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Posted in: Spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis Surgery in 6 wks - is there HOPE?

Started by Maggie1422 on 01/28/2011 5:23pm

Hi .....Maggie Here: talking about my Spondy. L5 - S1
Well, after two years of pain, epidurals, PT, and consults... I have decided to have this dreaded surgery. A level 1 fusion with instrumentation..rods & screws - can't imagine what getting through airport security will be like after this!! Believe me, I'm not making light of this. I am extremely nervous about having this done. I had one other invasive surgery - which was no walk in the park,
but fully recovered. I have read nothing good about this surgery at all so far.

Is there anyone who has had positive results from this surgery???
...if so...can you please shed some light & hope for the rest of us???

I plan to post what I go through..from pre-op through post op and post my take on it.
Everyone is different I know..so I will try to just state facts as I go along.

For Now .... Maggie1422

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8 Responses


I have a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis which with my DDD at l5/s1, resulted in severe bi-lateral foraminal stenosis which caused significant bilateral root nerve compression at this level. 11 months ago I underwent fusion surgery with instrumentation. It was a rough first 9 months, however I'm blessed to say that it is a success!!!! My legs no longer kill me and they are no longer weak now and my fusion site is just tender. I hav e my last 12 month check up next month. I wish u the best.


Are you going to an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon? I have been doing a lot of research and am uncertain who to go to for Bi-lateral pars defect repair or fusion surgery. I don't know who to go to but have read a lot of encouraging feedback on outcomes of surgery.

I live in the south so I am considering Emory Hospital nd an orthopedic surgeon but will get several different opinions. It is definitely something to only use as a last resort but many have gotten great results. The key is how can they take the stress of the back above and below the fusion. See what your surgeon says and let us know of your results....I am hopeful you get your life back! God Bless!


Hi Jack: I have spent a good part of 2010 consulting with different surgeons. In the end I have opted to
stay with the first ortho-surgeon I saw. The first consult with him he described my condition, and my
options straight forward....though he said based on my pain description fusion surgery would most likely
be the long term solution. He set me up with epidural nerve root injections to see if they would help. The
injections helped a little..but none long term...and too many injections can actually cause nerve damage
themselves. But they gave me time to go and seek other opinions...from an neuro-surgeon...and even
to a larger university hospital further away from our home. All agreed a fusion surgery was indicated.
I know of Emory, one of the leading spine institutes..if you go there, you can't go wrong. I chose to
stay local not only for logistics, but because my Dr. recvcd his fellowship from Emory.. (also word of
mouth - two different PT's they have seen his patients and they do very well, and one was a nurse when
I went for a MRI, whose daughter had fusion surgery by my dr. Guess I'm trying to say...Go and get
as many opinions as your insurance allows, neuro & ortho...and at Emory if you can. Also,, I am
hoping my spine will endure the fusion..My surgeon said my other vertebre above & below look
healthy and normal. Good luck in choosing a Dr...(that's a major decision!!)
To Squirtatious - thank you so much for all the information. I have read just about all your threads,
knowledge is power..and you have given so many people a realistic view of this journey. Please
keep posting. There are many of us who will need an encouraging word (or two)!! Thanks Again!!!


Hi to everyone suffering with Spondilolithesis

Maggie - I had a stupid little accident in 1994 and had a 50/50 chance of not walking again if I did not have the operation - Spinal Decompression and Fussion of L5.

I had 3 months to decide what to do and did not have the internet for advise - in fact I was the 13th person in the uk to have this operation which made me feel even worse! ANYWAY The operation was Quote a success and i was able to feel my feet within a few minutes of waking up. I was in bed for 48 hours then allowed to walk to the toilet and the next day I was up and down stairs.

IF i had had the information to hand from the internet I would have heard of the "Boston Brace" which is available in the USA not in the UK where I live - If you have access to this brace get it!!!!!!

Reasons why you want a boston brace
1 You would not need to have an operation at all as it supports your spine and you only have to use it for a few months to allow the back to stablise.
2 You do not have to recover from the op
3 You will not have the fun of trying to pee lying down in a bed with a bed pan!

After my op i was finally able to walk without pain. The Metal work was removed after 1 year due to a car pulling out on me and causing pain in the lower back and the consultant was sure the graft had taken.

However, 5 years later, I went to make a cup of coffee and fell on my face as my legs did not get the signal to move. I went back to the hospital and was finally told that the failure rate for this operation is 5 years. This was confirmed when I found out on the internet that the failure rate is 5 years for 85% of the people who have this operation.

Having returned to the (Private) hospital i was given a cortisone injection into my spine not only at
L5 but from L1,L2,L3,L4 and L5 as the operation had now caused damage to the rest of my vertibra due to them having to do the work for L5 and not being able to cope, they then moved into different directions.

