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    My breaking point
    mellycooper posted:
    Hey all,

    I just got back from vacation in Venice.... two days too early. My husband and I left a four days ago supposed to stay for a week but we had to leave early because my back was hurting so bad. It was like my spine was grinding on itself. I felt so bad, I don't think my husband was mad at me but I knew it was my pain that was keeping him from having a good time on vacation he so desperately needed after such a rough time at work. I went to the doctor yesterday in Tampa Florida and scheduled my surgery for two days from today! It is a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery clinic, where the incision is only an inch long and all "fusion-like" procedures are done with small lasers rather than blades. The recovery time is insignificant only a day at most and I will be ready to be out and about again so soon. I just wanted to tell you guys since I was posting here earlier and if you have any questions, just ask.
    Trying to figure things out!
    dianer01 responded:
    Hi Mellycooper,

    Please understand what you are having done before you let a surgeon touch you. What type of surgery are you having and what is it supposed to accomplish? I am not sure what "fusion-like" procedure is. If you are having a microdiskectomy, they are often done from a very small incision but fusions require a much larger incision because of the hardware.

    Please also understand if you are having a fusion, they are not designed to reduce pain but designed to stabilize your spine. If your pain is less, all the better but fusions are considered successful even if they do not relieve pain.

    Please be sure you ask the surgeon exactly what they plan on doing and what it is supposed to accomplish before they wheel you off. Once they work on you, there is no going back.

    I am not saying any of this to be mean or not be sympathetic but I am not sure you have realistic expectations for your surgery or even fully understand what they are doing.
    dacwest responded:
    Are you going to the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa?
    Anon_160307 replied to dacwest's response:
    It definitely sounds like the laser spine institute to me. I have been researching it here recently. There are only NINE surgeons in the country that are skilled enough to perform these types of back surgeries using laser technology. The discectomy is done with a very tiny incision and the laser vaporizes the part of the disc that is bulging. It requires no general anesthesia.

    But it is VERY EXPENSIVE! It is like the Cancer Center Treatments of America to cancer patients. It is out of network and they have four surgical sites across the US that you have to travel to for the surgery. But they have many consultation centers in most US states and have seminars perioidically.

    They also do laminectomies, fusion-like surgeries, and scar tissue removal amongst other things. I am highly considering footing the bill for it. I am back to the point of not being able to make it work because of the nerve pain. It would probably cost me $10,000 to $30,000 out of pocket depending on what I have done. I just can't come to terms of the enormous risk associated with traditional fusions. Their website is

    I am interested in what others have to say regarding their technique.
    mellycooper replied to Anon_160307's response:
    No, it is not the Laser Spine Institute! I heard very bad things about them; they are a big machine from what I heard and read on the Internet. I went in and they didn't seem to care about me, just wanted to get me into surgery to get my money. I'm going to the Bonati Institute. Much classier people and not a massive facility where they just shuttle you through. The doctors are very skilled there! The laser surgery you mentioned is what they do.
    Trying to figure things out!
    Anon_160307 replied to mellycooper's response:
    Hi mellycooper,

    I wrote a longer reply that didn't post. So in summary I wanted to say that I just started researching the laser spine institute yesterday. I am in so much pain right now. I have been told I need a two level lumbar fusion from L4 to S1. I told them flat out no way because if I end up completely disabled and unable to work that would be devastating to my family as I am the sole breadwinner. They told me a discectomy at the L4-L5 level would at least get the disc tissue off of my nerve roots from the ruptured disc. I wanted to wait 1-2 years as I am 6 months post op. I hate general anesthesia and how it makes me feel afterwards. I don't like being pumped with that propofol stuff at all!!!

    My meds and epidural steroid injections eliminated my pain by about 95-98% until Wed. afternoon. The pins and needles sensation came back in my right leg and I have pulsating throbbing just below the left knee and in my buttocks, hips, and lower back which all of those areas are burning as well. My last epidural injection was at the end of April and I can't get another one until August! That is a long time to wait given that my meds are not covering the pain either!

    I feel a little better today. I apply a fresh Fentanyl patch this evening and I pray that it brings the pain back down. I have been out of work on FMLA disability leave since Thurs. and I think not having to bend and twist in the bathroom to get ready for work has helped. I plan on requesting a permanent work from home schedule when I am able to make it back in there in hopes I can control it better given the flexibility.

    I will definitely research the Bonati Institute. I don't know where I will land...laser surgery or conventional discectomy surgery under general anesthesia. But I need to get consistency and FAST!

