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Anyone on here gone through a thoracic fusion?

Hello All,

I have been reading the posts under surgeries looking for anyone that has posted about thoracic fusions and there doesn't appear to be anyone.  Most of the fusion stories are lumbar fusions.

I've been looking all over this site for really any surgery on thoracic with no luck.  I know it is not common in the thoracic but come on.  It cannot be that uncommon can it?

I reached out to my neurosurgeons office today for a second opinion about my chronic thoracic pain.  This surgeon did both of my L5-S1 surgeries and the guy was amazing so I thought why not reach out to him.

Going on two and a half years with pain management still in just about the same pain as when I started if not worse.  Only difference is all the medical debt they have caused me.

I just got my CT scan results but don't go back to PM till the 14th to discuss the results. I thought I would call the surgeons office for another opinion.  What a big difference between the two offices.  If you read some of my prior posts you will see that PM has been a huge joke the last few years.

The surgeons office transferred me to one of his specialists who asked me a ton of questions with what has happened since 2015 when he did my last lumbar surgery. Then she was able to pull up my CT scan which I was shocked because that was done under a different hospital not affiliated plus they didn't order it. I didn't know they could do that.

Then the last question was what would I like to happen on his team. I said I'm over the run around with PM that I would like someone who deals with just the spine to look at my scan and give me an honest opinion of what I should do next. She said ok, give him two days to go over everything and we will call you back on Monday.  Then they will discuss over the phone his thoughts and recommendations and if he can help me.  If he can and I want to proceed then they'll schedule an office visit to talk to him in person.

I was amazed.  I couldn't believe it was that easy and willing to look into this plus calling me back to discuss what he thinks.  For gosh sakes I have to schedule an office visit with PM just to pick up a paper prescription for a med that I've been on for over 2 years! So they can charge me the $300 office fee to pick up a piece of paper!

That's when I started thinking that maybe PM has been taking advantage of me for so long to fill their pocket book.  Needless to say, I really hope the surgeon finds something on my scan that he can help me with.

Which goes back to my question, looking for someone that's gone through a fusion in the thoracic spine. If what I'm seeing on my results is correct I think that might be what he recommends.  

I'm curious on what the recovery time was like for you and how soon returning to work could be?  That would be my biggest concern if I can return to my desk job in a reasonable time.  With all of my surgeries, recovery was around 2 to 3 weeks before I went back to work.

Let me know your experience with that please.

Thank you,


Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.



  • Hello , sir

       You are right about finding anyone who has been through thoracic Fusion!  I have been doing the same for some time. I had a full laminectomy and Fusion of T10/11 about 3 weeks ago.  Prior to surgery, I had alll but lost the use of both legs. For nearly 4 years I chased  doctor after doctor trying to figure out why I had no energy.  Turns out, I didn’t have an energy issue, it was  just taking all I had to walk.  I had NO back pain whatsoever so we were looking at everything else. My GI doc saw that a 3 year old CT scan that was done for my colon cancer showed degenerative disc disease. So I went to the spine doc and sure enough, I had a huge bulging disc.  They went right to surgery, no shots, no pills, nothing... straight to surgery.  When I woke up in recovery, my legs felt very different.  I walked the next day with no problems at all.   Recovery has been slow and moderately painful but the ability to walk again is worth it.  I live in Atlanta and state laws concerning opiates have gotten very strict.  I was sent home with 40 Percocet and 30 Flexeril and that is it.  I am managing pain with good ol Tylenol and CBD oil has been a Godsend! I HIGHLY recommend CBD.  I will be praying for you. Specifically to get through the challenges of our healthcare system,  and for your doctors to have God given wisdom and skill. 

    Keep us posted. 

  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 152

    Hello sonnyh,

    I remember a time with the worst leg pains in my life.  That was due to my sciatic nerve being pinched.  It was pure hell for months before I went to that nero surgeon who took one look at my MRI and said you need surgery to fix this.  Mine wasn't the same day though, it was the next day.  I was able to walk normal once I stood up after recovery.

    I have 2 bulging discs which one tore through the outer wall, DDD, osteoarthritis and mild scoliosis that's pushing my thoracic to the left.  I don't really know if he will recommend any type of surgery or not. All I know is nothing that has been done has helped relieve the pain at all.  I'm tired of all of the procedures and medications that hasn't done anything.

    I want to enjoy my time with my family and kids again.  I've lost two and a half years staying with this pain management clinic.  Now I have this pain pump in me that's doing nothing as well which I want it out of me.  A useless surgery that shouldn't have been done in the first place.

    So with your surgery did they say how long recovery would be?  If you are working did they give you a time frame on when you could go back?  If he came back and recommended surgery I don't know what I would do as thoracic surgery freaks me out.  All of the other surgeries I've had didn't bother me but I this one would.

    It sounds like you received positive relief from your surgery and that's great.  I wish you the best and speedy recovery. I'll let you know what the surgeon comes back with hopefully tomorrow.

    Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.

