Anyone on here gone through a thoracic fusion?



  • I was thinking of the XLIF as well and hoped they didn’t have to remove ribs. I’ll have to research it some more.
  • Shazam, it is good to hear from someone who has had a similar surgery and incision.

    Is your incision at the side of your chest?  I have had two different surgeons who have described this access route to me.

    I have T7/8 and T9/10 herniated discs to the left, which are causing cord compression, the worst being the T9/10.  The disc between them, T8/9, is herniated to the right, but only touching the cord.  I also have herniated discs at the cervical/thoracic junction and the thoracic/lumbar junction, but although the nerves are being compressed, not the cord so I am supposing that they will leave those alone.

    How are you finding the recovery Shazam?  I have been told that it is a very long and painful recovery and that I would be in worse pain that I am at the moment.

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  • Shazam1203SShazam1203 Posts: 21
    edited 09/30/2018 - 10:03 PM

    Hey so the incision is only about 3 inches and is healing awesome. I am happy to send a imgur link if you like to see :) and is on the upper right of my back right by my shoulder blade. I imagine they will do a left sided xlif for you.. mine was a right sided herniation at t7-t8.

    Typically they remove a small portion of the rib ~4 inches or so to gain better access to the disc space. Also another reason they typically remove a small portion is that they retract the ribs and they take a small portion out so less pressure is placed on the ribs as it will usually fracture if they don't do this. Unortunately mine fractured anyways and coughing/sneezing was painful for the first 2 weeks but doing much better now!

    Overall the recovery has actually been quite good. I am still taking pain meds.. mainly for my rib pain which isn't too terrible. Other than that my legs feel great and overall feel pretty great! I am very very glad I had the surgery done even with the complications I had.. (high white blood cell count, small right pneumothorax, and fractured rib) I am back at work and doing well.. I have IT job so just need to sit all day pretty much. Feel free to ask any questions :)

    Still am wearing the TLSO brace but that is normal for about 3 months after surgery. I have appts every month to get Xray done and see bone fusion progress

  • A 3 inch incision is better than I had thought.  I had about a 7/8 inch scar from my lumbar fusion at L4/5 because the surgeon went in at the wrong level at first, so had to extend the incision.  My neck fusion had a tiny incision of only about a 1 inch!

    I had to look up what imgur was!! :-)  I would be interested to see it.  You will have to tell me what I need to do though!

    What did they do about your pneumothorax?

    How long did you stay in hospital?

    I had a load of x-rays and a full spine MRI scan done yesterday.  I will get the results and find out what the plan is on 2nd November.

    Thank you for being so willing to share your experience.  Somehow it makes the whole thing seem less scary!!

  • Shazam, I am so impressed that you are back at work after this surgery.  That is in just a month!  Well done! :-)

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  • Yeah will send link tonight. Fortunately they didn't need to do any procedure on the pneumothorax. Just worked extra hard at the breathing exercises even though it hurt really bad. I was in the hospital for 4 days.. 2 in ICU and 2 in the Orthopedic floor. Fortunately I live close to work and I just have to sit all day so it was easy for me to go back to work. Plus I ended up getting bored at home lol.

  • Imgur link is below :)

    As you can see it is healing very very well!

  • You are definately healing very well.  I have seen some awfully long incisions for thoracic fusions, but yours is small and neat.  It sounds like you are getting a great result too.  I hope that will contnue for you and that you will be relieved of your pain.

    I am waiting now, after lots of scans and x-rays, to get my results and hear what the recommend.  I am trying to remain hopeful that thoracic surgery won't be necessary!  However, yours is one of the best stories I have heard which is very helpfu to make me less worried.  Thank you.

    Do you know what caused your disc problem?  Have you been in an accident?  My spine is pretty bad throughout, at all levels.  I have been told that at least part of the reason I have so much degeneration is because I am hypermobile and so all my joints, including the vertebrae in my spine, move more than they shoud and so wear out quicker.

  • Wow I am amazed someone responded to this thread. I asked several years ago about T spine surgery and no one answered. I have suffered four levels of my Tspine  having herniations since 2008. No one wanted to touch me at all!   They told me no one could help me. I have had 5 cervical fusion surgeries and my L5 S1 Lumbar fusion. I was told I needed two more surgeries by my MS doctor but no one will touch me for eh Tspine and now that is affect my left hands hand and arm not to mention constant pain that radiates with weird sensations. Also if I walk to long my legs go. I am supposed to have another Lumbar fusion above the the fusion they did. It seems like there is a domino affect and it is like I just want off this merry go round. 

  • jbowerjbower wisconsin Posts: 149

    Hi hisbeauty,

    I can only assume you didn't get any responses a few years back just because it isn't common.  I saw a few more surgeons and they all wanted an MRI done.  But because of my spinal cord stimulator not being compatible I cannot have one. 

    They all said sorry, continue with pain management.  Since Aug when I asked this question a lot has changed.  Nothing with pain management though.  They want to repeat the microablation which at first I said ok.

    That was scheduled for Dec.  I started seeing a new chiropractor which I was completely out of alignment.  He also recommended getting custom shoe orthadics AP I went to an orthopedic clinic and did the molding of my feet.

    I then was to see another doctor at that clinic for a custom back brace.  The doctor didn't make it so I ended up seeing his PA.  She didn't understand why my current PM hasn't focused on muscular issues.  Especially since I never gave a chance for my body to heal from the prior surgeries.

    She spoke to me about dry needling to see if it is muscle related.  That's the first time I've heard of dry needling before which when she explained it to me it still made no sense.. lol

    We scheduled that for the following week at PT which they had at the same location so that was nice.  This was now 2 weeks ago I had my first session.  The therapist explained it in more detail and said some people only need one or two sessions and some need a few more.  It varies if you have to have it done again in the future.

    Overall it went well.  He did 4 needles on each side of my thoracic/upper back area.  Afterwards he showed me stretching exercises to do at home and scheduled to come in again a week later.  

    I was getting sore later that night but felt better the next day.  I slept really well that night though.  For the next 5 days I was pain free!!! 3 years with trying just about everything with nothing.   I also have this pain pump in me that's barely doing anything as well but one session of dry needling and I felt great.  

    I went in again this week Tuesday and told him that my thoracic are feels great and now it feels like everything is in my shoulders and neck.  So he did the thoracic area again which I asked how does it feel vs last week.  He said it is not as hard as last week and a lot less stringy.   

    My shoulders were pretty bad though and the left side was the first I could actually feel what he was doing as it was twitching like crazy.  Once done he gave me more exercises to strengthen my shoulders and take the stress off my neck.

    I go in again next week but overall I feel even better than I did last week.  I really hope this stays like this as I may be able to get the pain pump taken out!!!!!!!

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