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Thread: Having ALIF surgery and scared.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015

    Default Having ALIF surgery and scared.

    Decision made, surgery scheduled. Now getting clearance from cardiologist and others. I'm scared. Of surgery, recovery time and outcome. Any others who have had this ALIF? At first the PSO was talked about. Then got 2nd opinion. Now the ALIF seems the more appropriate surgery. I have the Harrington rod since 1979. Have bad flat back now. Any recovery advice? Before and after?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Weird Wiltshire

    Default Re: Having ALIF surgery and scared.

    Do you know where you will be fused to? It's not necessarily a given that it will be to the sacrum even when it is flatback revision surgery - my first fusion was to L2, and the flatback revision only took it to L4.

    If the loss of lordosis is modest, then it probably makes a lot of sense to try to gain the correction as an ALIF procedure (for anyone reading who's not familiar with the abbreviation, this is an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion - basically, the disc is removed and fusion material is packed in place of it. In most cases these days, a shaped cage is used, so that it both re-shapes, instruments and fuses the spine. It can be done at one level, or multiple levels, and a few degrees of lordosis can be added with each cage).

    I ended up with a combination of small osteotomies (probably Smith-Petersen) and a huge one (probably Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy, in my case the entire rear of L2 was removed, so what's left is triangular when viewed from the side), but I didn't have straightforward flatback, and a lot of correction was needed.

    As far as ALIF goes, although few people here will have been fused to the sacrum when having them, plenty of us have had it done My first surgery involved ALIF at T12-L1 and L1-2, and most people who have had lumbar anterior surgery will have had some form of ALIF procedure. I hope that is comforting to know!

    It's very nearly 21 years since I had my original surgery, and although I was an adult I was not quite 21 so still very young. As such I'm sat here wracking my brains for advice related to it, but it all seems a remarkably long time ago! If you have any particular questions, do feel free to ask them. The few things that stand out as specific to the ALIF aspect of it were that I felt very weak on that side initially, so I'd get tired rapidly once I was sitting a bit. It also gave some really weird sensations when recovering, basically as a result of the way the nerves healed back up, but I found a solution to it which is that where you'd expect to want to be as gentle as possible around a scar, gentle touch drove it mad as feeling was returning, so I found that after the initial superficial pain had gone and this weirdness started, wearing close fitting jeans, or leggings, or a pair of tights made all the difference in the world, so I'm mentioning that just in case it proves helpful

    We've had quite a few members who've had surgery in their 40s and later. Bluestone springs to mind as someone who is still around from time to time, and also MOB - she had flatback revision surgery, and considerably more recently than me, so could be a good person to search for messages by
    Diagnosed at 15 with 50° curve, but probably juvenile IS. Fused in kyphosis (by non-specialised ortho) with a/p surgery T10-L2 @ 21, posterior only revision surgery to correct kyphosis @ 29. Now 38 with further revision surgery and extension of fusion to sacrum required to correct residual kyphosis, restore lordosis and address spinal stenosis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Reno, Nevada USA

    Default Re: Having ALIF surgery and scared.

    I had a 5 level stacked ALIF before a T2-Pelvis posterior, 2 day stage.....

    Recovery advice?

    Concentrate on the goal and never deviate in your mind. Look forward, think forward, never look back and think “I shouldn’t have done this”. Put your horse blinders on and stare straight ahead and get the mission done. Yes, its going to hurt, but think how well your will be doing as you heal....It’s a one way door, but the other side is worth it.....

    You know about adaptability......remember that you surrender, and adapt.

    The nutritional aspects of scoliosis surgery are important things to think about. We do get run down in this regard, so take nutrition seriously, and eat right. Its hard to eat on meds so this takes a bit more effort.

    Nutrition is key to healing. Walking moves that nutrition around. Water keeps the plumbing flowing......

    That and a little bit of warm prune juice, and you should do fine!

    Keep 2 bottles of Magnesium Citrate around just in case.....


    57 yr old male
    T70 L70 double trouble
    A/P T2-Pelvis BMP Jan 2008

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Default Re: Having ALIF surgery and scared.

    Hi Sheila,
    I had a posterior revision surgery in 2010, I had an osteotomy, a decompression and new rods put in. ( My original surgery was done in the 80's, Harrington rod, Harrington rod replacement and Harrington rod removal). The surgery took 9 and half to 10 hours, I was knocked out for 13 hours. I spent one day in ICU and 4 days in a high dependency unit, I had 3 blood transfusions and I also had a bladder infection after they removed the catheter. I was in hospital for a total of 12 days and spent two weeks in a nursing home as I live on my own and I was going home to my elderly folks who helped to look after me for a couple of months until I went back to my own home. The first couple of weeks were tough, it got easier and easier as time went on. During my recovery I used an abslider its a piece of exercise equipment that has a resistance and handlebars and can be rolled up and down the floor or walls, I used to put my feet on it, it helped to strengthen my legs. My friends also called to take me out for lunch and a walk around garden centres once a week.

    I am doing quite well now, I still have to attend the hospital once a year for a checkup. I work part time helping people get back to work. I walk a lot especially hill walking, and play indoor bowls. I am out and about most of the time.

    Hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck with your surgery.


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