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Blown T12 verterbrae--surgery vs not
Old 10-25-2014, 10:04 PM   #1
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Blown T12 verterbrae--surgery vs not

Looking for perspective on life implications with having the lower thoracic vertebrae (T12)pretty much wiped out in a compression fracture.
Wife fell in shower and based on her xrays has suffer compression fracture of her T12. It is as yet unclear just how much vertical height has been lost. We understand anything over 50% indicates a need for surgery. Initial CAT scans seem to put the loss right at this threshold--so kinda a punt zone.
Docs did a MRI today but we have not gotten the results--doc was in surgery all afternoon.
Lead doc initial indications was surgery was not necessary and would have her in a brace for 90 days with therapy.
Today his colleague who was doing his rounds, expressed some skepticism. As a lay person looking at the bone loss on the CAT scan, it is difficult to see how bracing will provide sufficient healing to leave a stable, structurally resilient spine with what she has left.

Anyone with first hand experience with the tradeoffs on opting for surgery and bone grafts etc versus trying brace and therapy? Any coaching on key questions or data points to be sure we get covered by docs?
Many thanks


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Old 10-26-2014, 06:20 AM   #2
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I had a compression fracture on my T12 about 13 years ago while falling from a tree 20ft height, landed on my butt. Did not have surgery and wear a brace for 6 weeks and only could remove it while laying in bed. My compression was 20% based on the MRI scanning. I do not have any pain in the T12 area, I do get pain on my lower back while mountain biking for long periods of time (2 hours or more). The procedure was successful in my case, the doctor said I was very lucky not to be in a wheelchair from the accident. No more tree climbing for me.

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Old 10-26-2014, 08:20 AM   #3
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No experience, but why not try the non-invasive therapy approach first, and if it doesn't work, opt for the surgery.
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Old 10-26-2014, 08:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
No experience, but why not try the non-invasive therapy approach first, and if it doesn't work, opt for the surgery.
No experience with T- level. I have issues with C4-C5 & C6-C7. First neurosurgeon wanted to cut on me twice, but didn't know what surgery to do first. I remember one phrase he used that made up my mind, 'the surgery(s) could be successful, but you could be a quadriplegic'.

I chose PT as it was an option. Another 3 neurosurgeons all declined to perform surgery as 'they could do more harm than good'. They all would recommend a guy that would cut, if I insisted.

I've been living a full life without surgery(18 years). I agree, try the non invasive treatment first, you can opt for surgery later. I think T level surgery is much different than C level, but check out all your reasonable options. Don't be afraid to ask for second or third opinions, it's your right.

Best wishes for a positive outcome.

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Old 10-26-2014, 09:08 AM   #5
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Always try conservative treatment first. Surgery often does not provide acceptable results from a patient's perspective but may be considered a success by the physician. Unless the threat of paralysis was imminent, I would not choose surgery.

L1 compression fracture with almost 50% loss of vertebral height. I've lived with it for 40+ years. Of course YMMV.

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Old 10-26-2014, 12:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Capwest28 View Post
Surgery often does not provide acceptable results from a patient's perspective but may be considered a success by the physician
Regrettably this seems to apply to many classes of surgery.
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Old 10-26-2014, 03:21 PM   #7
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First of all, my heart goes out to your wife. She is going to be in a great deal of pain initially.

I had an accident 6 years ago, and was diagnosed with a compressed L-1 vertebrae. I remember the Dr. telling me that I was "borderline" in terms of requiring surgery. He said "Come back when you can no longer stand the pain." I ended up spending 7 weeks in a body brace 24 hrs. a day, which was difficult to say the least.

Fast forward, I healed really well. Today I scuba dive, bicycle, do yoga, and help my DH rehab real estate. I was running until my knees decided that it wasn't a good idea.

When the Dr. dismissed me from his care, he said something along the lines of "You've had a good result. I have operated on people who were less injured than you."

Wishing your wife a speedy recovery...

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