray that I wont ever have another one. I am 44 years old, but the test brought me to tears I am ashamed to say. Thank God that for whatever they gave me prior to the test to relax me. Cant imagine what it would have been like without it. Good luck with your test and hopefully they determine the source of your pain.

Porter
PS. GO BRONCOS!
I was always inder the impression that I would need a discogram prior to any back surgery. I had surgery on Oct 25th for my T6-T7 herniation...I had a fusion, and my doctor told me that the discogram would be unnecessary torture for this area of herniation. Instead he said that he would NOT do the surgery unless he had a definitive Complete Spinal MRI to confirm level. Which was smart b/c the 1st MRI was wrong...they misread the levels b/c it was [U]only [/U]a thoracic MRI...they had it at T5-T6 on the 1st incorrect MRI.

I had classic thoracic hernation symptoms....mid back pain, rib pain, and chest pain. You?

A discogram will show how big the herniation is, as well as confirm origin of pain.... I had a discectomy with the fusion, and the MD did not do the discogram. However its usually a must to get a complete spinal MRI before any procedure in the thoracic area...b.c thats the #1 area to be leveled incorrectly by the MRI's.



FYI... I had a discogram for my lumbar herniation prior to that area of surgery. It does hurt alot but worth it. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the info. Yep, I have the classic symptoms: mid-back, rib, and chest pain. It's been a stumbling road to figure out what really is the source of the pain. It's been determined that the pain source is the degenerating, bulging disc itself. After going through some expensive and ineffective treatments (injections, RFA, etc.) I wanted to consider the discogram so I don't have an inappropriate surgery.

How did your surgery go? It sounds like I'm being recommended for the same thing. This will be a microscopic discectomy and bone fusion. Small incision just to the side of midline. How was your recovery? and relief from pain?

Thanks for the info. It really helps to hear from people who've been on the receiving end of these treatments doctors like to dole out... :)
I see our doctors are going in totally different directions...as long as it works though, right?

I say that b/c I had a thoracotomy done....they made a 6 inch incision, took out a rib, went thru the lung after decompression, and fused the T6-T7 level together with my rib bone and some screws. Upon initial recovery, the rib pain, chest tube (from the lung) were the worst of the pain. Being that you are having a micro done, I think you will skip out on the lung/chest tube pain.....which will make your recovery sooo much less painful. I mean the incision hurt, as did the fusion site -like a really bad soreness, BUt that was nothing compared to that chest tube and rib pain. The soreness pain lasted about a good 5 weeks, but much less after a week postop ;)

The initial herniation pain...chest, rib and mid back- seem to be disappeared. However, it is too soon to tell. I am still in my brace that I will have had on for 3 months as of Jan 26th. The pain does not seem to be there, but the rib and fusion site still bother me quite a bit, so its too soon to tell.

Its a rare place for a herniation. How did you get yours? I slipped and fell just the wrong way on ice. AND YES the diagnosis/ failed treatment period lasted too long...since Feb 06. Now I am having trouble with disability due to that extended period. How long has your been?

Nothing bad about extra diagnosis tests like Discograms. Just make sure when they count the discs to know the level , they start with the cervical-meaning, a complete MRI. Like I said, they had mine a whole level wrong when they only did thoracic MRI's.
Hi chatterboxsd,
I understand you live in San Diego. I live in Los Angeles.
who did you see for your thoracic disc? I T5-6 disc bulging, which being going on for 5 years. I had MRI done last week. Still the same measurement as last year despite all the treatment i got (yoga, swimming, physical therapy and so).
have you ask your doctor if you could have laser ?
are you planning to have a surgery through chest ?
how bad is your disc? Mind is 3-4 mm.
have you done injection?

Thanks
Hi, Babs. Thanks for the detailed report - I wish you the best in your recovery! I'd think it's a good sign that the pain you have is soreness, but not horrible pain where they did the fusion.

I injured myself playing rugby 12 years ago - in college and not concerned about life in my mid-30's at all! It has been annoying off and on, then progressed in the last 6 months to quite unbearable.

The recommended surgery will be small in incision, but I think there will still be a chest tube - they still have to deflate a lung. That freaks me out, but I guess that's what anesthesia is for, eh?

Please stay in touch with how your recovery goes.
Hi, Juneroy.

I'm now with Dr. William Taylor at UCSD. I saw Dr. Marshall, the Chief of Neurosurgery at UCSD first and he immediately handed me off to Taylor as he is apparently the "expert" in this type of surgery. There is apparently a dr. at Cedars who does this same surgery. I'll give you his name when I find it. Taylor trained with him.

This type of surgery Dr. Taylor recommends is minimally invasive in that the incision is small, but the action is big! Discectomy and bone fusion. Taylor seemed to think "laser" is an undefined term for this procedure.

are you planning to have a surgery through chest ? - no, the incision will be just right of my spine, the side of the bulging disc. It's about 2-3 inches. I think they still have to collapse a lung to visualize as much as they can with such small working quarters.

how bad is your disc? Mind is 3-4 mm. - I don't really know. Everyone who looks at the MRI has a strong reaction - T6-7 is totally black with a bulge while the others are white in the center. Not sure what that means, but I think it's not a healthy disc.

have you done injection? - yes and RFA. And water PT, land PT, chiropractic, lots of yoga, walking, acupuncture, and the occasional beer. Nothing's worked yet.

Let's stay in touch.
HI, chatterboxsd

Thank You for responding to my questions. I'm scheduled to see this doctor at Cedars Sinia by name of " J Patrick Johnson ". I hope he is the one that you are talking about. Let me know if I got the right doctor, please. May be Dr. John Regan???
By any chance do you happen to know what is the name of the surgery you are about to have. As far as I know there is one way, where they make an incision through your side of body while clasping one of the lung. They call this (Video-Assisted Thoracic Spine Surgery).
Have you ever find out if you are candidate for laser ?
I know a guy in this thread, that he said he will have a surgery this past month. I haven't heard anything from him, yet. I hope everything went well. waiting to hear from him.

Thanks
Yes - it's Dr. Johnson. He trained with my dr. here in SD. I'm having the same surgery you're referencing next week on 1/24. I sought out quite a few opinions from people who are not surgeons to see if they agreed with the recommendation. I hope your course of treatment (whatever it may be) goes well. I'll let you know how I do, too.

Best wishes - really!





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