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Incomplete Fusion posterioroly at ACDF Hardware level

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a discectomy and fusion at C3-C4 nearly 18 months ago. There was significant improvement over the first 6-8 months then levelled off to mild pain. Over the past 6 months I have been in significant pain and am basically close to where I was prior to the surgery. I have been told previously everything looks normal.

I got a CT scan and one of the things mentioned is an incomplete fusion posteriorly at the implant.

Is that normal after a such a long period of time?
Would that cause my pain?


  • Welcome to Spine Health! You came to the right place for support and sharing experiences. Your questions are quite legitimate but you should pose them to the surgeon who performed your surgery. He/She is the one who could tell you what is going on, as we are not medically trained people, plus we don't know any of your past history. What I know is that sudden pain 18 months after surgery should be investigated. Who ordered your CT scan? Try to get a follow-up appointment, and take it from there.

    Good luck, and let us know what happened.

  • I picked up the report at the hospital, am waiting for the doctor to call to set up the appointment to go over with him. Just hoping to get some insight prior to the weekend.

  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    an incomplete fusion (non-union) or psuedo arthrosis is not the desired outcome of a fusion. The goal or "normal" would be complete fusion. I find it interesting that they would consider non-union to be "Normal" .... maybe find another group of doctors to work with because no one like to admit that their outcome was not a complete victory over disease.

    And yes .... that could be the cause of your pain.

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • Seeking another doctor is what I have done and this is how this new revelation came up, the new doctor had me go to another hospital and get all new tests done from scratch. Unfortunately he is very good and I can't get in again to see him for 6 weeks to discuss this report.

    So maybe the pain isn't in my head, just a pain in the neck (pun intented)!

    Thank you
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Yes, you can find out years later that a fusion is not complete. This was the case with my lumbar fusion in 87 that later was re-done in 93.

    I didn't have that problem with my ACDF but did have further stenosis about 18 months later where all the symptoms returned. They did a CT Myelogram as a regular CT and and MRI did not show enough detail. Turns out I had stenosis and bone spurs that I had fixed via a posterior foraminotomy. It worked about 80%.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi sdesan. I believe that indeed nonfusion in the cervical spine can cause pain because I'm in the same boat.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF w/hardware (C4/5,5/6,6/7) just over a year ago and my neck pain has been increasing steadily ever since. My latest x-ray (about two months ago) showed movement at the C6/7 level which means it hasn't fused completely and I was told that's what's causing my neck pain. I have to go back to my surgeon in December and if I'm still having pain, they'll want to go back in posteriorly and put in a cage.

    Please keep us updated.
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