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World's worst lumbar spine - t10-s1fusion recommended today :-(

Started by Gordon Cook on 10/08/2013 10:15pm

Hi folks,

I am 70, diagnosed with DISH in march 2010. Arthritis of cervical spine 1992 and lumbar issues early on. I have been self employed with an internet newsletter since 1992. want to keep doing that. See web site athttp://cookrepoort.com Cervical diskectomy 1992. Cervical fusion botched in 2000 revised successfully by Dr, Todd Albert. Laminectory l4-l5 in 2000. In 2006 Dr Albert said that needed "revision." Meanwhile right hip was replaced at Rothman in hilly in December 2000. cervical revision in Aug 2000. left hip totally replaced in 2009 also Rothman.

In 2010 with both hips done I could walk reasonably well but since then weakness in lumbar area has severely progress. Have been doing treadmill and low bench pulls and situps at local gym for six months. Helps. But walking more than 200 yards very difficult. 4 10 mg hydrocodone 325 acetominophin per day plus 1 200 mg celebrex keeps pain at bay. But I feel horribly Weak. too much sedentary life. But 26 day research trip to guifinet in spain got me first major dose of exercise in 3 years confirmed the wiseness of gym seven days a week. I hoped by this routine i could avoid surgery. Saw Steven Scherer cheif neuro muscular at Penn 4 times this year. After reviewing april 4 2013 lumbar MRIhe urged a surgical consult.

Had one of June 18 with Penn neurosurgeon. Did not understand why continued exercise would fail and so focused on that the consult went nowhere. Dr Scherer agreed to explain why i had no choice on aug 30. Basically MRI says severe compression nerve root L&R, severe compression foramina L&R moderate to server compression both root and foramina at other levels. You will loose your ability to walk no mater how much exercise you get because the compression is killing your lower extremity motor nerves. That got my attention.

I emailed Todd Albert asking if he would consider lumbar surgery on my. within 36 hours Dr Albert responded by recommending Dr Jeffery Rhin. I saw Dr Rhin today. In addition to reviewing the MRI from April he took multiple xrays going from the cervical spine to lumbar spine. Standing.... one "film". Measure the scoliosis at 35 degrees.
I also have facet damage and growth from the laminectomy affecting the facets at two level. Plus spondo lethysis at one level.

In june i was told decompression at 3 levels... no rods no screws. 3 hours. Today I asked Dr Rhin of the list of defects on the radiology report what would you address? EVERYTHING!!! 7 to 8 hours posterior. Until i had the standing xrays he said he might have togi anterior as well. That scared the hell out of me. The nagging uncertainty of getting gradually worse and often i feel its not so gradual is such that i am inclined to go forward before i get even older.

I have no other serious issues. no hypertension, no diabetes never smoked, infrequent alcohol. both parents lived into their 90s. So if my lumbar spine can be rebuilt I might have 20 years or more ahead of me

One thing that I was glad to hear him say was that he wants me to see dr James Harrop neurosurgeon and they would both do the surgery together. So orthopod and neuro makes sense. I will do this. He indicated that the surgerty could take place next month. I am hoping to be able to attend a week long conference in Quito Ecuador in March. President Correa is calling in an international team of advisors to design a rebuild of Ecuadora political economy on the ground of commons and collaboration. No guarantee but he thinks i should be able to go.

so with this lengthy introduction what are the words from the wise? Given my age it seems to make sense to do as much as possible rather than piecemeal aproach. Any questions to ask about the instrumentation? I gather failures are more RARE? I have the MRI images on my machine but i don't know if thinking about uploading any there is possible or makes any sense.

Do you find this discussion helpful?

3 Responses


My husband, age 67, had a spinal fusion 5 years ago and has had a great result. He did exactly what the Dr. told him, physical therapy, walking, resting, back brace. He does have some arthritic pain in other joints but low dose tramadol and acetamenophin works. You will always hear the worst horror stories about back surgery. Having an excellent surgeon makes a big difference. He also had a neurosurgeon in attendance and that is a great idea. I am having a consultation with his surgeon soon.
I do think that you are right about the fix as much rather than piecemeal approach.
I have had several steroind injections with minimal relief or none at all. I have exercised religiously but my back continues to get worse. If a nerve or nerves are being damaged, no amount of exercise will help. No one but a trained Radiologist or dr. with special training can adequately assess your MRI. If you are uncertain, get a second opinion on it. My husband said it took him about 4 months. to feel better. Be prepared for your body to heal, after all, they are putting bond grafts between your spinal bones. Hope this helps.


In September 2011, I was fused from T11 to S1. I had developed adult onset scoliosis and was bending 30 degrees. I was told by my neurologist if I did not have the operation, my rib cage would be resting on my pelvis in 4-5 years and I would be dead a year later.

I understand that scoliosis surgery is not recommended for people past the age of 60. Problems with fusion. Get the book by David Wolper, Scoliosis Surgery: The Definitive Patient's Reference.

My sister, who is 68, semi-forced her surgeon to do her fusion. It was not as extensive as mine. She lives in St. Louis and had one of the premier local scoliosis surgeons do the surgery. (She is married to a retired MD) He didn't to do the surgery. When he did, he told her there was a 25% chance that the surgery would be successful. Hopes this helps.



Hello! I have been told after MRIs & X-Ray's on thoracic & lumbar areas Nov. of 2013 , that I need a fusion between L-5 thru T-10. I just found this website Nov 25, 2013. I read that the surgery might have to be 2 surgeries!
I will let you know what I decide?
Urbanite / Marcia