    Please let us know how your surgery goes. Wishing you the best.
    Anon_160307 replied to Anon_160307's response:
    Well all. I have decided laser spine surgery is not for me at this time. I found a lot negative information online about the laser spine institute from reputable sites like newsweek and bloomberg. The doctors are in it for the money...they are doing like 80 surgeries a day and they have double the national average when it comes to malpractice lawsuits.

    One person had two arteries severely severed by the laser and after he got up from the procedure and said he didn't feel well they told him to hurry up and get dressed so he could leave. He ended up passing out and woke in a nearby hospital - he almost bled to death!!

    The have had cases where the spinal cord was accidently punctured. There was another case where one person had to have an emergency 3 level fusion after the endoscopic spine procedure went bad. And they were once cited for using un-sterile equipement.

    These are all cases of people that ended up filing malpractice lawsuits. I uncovered that the Bonati institute is a little better in terms of reputation but not too far from the unethical practices at the Laser Spine Institute.

    The procedure itself is great if done right and for some conditions of the spine but not all. Many weren't told this and the procedure made them worse. The procedure could have more successful outcomes if they weren't rushing around and having less than stellar doctors performing the procedures (one patient said that her doctor looked impaired and later on the patient did a county search and found that he was arrested for a DUI three weeks after the procedure).

    They spend $100,000 per month advertising on Google, which is why their adds pop up so frequently. They want $15K to $30K down initially with reinbursement afterwards and many people never got reinbursed what they were supposed to.

    To each their own, but for me, I am going to pursue (very slowly and cautiously) a laminectomy/discectomy through the teaching hospital that does all of my other spine treatments.

    Mellycooper, please update us on how you are doing! I am thinking about you and I hope things went well and that you are doing okay.
    mellycooper replied to Anon_160307's response:
    Anon, I'm sorry things didn't work out for you. My surgery went so well. They actually did conscious anesthesia, which made me a little nervous at first, but like you, I don't like to be knocked out either! They did this so I could assist them in saying if I have any pain, which means they are getting near nerves and important stuff with the laser. I helped them help me by telling them when they were hurting me so they didn't cut any nerves. I had a decompression done on L5-S1 and the surgery only took 45 minutes, and I left on my own after an hour. It was amazing how fast I felt better! After 15 minutes in the recovery room, I told my husband to let me drive home! I was worried about a scar too, but their incision is so small, it looks like nothing. Maybe a half inch little scratch on my back. You can't even notice it. I am so happy with my procedure and recommend it to anyone. The doctors at Bonati were so great and even called me the next day to make sure I was still feeling better. Thanks for helping me along my journey everyone! Relief feels so good!
    Trying to figure things out!
    davedsel57 replied to mellycooper's response:
    Just an FYI: It is against the rules in all WebMD communities to mention doctors or medical facilities by name. Your post could be deleted if a moderator catches that.
    Click on my user name or avatar picture to read my story.


    Anon_160307 replied to mellycooper's response:
    Hi mellycooper!!

    It is so great to hear from you and to hear that you had great results from the Bonati Institute. I haven't given up hope with the laser spine institute. They have been trying to call me for the past two days and I keep missing their calls. I am going to keep my phone glued to me tomorrow though. I did read that there was only 15 malpractice suits out of 7500 which isn't horribly bad otherwise they wouldn't still be in business. There are risks with all procedures, right? Some are more riskier than others...for sure.

    It is truly great to hear that you are feeling better and that endoscopic spine surgery worked for you! On the voicemail, they told me that my insurance checked out and that they have great news! I sure hope they do! I plan to think it over until late July and decide then. I wish the Bonati Institute had more facilities...they only have one in FL which is too far for us. If I decide on endoscopic spine surgery, we will be driving to the surgical facility in Scottsdale, AZ.

    Please keep me posted on how your recovery is doing. I know you must be on cloud 9 right now. I sure would be. I'll keep you posted on my pursuits as well. You know, I didn't think seriously about laser surgery until I saw your post. Now I am seriously considering it.

    You take care and try to take it easy for at least 2 weeks is what I read.

    Chris_WebMD_Staff replied to davedsel57's response:
    Good Morning,

    Medical facilities are OK to talk about. We just do not allow members to recommend doctors by name. Thank you for this important reminder Dave.
    Chrissy~ WebMD Staff

    Confucius Say;
    Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

    mellycooper replied to Chris_WebMD_Staff's response:
    I'm sorry Chris! I guess I should actually read all of those long agreements terms before just clicking okay. LOL. Anon, I hope you end up doing well and find your relief. I feel like a million bucks!
    Trying to figure things out!

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