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Surgery performed was a bi-lateral re-section of both L5 transverse processes. The left side was entirely fused to S1 while the right appeared to be partial.

I am a 38 yr. old male, 5'10" 200lbs and fit. I've always been very active and had been experiencing increasing low back pain for the last 16 years along with popping and grinding. I had a steroid injection about sixteen years in my left low back and basically had ignored the symptoms since then. I recently got good health insurance and a supportive wife that encouraged me to pursue treatment. I did some research based on a lumbar x-ray that indicated an anomalous articulation. The symptomology of Bertolotti's syndrome fit my experience and I thought that this might be the cause of my pain. (I found this study to provide good information, reply to this post with your email if you want me to send you the .pdf_ Ugokwe, Chen, Klineberg & Steinmetz. (2008). Minimally Invasive Surgical Treatment Of Bertolotti's Syndrome: Case Report. Operative Neurosurgery 2, Volume 62, May.)

I'm glad I did my homework_ I was able to get an appt. with a local orthopedic back surgeon. I first had to see his Physician’s Assistant. She reviewed my MRI, saw no anomalies and wanted to send me to physical therapy. I insisted that I needed a CT scan and that I wanted to see the doctor. Fortunately he was familiar with the condition and agreed with my prognosis. What was not apparent in an MRI was blatant in the CT scan_ point being, you must advocate for your health. I'm lucky that the Dr. I saw has performed about 12 surgeries for Bertolotti's.

 

The surgery took about two hours and was minimally invasive, which means he made two incisions on either side of my spine, moved the muscle out of the way and ground the bone out until the structures were anatomically correct. It has been about a week since the surgery and everything has improved drastically. First, my sleep has never been better and I wake up well rested; I didn’t even realize how bad it was before. My mobility is also much better, just feels like there is more room in my low back. Most of all, my low back muscles aren’t all locked up and sore like they used to be. I look forward to the surgery site healing so that I can know what it is going to be like to have a mechanically functioning low back.

Reply to this post with any questions and I’ll try to answer them.

Good luck.

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 Hi

Good to hear your surgery was successful so far and I hope you see a massive improvement once you are all healed.

I was diagnosed with Bertolotti syndrome a year ago, both of my L5 transverse processes are fused to my S1 so my pain specialist recommended i try a facet joint injection, this didn't work so i underwent 2 sacro-illiac joint injections whichout any luck. I pushed for another MRI scan as I felt my back had got a lot worse (the pain started to get unbearable 4 years ago), the latest results has shown a bulging/prolapsed disc and the disc below is quite worn. My specialist has basically said i need to live with it as the only thing i could have done is the fusion which is likely to wear the discs above.

I have an appointment at St Thomas Hospital in London to attend their pain management clinic but apart from that i have no idea what else to do. I don't think i can just live with it as some days the pain is crimpling.

I was interested to hear about your surgery as to me (not being a doctor) thought if this is what is causing the pain why can't it be removed!

I would be grateful if you could send me the PDF.

Many thanks

Michelle

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Please post who your surgeon's name is. I think it would be helpful to many who read this thread. Thank you very much.
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I would like to know where your surgery took place or the name of the physician. I am a 58 year old very fit female 5'8". I was diagnosed at Lahey Clinic in Burlington with Bertolotti's in 2008. I have always had slightly bowed legs but now I feel that the condition is worsening and my legs are constantly aching. My lower back is wound as tight as i believe it can be. Reading your post has given me hope because it sounds like you are doing well and on the way to recovery. The doctor that diagnosed my condition did not offer any surgery options at the time. My husband and I enjoy traveling and one of our three children lives in Europe with his new wife, I find travel difficult because of this condition, but I am in no way ready to sit it out. There has to be a remedy and I think that you just provided it.