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  • If I had a thoracic problem that required surgery I would go to the neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh I PM’d you about. That’s just me. 

    I’d rather have a tiny incision and leave the hospital the next day versus a big incision that laid me up for 6-12 months. 

  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 152

    We have a really good spine clinic here but I don't know how they do it.  I wouldn't know till I speak to him. We'll see what happens.  I don't know if I would want to travel to another state for surgery.  That's a bit much.

    Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.

  • I don't know if I would want to travel to another state for surgery.
    For a routine procedure I would agree with you 100%. 

    Personally if I had the choice between a minimally invasive thoracic procedure or a thoracic fusion I would do anything and everything to try to get my insurance to cover the minimally invasive one, no matter where in America I had to go, especially since it’s just an overnight stay.

    The surgeons where I live say they rarely do surgery on herniated thoracic discs because it’s a tough and rough surgery on the human body and oftentimes the patient ends up with nasty chronic rib cage pain the rest of their life. 

    That’s with the fusion. However I seem to recall several people on the forum having thoracic fusions and saying it’s not that bad. 

    Every situation and every patient is different.

    The best thing to do is probably investigate and research thoracic surgery extensively to get a better idea.

    I wish the doctor who repairs herniated thoracic discs via 1” incision would teach other surgeons his method but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    Once he dies who knows how long it will be until the USA has another surgeon who can replicate his method.

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  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 152

    Yeah that's true and I do see your point on this.  I think if it comes down to that and Inhad to choose between a more invasive surgery vs less invasive I would go with the less invasive.

    I don't necessarily think though that this doctor in PA is the only one who does a less invasive spinal fusion or surgery.  That's what the laser spinal institute was trying to tell me when I reached out to them about surgery on my L5S1 herniated disc.  That they are the only ones that do a less than one inch incision for that surgery.  And if I go with someone in my area they would make a huge incision and recovery would take months.

    That wasn't the case though. My surgeon did a less than one inch incision and I felt great afterwards.  I was back to work in less than two weeks.

    I'm still waiting to hear back from him on my scan results.  I hope I hear something this week...

    Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.

  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,416
    edited 08/07/2018 - 11:21 AM

    I’m speaking specifically about a herniated thoracic disc (not cervical or lumbar). emphasis on thoracic.

    It’s almost impossible to find someone in America who repairs thoracic discs using a minimally invasive method.

    Finding a surgeon to repair a lumbar or cervical disc is a piece of cake. 

    To repair a herniated thoracic disc with only a tiny incision requires a rare and incredible skill.

    Good luck and please keep us posted. 

  • gfishggfish Pittsburgh PAPosts: 239

     I wont be much help even with my T4-T10 fusion. Is the CT scan new, Not from 2015. The Nero will want a new CT of the thoracic area if not an MRI. Plus they will try other treatments first, if they can before a fusion.  Like epidural steroid injections. They are very different from a trigger point. Or a TSLO brace. And  I would not use a doctor that has never did or did very few thoracic fusions. You want a doctor that specializes in that area. Its not the same as you lumbar area.  

    Greg fisher
  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 152

    Hi Greg,

    No the CT scan was just done a few weeks ago.  Right now it's just a what if as I'm still waiting to hear back.  I have done multiple things trying to get relief in my thoracic spine and nothing has worked.  Part of the problem is I've been just going to a pain management clinic.

    I've tried chiropractic  which made things worse. Acupuncture is a joke to me as that's just a waste of money for nothing because it doesn't go through insurance. Two different types of injections multiple times with no relief.  Trigger point injections nothing as well. Radio frequency and microablation which the second round on both sides was all over with no results.  We tried a SCS that did nothing but did rule out it wasn't nerves.  Last thing was a pain pump implant that was great during the trial but nothing with the permanent implant.

    I do PT as much as I can at home every day.  Along with stretching which helps for a short time. I'm at my last rope with things to try.  Plus now ill  have to get this pump removed.  

    What I've found odd is how many times a day I have to pop my thoracic spine for relief.  At work it's in my chair and at home its laying on the floor.  I've always had to pop my back for relief ever since I was in junior high.  I told pain management when I did the stimulator trial for 5 days that that was the first time since forever that I haven't felt all the pressure in my thoracic that I needed to pop it.  All they said to that was, I've never heard that before.  To me having to pop my back all day long isn't normal and its telling my body something is wrong but they shrug it off.

    My neurosurgeon is one of the best here as he focuses just on the spine but his specialty is thoracic surgery and fusion.  That's why I decided enough is enough and reached out to his office last week for his opinion.  I'm still waiting for his recommendations.

    On the 14th I go back to pain management to hear their thoughts as well.  I would trust more what my neurosurgeon comes back with then the PA at pain management.

    Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.

  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 152

    Greg I forgot to ask if your fusion was worth it?  Did you get relief that you were looking for after the surgery?  Was that entire area done all at once or over time?

    Taking it one day at a time, that is all we really can do while living with chronic pain.

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