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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 11946
Experience:  U.S. Physician/Surgeon in Neurosurgery
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I recently went in for a lumbar spinal fusion (L5-S1) but

Resolved Question:

I recently went in for a lumbar spinal fusion (L5-S1) but the surgeon said I had fused on my own so he ended up doing a microdisectomy..(said he "could not move it)"
The intial injury was from 30+ yrs ago. It was aggravated by a car accident 12/07. Epidural injections had helped periodically over the years but not since 12/07. Approx 6 months prior to the surgery I had to wear a TENS unit all the time and could not sleep on either side. The pain was constant I had to ly on ice/heat and became dependent on pain meds I am hoping to get off of when healed..
My question is how does a patient fuse on their own and is it possible that I may have fused incorrectly which would cause more problems? How could it be considered non invasive surgery when he tried to move the area he was going to fuse? The surgery was 3/12/09, I am still not able to sit long,drive or stay on my feet too long without pain which could go to an 8. Still pain in left buttock and can't lie on sides. Please advise.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 8 years ago.

When a surgeon says you have fused on your own -- it is usually because of bone growth due to long-standing arthritis of the joints -- the joints become so irritated, that they start to grow between them until they fuse together.

It is not unusual to see bones fused together in the spine when people have had a long history of arthritis in the back. And if the back is already fused, there is no use in "surgically" fusing the area, since the surgery would not add anything additional. I'm going to guess that 30 years ago, the accident caused the injury to the back, and over the next 30 years, this slowly fused itself (similar to if you broke a bone, it would heal).

When the surgeon said "could not move it", that means he just felt the two bones in the operating room, to see if there was movement at the joint. If the two bones moved separately, then it is not fused. If they moved together in one piece, then they were fused. It has nothing to do with non-invasive surgery.

But given your new pains, should they continue to last over several weeks, new imaging should be done to see the cause of the pain. Occasionally fluid can collect in the area, a disc can reherniate, or scar tissue can press on the nerve causing pain after the surgery, so your surgeon should followup with a MRI.
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