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Wife has had 4 back surgeries, one neck surgery, now this..

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,000
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My wife has had 4 back surgeries, and one neck surgery.

She is in pain management, and they put some electrical leads in her back attached to a battery pack she wore on a belt with a remote to turn it up and down if she wished. After a day, she began leaking spinal fluid from where the leads entered her back, and the leads had to be removed, but they didn't do it until 3 days later.

The doctor said she has a great deal of scar tissue that they had to punch through to get to the nerve.

When he removed the leads, he said that she needs to stay in bed for several days and if it begins leaking again, she needs to go in and have a "blood patch" done.

This does not sound good to us at all. The one good thing from all of this, is that while the leads were in, she said they helped with the pain going down her legs. But, we're now worried about this leakage problem. Could it reoccur after they put in the permanent device under her skin? And could more scar tissue form, causing the device to be ineffective?

Anyone with any info or suggestions, please post. Thanks


  • I'm so sorry to hear this. I was offered a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) instead of having my spinal fusion and I really didn't like the idea of having leads placed next to my spinal canal, simply for the reason you've stated above. Much too touchy of an area to chance an invasion into the actual canal itself in my opinion. How many of these procedures had the surgeon done before working on your wife? I know the SCS can be a very effective tool in managing pain. Maybe someone more experienced could be of help to your wife. It certainly sounds as though she has been through a rough road with all of this. Pain is a horrible thing and i commend you for trying to help her. I would think that when they discovered the leak, they should have done the surgery immediately. Leaking spinal fluid is not good.

    I wish you both the best.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for your response Linda.

    We were told that this doctor "taught other doctors all over the country" how to do this procedure, but teaching I guess doesn't translate into experience.

    We weren't even told that leaking spinal fluid might be something we should look for. They blew sunshine at us during the explanation of the procedure and we bought it...

    O well, this morning her headache is gone, so that's a good sign, maybe the blood patch won't be needed. I'm keeping an eye on her just to be sure though.

    During the removal of the temporary device, the doctor said he now wants to wait at least 13 weeks (3 months) before putting in the permanent device, but we're having 2nd (and 3rd) thoughts about going ahead with it after all of this.
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  • Looks like the blood patch is going to have to be done after all. She's having headaches and a burning sensation at the place where they put the stimulator. She's a bit afraid, but I read up on it and it seems like a fairly simple procedure, but it also seems, based on our experience, that nothing is simple when it comes to back procedures...

    I'll post again after she has it's done to let you guys know how it turned out...
  • Sorry to hear that you and your wife have had to endure so much recently. I hope she gets the headache under control soon. A bloodpatch is a fairly routine procedure these days and works like a charm to stop the CSF headache very quickly.

    It's unfortunate that you were not informed of the risk of a dural tear during the SCS trial procedure. It should have been on the list of possible complications/side effects on the release form signed for the procedure. I've read and signed many of them and each one lists dural tear as a potential outcome.

    I have an SCS for pain management. I have two leads that are implanted in my neck that are inside my spinal canal and rest there just fine. The wires exit between C7 and T1 and then run down my back to a generator implanted in my upper right buttock. I've had this SCS for over a year now and find it to be the one thing that allows me to have a decent life these days.

    Every doctor and clinic have their own protocol as to how long of a wait there typically is between the trial and the permanent procedure. You should be able to query the doc on why he suggests such a long wait. It could even be as simple as the insurance company requiring that amount of time. Or it could be related to the dural tear and how long they want it to heal. You won't know unless you ask.

    Anyway, best of luck to you two. Keep us posted.

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