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So relieved, but still doubtful!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Saw the surgeon today, and he strongly recommended ACDF for my C5-6. I was so relieved to have gotten such a firm recommendation, rather than some wishy-washy "I'm willing to do it, you might be better". So the positiveness and his confidence made me feel good. BUT, whoa, do I want to put myself through that? Is it really that bad (you can tell I'm having a few good days...)? Why didn't I ask more questions about disc replacement instead of straight out fusion? That was mentioned, but as not covered would cost me an extra $10k. Why wasn't it till later that I think more clearly - I could find those $, so would the outcome be better and warrant it?

I've been sent away to think about it. Guess I'll be back with more questions.


  • I know what you mean dancer. I want an answer/solution to my pain so I can only imagine how happy you were to hear the doctor say "this is it".

    2 months ago I had shoulder surgery because that would take care of my pain. Ortho was certain. Well guess what - he opened it up and found it wasn't as bad as he thought. Now I'm still in pain and looking for an answer. I wonder if that surgery was really necessary. In my case I rushed into it because no-fault insurance wanted to cut me off.

    Hopefully your surgeon is really certain. You might want to get another opinion before surgery. Also write down those questions and don't be afraid to ask.

    I was waiting for a spine surgeon a few weeks ago and heard him talking to another patient. He walked in and said to her "you need surgery - Mary here will schedule". He had her booked for the next week in about 5 minutes. I could tell she was stunned but they swept her along.

    I don't want to scare you but you have doubts. So ask those questions, get another opinion and don't do anything until you are comfortable.

    Good Luck !!
  • i agree with the above post, i would get a second opinion before going ahead, good luck and hope things work out ok
  • Thanks Kris. Wow, "you need surgery - Mary here will schedule" whoa! Though my surgeon is quite clearly confident that surgery is the way to go, and is confident I will get benefit, he wasn't so pushy, and definately didn't try and schedule me there and then. He just told me to go and think about it, get another opinion if I like. He was open to questions, I just didn't think of them till I left!

    And the fact that when I saw him 2 years ago he was in favour of conservative treatments has me believing he isn't the type to just want to go straight to the knife.

    But yes, got a lot of thinking to do. Nice big list of risks. I've always been risk-averse. Quite hard to take this plunge. At least I don't have to rush into it. I know that even though I look like a good candidate, there is a chance I could end up worse off. And of course the surgeon didn't try to deny that.

  • i answered your first post. you mentioned another cervical disk bulging...what did surgeon say about that one. you also said your surgeon was well respected...sounds like he's the guy. i'd ask surgeon how long this fusion would last before another one needed...just so you have estimate of future.
  • I always find it helpful to write questions down before meeting with the doctors. Seems I always loose track I what I want to ask. Usually the doc will say something then, after I leave I have more questions, as to what he/she just said. Here is a link that maybe helpful to you in formulating some questions that may help. I really don't have a answer for you on artificial disc replacement(ADR), vs fusion. They just haven't been done long enough to have the long term effects of them. Some may look at the ones being done in Germany and say the evidence suggest they are better. Keep in mind the rules for reporting success or failure or not as stringent as the USA guide lines. As your surgeon suggest about getting the second opinion, I always suggest that patients get a second opinion. If anything it will give you the comfort you need in doing the surgery. Just make sure the second opinion is not affiliated with the first surgeon, so it is a true second opinion. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Facing surgery is pretty scary, but you have to think, how badly is your pain affecting your quality of life? If it will help, even a little, then life would be that much better, right?
    I agree, write all your questions down, just don't forget your list when you go to your appointment, lol!!!
    There are other, less invasive surgeries than fusions, as well. Maybe you could ask your surgeon about them, and if that would be an option? If you type in minimally invasive surgeries in the search engine, you'll find links to the articles on them.
    I had an anterior foraminotomy, and all he did was trim the herniated and protruding disc matter, and shaved down the osteophyte complexes. I woke up in recovery with no shoulder, arm and hand pain, and no numbness and tingling. I was nervous ahead of time, too, but now have absolutely no regrets, because my quality of life is that much better for having it done. There's also laminectomy or discectomy, which I believe are less invasive than a fusion that you could research. Anyways, it's just something more to ask about (just don't forget to write it down!!! lol)
    Good luck!!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Thanks all.

    My symptoms have been better the past week, so I'm procrastinating over returning to see the surgeon. But am writing all my questions down for when I do. Dr thought the less invasive options would only achieve a half-baked job, and likely he wouldn't be able to get to the osteophytes from behind.

    Pete - same disc. Just has osteophytes now, whereas just bulging disk 2.5 yrs ago. And he reckons my other discs look fine, so may never need another (though mri report seems to differ in opinion a bit). Ha, think that's probably a bit optimistic! My physio reckons my very flat thoracic spine helps load up my neck. And since it was not caused by a particular accident, just out of the blue, then it seems I'm predisposed to neck issues so I'm not as optimistic as he is. Even if he is supposed to be the expert.

    On a completely vain, least of my worries note, how bad is the scar?! :-) Just not so good for the dancing you see. Though there's always make up :-)

  • Hi Dancer. I had ACDF level C6-C7 July 22. My scar is about 1 1/2 inches and many say they can't tell it is there. The doctor tries to put it in a spot that might already have a crease, line, etc. I've seen a few relatives that have had the same surgery and after a while you really can't see it at all unless you search for it. It is so much better than the very long ones up my back and across my tummy from the lumbar fusion, lamenectomy, and now the added SCS scars! Good luck with the decisions are you are making. Diane
  • Well, the surgeon did say he'd cut into my nice unlined neck! I think that it's inevitable it will be visible for a while, since my neck's nice and long and I'm a bit young for many wrinkles to blend in with, LOL! Nice to know it fades. But really, that should be the least of my worries I suppose.

    You certainly have a collection of war wounds! Short straw to get Crohns as well. My cousin has it. I only have to put up with IBS thankfully. Stress and pain of neck issues don't help it terribly, but at least it's not life threatening.
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