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How are you improving post surgery. I underwent a similar surgery in Aug of 2011. I seemed to have an increase in SI pain but my back was much better. About 6 months ago I started to decline. My pain level is back to pre surgery and I am miserable. I am nervous to go see my specialist, I know he is going to do steriod injections. FYI- I am 31yrs old, female, 5' 10", & 200lbs.
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My daughter is 16 and was diagnosed with Bertolotti's syndrome a year ago. I took her to her pediatric dr and after X-rays he referred her out for scoliosis. Saying that she shouldn't be having such severe pain from scoliosis. The pediatric orthopedic surgeon we were referred to had more X-rays and an MRI ran. The diagnosis was Bertolotti's syndrome. My daughter did 8 wks of physical therapy to ease the pain with no relief. She then moved onto injections, in which she has only had one, but it did nothing. This week she has started complaining of her foot going to sleep. I have called the dr, but he is out of the office for 3 days. I am scared surgery is in her near future. She will be a senior in high school next year and just wonder straight from someone who has gone through it, what is the recovery period? I know it is patient based and not always the same. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
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I am also 38 yrs old and experiencing very similar symptoms for about 2 years now. How are you doing now? How is your recovery going? Are you fully functional and able to be active and exercise? Who was the surgeon that performed your surgery and what did the CT scan pick up that the MRI missed? Many thanks!!!!
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Hi Mmm,

Thanks for the post, I found it extremely useful. I have been diagnosed with query Bertolotti's but the doctors seem to be obsessed with facet joint/sacroiliac joint injections here in the UK and to almost no avail as is apparent from some of the posts below. Could you please let me know where you had your treatment and what the name of the doctor was?

Thanks a bunch!
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Hi, I've just diagnosed with this syndrome, and I would like to know how are you doing with your pain after the surgery? I am thinking of talking with specialist and go through some kind of surgery to get rid of this pain. Thank you!
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Who performed your surgery, I am desperate to find a surgeon.
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Hi I am 27, and have suffered sin ce I was 19 with this, Mine is only the right side but have chronic pain almost everyday. How is your full recovery since this post? Please let me know if this Doctor is in the cleveland clinic Ohio, I live in florida but I am willing to travel anywhere for a good physician with experience in this. Thank you soo much
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I've been diagnosed w/bertolottis syndrome. I've had killer low back, is joint pain on my left side. I also have MS, but the Ms is a walk in the park compared to the chronic pain from the bertolottis. Could you send me the PDF of the study, and also how you are doing since your surgery. Thank you! 

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I'm a 24 yr old female 5'5 115 llbs.

I have Bertolotti's syndrome and been seeing a doctor for about a year now. I'm in so much pain constantly. I've had injections & am on medication. I feel as if i'm too young to have surgery but not sure how much longer i can take this pain!!

The main reason i'm writing is because my doctor always says "& the pain is not moving down your legs, right?" well it started to this week and it is unbearable!! but since he says that as if its a terrible thing, i'm really worried. does anyone know what it means if the pain moves down your legs? please respond!!

All of you will be in my prayers, i hate there is so many people that feel the pain i feel daily.

 

thank you!

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Hi, I'm in my early 30's and started feeling the back pain about 9 months ago. The leg pain started about 3 months ago though. It's scary I know but the only thing that's helps the back is my E-stim. I have gone through injections, therapy, pain management, etc. it's horrible I know but hang in there. I'm trying to find a doctor to do the resection. The only thing I can think of for the leg pain is either nerve entrapment or your body is adjusting mechanically to guard for pain. When this happens your gait pattern is thrown out of wack and certain muscles are over working. I have researched this syndrome religiously and I work in the health care industry.

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I would like to know if how you are doing since recovery. I have been diagnosed but can not seem to get a doctor to do the surgery in my area. Employment has been up and down so when ever I have insurance I try to get the surgery but dr always drags his feet and does everything but what I ask for, which is to grind down or excise the elongated transverse process which is clearly rubbing on my sacrum in MRI scans. Need to get this done as I am in constant pain, and do want to take pain killers anymore.
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