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Reversing spinal fusion surgery
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Reversing spinal fusion surgery

3824763?1230776507
Has anyone had spinal fusion surgery removed, Or is there anyone that has a spinal brace fitted or anyone contemplating having back surgery like to swap notes or just encourage one another.
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21 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello! I came across your post and wanted to respond. Have you made any progress with your quest? I would LOVE to have my spinal fusion surgery reversed, but being that I am fused from T3 to L2, I don't even know if it's feasible. I am here if you need to chat.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi cynnabear,  May I ask why you would want to reverse your fusion?  I need one for L5-L4. I really don't want to do it tho.

Thank you for any insights you care to share!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there!  just wondering why you would undo a fusion. It provides long term stability. It can cause pain, like feeling the screws even though they say you can't. I say if it's good leave  it be. You can walk etc. right?  chat back.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi.  I can see why you'd want it reversed.  Having had a lumbar fusion and a partial revision 2 years later, I'm rarely more than just comfortable.  Yes, I can walk, but don't like to.  I can't exercise without elevating my pain levels.  I take a total of 60 - 80 mg. of Vicodin every day.

As I understand fusions, the surgery has in effect removed our "sick" vertebrae and make the spine rigid.  In short, we don't bend anymore except where normal vertebrae still exist.  So how on earth would they undo a fusion?  They can't put the vertebrae back.

Good luck!

trebor73
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi trebor, just read your post, your understanding of fusion is partially correct, undoing a fusion is called a revision & this is done when metal work is used alongside bone to make a stronger fusion,so if there is no metal your correct they can't undo a fusion. I had mine done in 96 L5/S1 i had spondolithesis, over 50% slip have had continuous pain ever since but the pain was better than it was before  the op, now pain is getting worse & my consultant is telling me to think about having a revision, check it out on the web and make a decision, as yet i have had no such luck in finding out if anyone has had this done after so long, i'm 5'2 in height not over weight, they can't see what's happening because of the metalwork, any thought gratefully received.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I had spinal fusion on L5/S1 in 2007.  Now the surgeon like to have the fusion removed and re-do another fusion.  Reason is that the fusion has now overgrown and protruding out, completely compressing and covering the exiting nerves that goes down the left leg.  I had 4 more surgeries after that fusion, mainly decompression and shaving the protrution.  However, it keeps growing, and now he suspects its the BMP that was put in the cage during the 2007 fusion is the cultprit.  Now he likes to remove the entire 'fusion', along with the cage and bmp, and re-fuse without using this route.  I already have my instruments removed, and also went through a spinal infection, that almost killed me.  Frankly, I'm scared to death on the word 'surgery'.  If I don't do the surgery, I will be looking at a wheelchair for life.  If I do the surgery, I may risk another infection.  Also because I had infection before, he cannot apply new instruments.  My spine broke at L5/S1, so without instruments, and with the fusion removed, I don't know how the spine will hold.  Probably wearing a brace for 2 years?  This is a major surgery and cannot be done minimally invasive.  Right now, I'm spacy with this situation.
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Avatar_m_tn
I HAD C-4 & 5 fused 6 years ago . this was done with 4 screws and a titanium bridge . It was done in Dallas by one of the "best " spinal doctors in town . I have never been pain free . within a year He was telling Me " in a small number of cases there is failure on the level below . we need to fuse this one as well".I Have not done it and I live with limited feeling ( which escalates at night to a hot burning sensation )in my left hand and arm and constant piercing pain in my neck . i am now so disillusioned at these doctors that I do not know what to do . I think i would like to remove the earlier fusion and  and just revert to cleaning up bone spurs and trimming the vertebrae enough to give the nerves some space . Does anyone know if this can be done ? Can they take out this metal ?
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Avatar_m_tn
I had a lumbar fusion done three years ago by a "world renowned" neurosurgeon. It failed miserably, crushing six foramen and my spinal cord in three places, all to the size of a pencil lead. I knew when I woke up from surgery that something was horribly, horribly wrong.  The doctor told me that I just needed to toughen up and that surgery was painful.  Three months later I got re-diagnosed and found out the awful truth, that I had been put into crippling pain by an "expert". I since have had nine more surgeries to correct the problem by another surgeon. He explained to me that just as with wood, when you run a screw into bone, the bone will stretch out of the way.  The problem with spine surgery is that the bone has nowhere to go but to press against nerve roots. What is more is that the fusion mass will never stop growing.  My corrective surgeries were minimally invasive procedures to open nerve canals and to cauterize herniated discs.  They have taken me from being bed-ridden and going to the bathroom in a bucket in bed to walking with a cane.  It's the best I can hope for with the damage done to my spine, but I'm very pleased with the results.  There are very few doctors who do this sort of relief surgery for failed fusions, most of them are in Europe.  The physician who does my surgeries is very good at what he does and has 14 patents on procedural equipment.  He hates fusions and calls them a barbaric practice in butchery. I am inclined to agree with him. His name is Alfredo Bonati and his website is bonati.com.  He doesn't reverse fusions, but he does free up nerve roots and minimise fusion mass so that you can have more mobility and some pain relief as long as you realize your limits.  Oh, avoid the Laser Spine Institute of Tampa.  They caused me worse damage. Good luck to you all.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for the information on Bonati. I will definitely check it out.  

