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Failed lumbar fusion

Spine Health | Last Active: Jun 26, 2023 | Replies (18)

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I had a cyst on my spine 20 years ago and had surgery to remove it. 14 days later I had surgery again to remove a blood clot at the same sit. In July 2022 I had a back fusion surgery when the pain got so bad I could hardly sit or walk. That fusion has failed. I now have four fractured vertebra for the screws used to hold the fusion were too large for me and the screws themselves are pulling out and pressing on my spinal cord. I was told I have to have another surgery,far more extensive where they cut the back and remove the ruined fusion and then cut the front to attach things. It is a two day operation, 16 hours under anesthetic and is scheduled for Jan.17 and 19. recovery is 3 to 6 months. has anyone else done this and how successful was the outcome?

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Replies to "I had a cyst on my spine 20 years ago and had surgery to remove it...."

Hello @bgl1, welcome to Connect. That is an unbelievable story of yours. I'm sorry for all you've been through with your back. You must have mastered the skill of resilience by now because you sure have been through a rough patch, While I have not had back procedures such as yours, and no one has responded yet to your questions, I'd like to introduce you to my fellow Mentor, Jennifer @jenniferhunter. She has back experience and may be a good person to chat with or guide you to others with similar situations.

I have a chronic pain disorder called Central Sensitization Syndrome and was treated at Mayo Pain Rehab Center where many failed back surgery patients also attend in order to help manage chronic pain situations.

Your surgeries are coming up soon and I wish you the best for a positive outcome that will leave you in a better place. Stay strong! You got this.

May I ask where your surgeries will take place?

@bgl I join Rachel in welcoming you to Connect. It sounds like you have a tough road ahead of you and that once you get past this correction, your real recovery can begin.

What helped me a lot before and after my cervical spine surgery is a physical therapist who also does myofascial release which can help break up surgical scar tissue. You can have adhesions in the fascial layers that connect the skin incision scar to the internal surgical site and as that scar tissue forms, it tightens up and can increase pain. For me that started happening a couple months after the surgery, but at that time, my PT wouldn't touch anything until the fusion began to fuse, so I had to live with it until then. When I could get things stretched out again, it really helped.

Here is our discussion about myofascial release in case you are interested in learning about the benefits of this therapy.

- Neuropathy - "Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain"

Do you have issues with bone quality that could have contributed to the failed first surgery? I know that when screws are placed, they also need to be at very precise angles. When surgeons do this in the lumbar spine, or at the lumbar sacral junction, screws attached to the rods can pull out if not at the correct angles because of all the forces exerted at the lower end on the spine. Have your doctors given you some assurance that this won't happen again?

I don't know anyone with a similar experience, but I have heard of a patient having fractures in the spinous processes right after a cervical fusion surgery. I hope your surgery will help get you back to a positive outcome, but I'm sure that will be a long recovery.