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Upcoming ACDF surgery... terrified

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

Hello everyone- new here.

Long story short I've suffered from neck issues for years. In December of 2008 the physiatrist that I've been seeing at the neurosurgeon's office referred me to one of their surgeons.

I met with him- he came highly recommended and suggested that I'm a great candidate for a study where they are comparing the results of traditional ACDH surgery with that of an artifical cervical disc. It's a random 50/50 shot and I won't know what I get until after the surgery.

Anyone been involved with one of these studies?

I'm terrified of the surgery in general- hearing horror stories of the choking sensation not going away, losing strngth and feeling in limbs and generally being worse of post op than pre op...

I'd appreciate some input because right now I just don't know what to do...




  • I can understand what you are going through. I too was very nervous befor my op. It was tough with the swallowing issues, but that wen away for the most part 6-8 weeks later.
    I really didnt question doing the surgery or not because I was ready to get better or die, and dying was starting to look like some relief.
    I have gotten a great deal better post op and am glad I had it done. Go into the surgery with the mindset that you will never be the same but its a chance to get better.
    Good Luck

  • Welcome to Spine-Health. There are very supportive and knowledgable people here.

    I was terrified before my surgery too, but like most neckies, discovered that the anticipation was worse than the surgery itself.

    There are a lot of posts here from people that are looking for support after a difficult or failed ACDF surgery, but please understand that many people that have successful surgeries leave SH because they no longer need support. They've moved on with their lives and rightly so. That's the nature of a support group forum, I suppose.

    Again, welcome to Spine-Health and we're glad you joined. Please keep us posted. Feel free to PM me if you have questions or just want to talk.
  • I am just over 6 wks post op ACDF C5-6-7. My surgery went very smoothly. Yes, my throat was sore & swollen for a while but I was able to drink shortly after surgery & had soft food the next day. I think mine lasted maybe 2 weeks but I was eating regular food after a couple days. I did not have ANY nausea.

    I did not have nerve pain before surgery so I can't comment on that. The numbness & tingling in my extremities has improved. PT is helping a lot with my muscle pain (I had that pre op). My ROM is as good as or better than pre op.

    Overall, I am very happy with the results. My surgeon said I may continue to improve up to a year post op. I had some cord damage so I may not get back 100%. My PT & doc also feel that some of my symptoms (lower extremities) may not have been entirely caused by cervical issues but something lower in my spine. My lumbar MRI did not look too bad though. Regardless, I am feeling well & plan on returning to work on May 25th.

    Good luck with your surgery. Ask anything on here & someone will be able to help. Hope everything goes well for you.
  • Welcome and you are correct there is a great deal of experience. I am 11 days post op. I saw a NS on 4/30/09 and my surgery (Fused C5-C6 and C6-C7, using the lab grown disc to replace the the previous ones), I was concerned as well but all in all I can not express enough REST, REST, REST. I tried to do too much too soon and have paid for it. I called my NS and explained what I was doing and he let me know, walk is all he wants me doing. This is however the only surgery that I have had that I have had to rest this much and I have had my Jaw joints on both sides replaced. It is a different pain that prior to surgery. Things I took hospital that helped most, my own pillow for the trip home, chap stick, sinus medicine, lotion of my own. I will put you in with all the others here for a quick low pain surgery. Namaste lisalee
  • Cath111's quote: "...the anticipation was worse than the surgery itself" was exactly right concerning me. I blew a couple discs and was very nervous beforehand. Reading many of these threads help A LOT.

    When I awoke from surgery (in the room, I don't recall the post-surgery room at all), I had some pain. The pain caused by the blown discs was GONE. Just a sore throat mainly. No nauseau. I do have a slight case of feeling like something is caught in my throat, and look foward to it going away.

    My neurosurgeon is very conservative and insists I wear my neck brace 24/7. Gah! I have another brace just for the shower. The only time I cheat is when I eat. I take it off since it enterfers with my jaw movement.

    I've never been involved with such a study that you're in. But chin up, and read through these forums. Yeah, many didn't do well, but MANY OF US HAVE!

