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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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Hi Linda. I don't know all of the details of your husband's situation, but I think what he needs is a CT scan. An MRI mainly shows soft tissue issues, but the CT will show whether the bone has grown together or not. My doctor suspected I had a failed fusion and the CT confirmed it. It was very easy to see on the CT. Xrays can show this somewhat, but the picture just shows a 2-dimensional picture, which can obscure the area between the vertebrae. A CT gives a 3-dimensional picture. The doctor can scroll through the whole depth of the vertebrae and see if there are any parts that are fused or if there is no bone there at all.

Anyway, my plate appeared to be relatively tight, but I am having surgery on Monday anyway because I am still having some movement and it is causing me intense pain. My surgeon told me that every time he has re-done a fusion from the back, the patient ends up fusing in the front, too.

Some people are very unstable with a failed fusion and need surgery right away. I was told if the plate is tight that it is less of an issue. Nonetheless, if he is having a lot of pain from it, I would seriously consider surgery. No one should live in that much pain if it can be fixed.

Oh, and my doctor waited until the 15-month mark to do the CT to give the bone enough of a chance to fuse. He said that if it is not fused by that point, then it is unlikely to happen. Interestingly enough, my original surgeon said my early x-rays looked good too, but I guess it ultimately still didn't matter.

Good luck

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