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2nd Fusion Surgery extension to S1 Questions

TL;DR - Was fused in 2005 from T8-L4; I fractured my L5 recently & Doctor now recommends I have surgery again to fuse L5/S1 and connect them to previous construct. Wondering if anyone has experienced this; worried about loss of mobility and recovery. 

Hello all!

In 2005, I had spinal fusion surgery from T8 - L4 to correct my severe rotary scoliosis condition. I had harrington rods inserted using hooks and screws (a practice, I'm now told is archaic). I was told this would be the only surgery I'd ever need in life (anyone else hear that same story?). Anyway, jump to 1.5 years ago where I was exercising and felt something weird "move" in my lower back. I assumed I pulled a muscle in my right buttocks area since any pressure placed there caused me immense pain on my right side. I tried pain meds; acupuncture; chiro visits; and even x rays and an MRI to find ZERO solutions to my pain problem. My chiro finally recommended a new Ortho surgeon who looked at my xrays/MRI and saw my SI joint was squished. He ordered an epidural for me and suggested I get a CT scan immediately. The epidural lasted a whole 3 weeks before my pain came flying back. Turns out, my CT scan showed I fractured both sides of my L5 on the backside. I also have pelvic obliquity so that's why my pain is stronger on my right side as opposed to my left side. 

My doctor is now recommending that I have anterior surgery to remove what's left of the discs on either side of the L5; move the bone back in place; place spacers in between; and then fusing L5/S1 while connecting it to my current construct (which ends at L4). So I'll essentially be fused from T8 to S1. I have so many worries, I don't know where to begin...

My first major concern is loss of mobility. The fusion will essentially be my mid back all the way down to my base. Does anyone here have experience with this much fusion? I'm relatively young still and am super active in dancing and exercise. I'm worried that fusion to my S1 will severely restrict my mobility. I'm already fused to L4 but I can still bend all the way over and touch my hands to the ground. I have a surprising amount of flexibility and I don't want to lose that. 

I'm also concerned about being fused in general. I asked my doctor if he can just replace the discs and not fuse me; however, he said that that's not possible. Has anyone had something similar where they didn't have to fuse? I'm not sure if I should get a second opinion on that. 

Anyway, I'm just so nervous about going through this again. I've already had so many other residual issues with my first fusion (daily back pain; nerves never coming back; not being able to wear tight clothing around my hips without pain, etc). It doesn't really seem like I have an option to NOT fuse, but I'm looking for a hail Mary. 

Thanks for reading all this and for your support!



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,448

    hello scolipolioli
    welcome to spine health
    all new members should take the system tutorial
    new member information guideline / checklist 

    we have several members that have had full fusions, hopefully they will reply.
    if you have any issues with what your doctor is telling you, then i would get a second opinion. you have been through a lot and still going through it, i know you want the right answers. but surgery is a big decision that should be between you and your surgeon.
    take care and keep us posted.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical Story  
  • Thanks Sandra! I too hope someone else on the forum can share their experiences with me. I'd definitely be interested in their experiences with full fusion and their mobility after the fact. I'm also in the middle of researching more doctors to see if I can get a second opinion. Hoping I can find some answers :)

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  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 992
    edited 01/09/2019 - 5:00 AM


    I don't have a full spinal fusion but I am fused from L4-S1 and it does limit somewhat my ability to bend over.  This is mostly due to the fact that a lot your ability to bend at the waist comes from the L5 joint.  However having said that I don't find that the reduced flexibility is really all that big of a deal... and doesn't really compromise my quality of life.  It's not like I'm stiff as a board now.  I doubt you will be able to put your hands flat on the floor when bending at the waist anymore but most people can't do that even without fusion.  It's like most things in life... after awhile you will get used to it.  Certainly I would think you could still enjoy dancing you just may have to adjust some of your routines and exercise to a bit to be less "wild/aggressive".  For me I enjoy swimming every day for exercise... it doesn't stress my back and joints like running or basketball, etc..   

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Hi Harry,

    Thank you for your response to my post! I really appreciate the information you provided. It does sadden me to hear you experienced loss of mobility. I’m glad you don’t find it too impeding on your lifestyle though. For me, however, I’m only 30 and it’s disheartening to be limited even more in my flexibility. I’m an entertainer and good “movement” is pretty key to my lifestyle and career. I think I’ll have to seek out other opinions from doctors to make sure fusion is my only option.  I’d hate to fuse only to find out I didn’t have to. Thanks again! 


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