Lumbar total disc replacement versus fusion?!

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Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 6/15/2012 6:36 PM (GMT -6)   
I haven't even spoken to the neurosurgeon so I'm not even sure a disc replacement is for me, although from the information I've gathered on it, I hope it is... I'm curious about the CP fam's experience(s) with either of these procedures. My old PM doctor and my new OB/GYN both advised me against a fusion, if possible, and the OB/GYN told me the replacement was probably for me. My friend just had it done on Tuesday (the 12th) and so far has been feeling good, other than pain at her incision.

In my research I've found that people who had a fusion were more likely to need another within four years because of the stress placed on other discs within the back from the lack of flexibility at the fused site. The disc replacement still allows for flexibility. It seems they put metal plates on the bones and polyethylene I between them. The recovery time is very similar but the actual quality of life for the disc replacement patients was seemingly higher as they were able to return to almost, if not all, of their normal activities.

I'm going to keep researching but wanted some CP fam opinions! Thanks in advance!
Kathryn - 22 years old.
Mommy to Baby Scott - May 18th, 2011.

Accidents: Jan. and Oct. 2008, Nov. 2009.
Surgeries: Eye - 1995, Lumbar Laminectomy L4-5 - Feb. 2008, Cesarean Section - May 2011 and Gallbladder Removal - June 2011.
Current Medication: Generic Fentanyl 50 mcg/h patch every 72 hours (feels ineffective after 48), Meloxicam 15mg once a day and Generic Tylenol for breakthrough.

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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16793
   Posted 6/15/2012 7:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Kathryn, I know of a young gal about your age that did the disc replacement. Her problem was the very bottom disc L5/S1 which made her a good candidate. She had her surgery by a dr that helped pioneer the disc replacement surgery. Her recovery was a long one and she said she had a lot of pain afterwards. She said it took her a good 6 months before she could say it was worth having done. I know that certain criteria has to be met, not everyone is a candidate for this surgery. If this something you are interested in, then I would find a dr that specializes in it for a consult.

I am not sure how this would work and am curious if you end up with the same issues of disc blowing above and below do to stress and pressure. A lot of people have fusions and they do last without the need for more surgery. A lot depends on the persons size, weight gain after surgery, type of employment, whether its physical work and how well they take care of their bodies in general. I have noticed that people that have hardware put in at the time of surgery, many of end up in chronic pain. My husbands best friend had a three level back fusion 6-7 months ago and he has done awful and in worse pain that before surgery. His surgeon just told him when he is one yr post op they will go back in and remove the hardware in hopes it will reduce some of the pain. This just seems to be something that happens alot with hardware. He has followed his dr orders to the level from day one. We are hoping once the hardware comes out he will feel better. Just do your homework. Take care...Susie
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