I was then told that I had grade 2/3 spondilolithesis and have been disabled since 2001 - I use Crutches to help me get around not to put weight on but for support and because I now rock from side to side when I walk and the crutches give me room to walk and then i do not bump into people or them into me!

As an added bonus shall we say I caught the MRSA bug during the first operation and had to have 5 further ops to clean the bug and get rid of it. I had to have a necklace of Antibiotic beads placed in the scar and removed with pliers each day and stayed an extra week whilst they did this.

Would I have the op again knowing what I know now? YES 5 years brake was wonderful and I would do it again if it stopped the pain.

There is no other fix for me now and I been tempted with Prolotherapy but I'm not stupid enough to have some simply inject an irritant into my ligaments especially L1 to L5 NOWAY. I now take Buprmorphine patches 40mg 7 days aweek and the maximum amount of pain killers possible as well as antidepression tablets everyday but I'm still in pain.

Good Luck on your decission i wish you the best - Anything to stop some of the pain!!!!!


Linda B - I will certainly ask my Dr. about the Boston Brace. My Lord..I hope you will be able to find some
kind of solution. I have heard of different types surgeries but this is really all quite new to me. I'm sure
you're continuing to look for some type of answer. Yes, I am afraid that my other vertebre will wear down
and become unstable and talked to my Dr. about it. I also have a bulging disc at C4 from an old injury.
I was a police officer for 18 yrs...it was physically demanding at times and looking back I wonder if some of my problems now are related to stunts I did back in my younger days. How doesn't matter now...just
feeling better. I wish someone could develop a guaranteed fix for all who suffer like this...In the meantime, hope you find some relief. I will post an answer about that Boston Brace.
Thanks for the information. For now.. Maggie1422


I am grade zero with my Pars Defect but is terrible pain all the time. I have done everything including Prolothereapy and am getting stronger but still no releief from the pain. I think I have found a great acupunture MD and will try that for relief for the next 4-6 months. All of his patients said he has helped them significantly. I will share my results. Because there is no slippage they can see on MRI's or CT scans no surgeon will operate and I can't find anyone that seems to have done multiple Pars Defect repair surgeries. Anyone that knows of a great experienced surgeon it would be great to hear from you. Let me know and I will provide my contact info. I am still hopeful new bone growing techniques will be developed so I can get my life back without pain and drugs to get through every day. Any help or info is apprciated...


Hi Maggie!
There is hope, and I'm living proof of it.
I suffered with arthritis in my back for quite a few years but in late 2004 the pain got considerably worse & got so bad that I couldn't stand for any period of time without terrible pain.
I first went to a chiropractor and had several months' of treatment, including deep tissue massage and kept asking "When is this going to start feeling better?" but it didn't.
I finally went back to my family doctor who had the wisdom to send me to a Nuerosurgeon.
I thought he'd recommend physical therapy or injections, but nope - I had spondylolisthesis and it was straight to surgery for me! I had L5-S1 surgery with donor graft and hardware in April of 2005 and have had wonderful results.
I've talked to a lot of people who've had back surgery and I'm convinced that having a Neurosurgeon perform the surgery was the key to my success.
Within six months, I was back to my normal routine with no restrictions. I do still have some occasional back pain - mostly when I overdo things (like moving furniture, etc.!) but it's tolerable.
I've been in two auto accidents since then - both times the vehicles were totaled - with no adverse effects to the hardware.
My thoughts & prayers are with you and I hope that your results are as good as mine have been.


Hello Maggie,
I had spondylolisthesis (85%slippage) at L5-S1, bone on bone, disc totally gone, among numerous other issues. I had a posterior fusion done July of 2008 with great results. Within minutes of waking I knew it was successful. I could feel my left foot after 7plus years of numbness, I was also able to lay flat in bed which I hadn't been able to do in years. By Sept of 2008 I managed to walk 3 miles at Niagra Falls (I did have to stop several times to rest) but overall felt the surgery well worth it and a huge success. I was released by my surgeon in December of 08. Unfortunately I blew the disc above the fusion in May of 09 lifting my Granddaughter out of the tub. I went back to my surgeon who ordered tests and found that on top of rupturing the disc at L3-L4 the original graft did not take. He felt my pain was from nonunion of the fusion. He did a revision in Feb of 2010 which included caging, more rods, screws, etc to make sure if the fusion didn't take again that my spine would stay stable if one of the original rods would fail. He did the second surgery by the anterior approach. I'm not going to lie, it was very painful and I ended up catching pneumonia. From coughing a suffered a hematoma which required opening of the wound, cleaning and allowing my abdomen to heal from inside out.
I would discuss with your doctor why he's choosing anterior as opposed to posterior if this is your first fusion to that spot. Once done from the front they generally won't go back in due to risk and scar tissue, so I would suggest having it from the back so you have option of anterior approach if the first surgery fails.