    Hang in there!
  • Worrying about the surgery almost made me chicken out. But I had my ACDF at 3 levels in January and do not regret it at all. I am doing fine pain free. Being scared is very very normal. I had nightmares of me running down the hallways of the hospital. I have been there and know exactly how you feel if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.
  • Had my 2 level ACDF 5 weeks ago now and I feel better than ever! No more pain running down my arm constantly and the carpal tunnel has even greatly improved. I'm driving, going to work and am pretty much doing everything I did before (except maybe that Exorcist move I was trying to master lol).

    It's a big decision, and I had to go through a lot of pain/discomfort post-surgery to get to this point, but I'm very glad I did it. I just realized that it wasn't going to get better by itself, so might as well get it over with. That choking sensation is nearly gone, the only remaining issue is that I can no longer strongly sing some notes that I used too. Must be the moving of the throat. The scar is very thin. I consider this all very minor when compared to how I felt before surgery.

    They gave me valium before surgery, so I took 2 before I left for the hospital and don't remember much. I barely remember them putting the IV in and wheeling me into the OR. When I woke up I kept asking what the NS said. I was out of the hospital by 11 AM the next day.

    I would want to know from the doctor what the differences between the two surgeries was.

    Shannon said it best...at least you are giving yourself a shot to get better than you are now!

  • Hey Julez,
    I have been researching some on the artificial disc. I am sure there are lots of people that can give you info on that. I had my ACDF in May 2007 and unfortunately mine hasnt fused and I am looking at another surgery soon. I was also told it was a 50/50 shot for my pain level to go down but that I needed the surgery. Do research and ask the docs lots of questions. I still feel like I have a little pocket in my throat sometimes when I swallow, but nothing like the first week or so after surgery. Regardless of which surgery you decide on, just make sure to have some chloraseptic with you at the hospital. If not, they should give you some. It worked wonders for me, and someone on this site had suggested I take it with me. Good luck

  • Am I the only weirdo that wasn't scared about surgery? The pre-op nurse offered valium, I said no thanks. When I was wheeled into the OR, my neuro asked how I was feeling, told him "Great! Let's get this party started!"

    I'm a sick, sick puppy. :)

    When I woke up and realized my hands, wrists and arms didn't hurt for the first time in years, I was thrilled. Still doing well, 7 month post-op, had my final visit with the neuro 3 weeks ago.

  • I guess the worst part was the waiting for the surgery to be done and over with. I scheduled mine about 5 weeks in advance to give work a heads up. Wouldn't say I was scared just wanted to move on to healing!

  • I had a very easy time with my surgery. I had an allergic reation to the patch thing they put over my incision but other than that, I was up walking that evening. I spent a few days just eating popsicles, applesauce, yogurt and slimfast. After that it was just little bites of food. My swelling is almost gone and my pain is gone as well. My neck muscles are kind of in revolt at the moment from weaning off the brace but that is what PT is for. Nothing like the pain I was in previously.

    Keep positive. There are always risks with surgery but it will be ok. We're all here to help!

  • ...for the same surgery next week, and I'm actually looking forward to it...I've dealt with pain and neurological issues for years, so I see this as my best shot at improvement, maybe even feeling "good" again.

    I hate hospitals, but I imagine once the drugs kick in on the OR table, I won't really care...
  • I am scheduled for ACDF4-5-6 Aug. 18th. I am 59, overweight and smoke. Odds for recovery do not look good do they? Anyone else similar? I am also on unemployment (layoff) and may not be able to collect because I will not be available for work. Anyone know? I still have insurance until Oct. but sure need to receive a check. Not too many problems, right? Sure could use some advice.
    Lady O
  • I had the atificial disc around 3 months ago, I have no choking or sore thoat at all, in fact same day I ate a full roast dinner :)

    from what i have read the recovery is quicker with the artificial disc and the results can be better, BUT the downside is the disc may only last 20 years or so but there is no way to fully know. I just thought oh well 20 years of pain free is good for me and then I will need it replaced again! I am only 35 so having a good quality of life to do sports was important. I would always ask about the artificial disc vs fusion to your surgeon!!!!!!!! im 100% pain free and back to normal after just 3 months.
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