I have had two back surgeries. First one was a Lumbar Laminectomy which didn't work (2008) then a Lumbar Spinal Fusion L4, L5, S1 (2009). And today I am still in pain, with nerve damage and I walk with a cane.

I came on here looking to see if there was a way to reverse the fusion but it looks like its not so.  

I am only in my early 40's, I shouldn't be like this.  I know there are people of many ages that are going thru the same as me.  

One thing though about the surgery; I don't have the type of pain I had before.  The pain was much worse than it is today and at least I can walk better.  But getting on the correct meds is driving me mad.

Have a great day everyone and I will try to do the same.  ;-)
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Avatar_f_tn
They fused 16 of my vertabrae back in 07. There are 4 titanium bars along with about 60 screws. But, I want this reversed because I would like to join the armed forces. Is there anything I can do about this?
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Avatar_m_tn
My name is Trevor Milmine,I am 32 years old,I had a posterior fusion done at L5-S1 about four months ago, due to injuring the facets at the  bottom of my back L5-S1 squating in the gym believe it or not .Defenetely wish I would have had and a artificial facet system put in instead.Fusion just is'nt natural.I recommend to anyone out there do everything you can to get a artificial disc replacement,artificial facet replacement,what ever it takes to preserve motion.and don't take no from your Doctor, just because hes a Doctor,its our spine.And spines are made to move not stick.I hope someday spinal fusions are just a remember when.
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Avatar_m_tn
My name is Trevor Milmine,I am 32 years old,I had a posterior fusion done at L5-S1 about four months ago, due to injuring the facets at the  bottom of my back L5-S1 squating in the gym believe it or not .Defenetely wish I would have had and a artificial facet system put in instead.Fusion just is'nt natural.I recommend to anyone out there do everything you can to get a artificial disc replacement,artificial facet replacement,what ever it takes to preserve motion.and don't take no from your Doctor, just because hes a Doctor,its our spine.And spines are made to move not stick.I hope someday spinal fusions are just a remember when.
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Avatar_m_tn
http://www.drkennethlight.com/main/contact_info

Kenneth Light is a physician in SF, California - he performed a new surgery on a woman with a cervical fusion and literally reversed it - apparently this is more common in Europe.  So maybe this will be a possibility one day!?

I had a scoliosis fusion at 17 year old (female) - I am now 27.  All has gone relatively well for me, except I've come to really miss the movement in my spine. But - I really feel this surgery was the wrong choice, due to lack of information about other options (yoga, nutrition - most people dont know there is a strong link between nutrition and bone problems - exercise, etc - though even so I was relatively healthy and active as a kid).  I gave up a lot of activities I loved because of this surgery, though I have plenty of other ones that I enjoy now.

Ten years after surgery I'm beginning to wonder what my future will look like, and knowing how many people are experiencing pain in their later lives.  Over the past couple of years I've begun to have a lot more standing pain (mostly in my lower back) - at this point it is mostly aggravating tension rather than full on pain, but I do feel fairly constant tension + stiffness throughout my entire back, neck, and shoulders.  As a kid I rarely had any pain except near right scapula.  I can sort of feel that my back muscles need to stretch, and being unable to stretch them properly is weirdly excruciating - like an itch that can't be scratched or something.

I'd like to take steps to minimize my pain now and figure out the best options for me, rather than wait until it becomes unmanageable - I'm dealing emotionally with the realization that this may be inevitable for most of us w/ spinal fusion, and that is very scary.  Yikes.  And I am only 27.

Any suggestions from those who've been through this - thanks.

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Avatar_m_tn
I had L1,2 and 3 fused in 2007. Was having pain related to hardware. Had a hardware block to determine this. Had the hardware removed in 2010. Then herniated disk between L5-S1. I quit counting my injections. Just had another surgery to repair the herniated disk. I'm great now but will always live with some pain. I just deal with it. Happy I'm not in a chair. Go see Dr. Bosita at Texas Back institute. He's the best! The key to successful back surgery is to be healthy, be as fit as you can, don't smoke and do what your doctor tells you to do.
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Avatar_m_tn
Do you know if they take workers comp insurance? Thank you
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Avatar_m_tn
I am 45 and had surgury L4 5 S1  There is a limitation to taking pain killers i have to take morphine and works very well 30 mg.3 times daily but when does it stop my doctor has to keep adjusting my meds because i keep getting used to the meds.I came to this site looking to have a revarsal or info.on it and i guess it cant be done .I will be stopping the meds.because i dont want to be on that spiraling path to methadone and other pain killers.I hurt really bad every day but are pain killers the only option ?
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Avatar_f_tn
do an artificial disc replacement and not a fusion if possible. Much better results and mobility with them. Fusion very drastic!!!
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Avatar_f_tn
You would have to have a disc replacement done, if it is possible. I am looking into it. My fusion has been a nightmare!
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Avatar_f_tn
How are you now? I want to have my fusion taken out and a disc put in. Have you heard of it being done?
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes spinal fusion is the worst thing you can ever do. I'm fused in the cervical and lumbar spine at multi levels and can barely walk. There is one doctor in San Francisco,California that is reversing fusions. But the problems is most insurance companies won't cover the surgery. And if they cover the surgery it is at only one level either in the cervical or lumbar spine. If you have more than one level fused it is not covered at all. The best hope is a clinical trial or in at least seven years there will be more doctors doing it. If a persons need their hip,knee,shoulder replaced they don't fuse them. Fusions are the worst thing you can do. They cause bone spurs,arthritis, and segmenting and you always need another one. Check out my youtube video titled Why neck and back fusions aren't recommended. I'm just trying to help people. I care.
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Avatar_m_tn
My name is Matthew Parker, im 21 Years old and i had the surgery when i was 17. I have 3 Vertebra left on my lumbar. (excuse my terms its been a while since ive seen a doctor about it).
I gym just about every day and put quite a bit of force on my back.
Yet i have no pain at all. I run, Lift Heavy Weights, do most things that normal people do.
I get asked alot if im a dancer because of the posture, but i dont mind.
My only problem is my back is out of proportion, the one side is bigger due to the bend in my spine and ribs.
Im pretty sure in the next few years a breakthrough will find a way to replace your whole spine. Which i will take.
My Surgery was done by Dr Derek Meerkotter in Johannesburg South Africa.
Given the chance i wouldnt advise on the surgery, there is always another way.
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