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Does ACDF have any success?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone,

I am due to have a fusion at C7 and possibly a ADR at C6 in the new year. Reading many peoples experiences here on the forum with ACDF there doesn't seem to be much success??

I feel for you guys who are having trouble and pain reoccurrence after your initial surgeries. It makes me wonder is it worth it? I like my sports although unable to do much at the moment I fear for a never ending problem from having fusion.

Is there anyone out there who has had success years on from cervical fusion? Has anyone managed to get there life back or feel actually fitter and stronger than ever from opting for surgery?

In my brief meeting with the surgeon, he advised that a fusion would make my neck stronger than ever? He also advised a domino effect on other discs, vertebrae would occur when I mentioned that I had read a lot about people having to go back for more surgery having ACDF.

I would love to hear if anyone has had anything positive from ACDF?

I would also like to hear from people who did have issues too in order to help me decide my best options.

Thanks guys


MRI results:

There is movement artifact on several of the sequences. Alignment maintained but there is loss of the cervical lordosis.
There is a partial fusion of the posterior aspect of the bodies of C7 and T1. Degenerative disk disease is seen above this level.
At C5/C6 there is a broad disk osteophyte bar more prominent on the right but with narrowing of both exit formina again more prominent on the right. Canal dimensions are adequate.
At C6/C7 there is again a broad disk osteophyte bar with narrowing of both exit formina but adequate canal dimensions.

2 Months of PT

Meds: Diclofenac, Co-Drydamol, Tramadol, Ibruprofen, Co-Codamol & Parecetomol


  • I consider my ACDF a success, although I still have pain (probably from non-fusion at C6/7) and muscle spasms. But my pre-op symptoms were so severe they were debilitating and I no longer experience them.

    One thing to keep in mind is that most members that have had a successful surgery (ACDF or otherwise) move on to live their life and don't post here because they no longer need the support that's given on the forums. I have quite a few "buddys" that are long gone due to a successful surgery. Some of us stick around to help people, but most move on. So, the forums is in no way a measure of how successful spine surgery is.

    Was my ACDF worth it? Absolutely. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    Good luck with what you decide. What type of symptoms are you having?

  • Yep, I'm a success story. I had a one-level C5-6 ACDF done on 3/24/09. Six weeks later I was back to work without a hitch. I could have easily gone back sooner, but was enjoying my paid time off.

    By 4 months, my doctor said I should be fusing at a good rate. Well, at 4 months I saw the doctor, got an xray, and he said I was completely (100%) fused! He took me off all restrictions for activities...no limit!

    And I've been great ever since. The tingling and ache in my fingers is gone, my neck muscles feel much much much better, and I really think my hearing is a bit better.

    The only negative I can say is that my immune system suffered... I ended-up with bronchitis and shingles right after surgery. But it apparently didn't stop me from fusing!
  • I have pretty much the same mri results as you - and the bulge and ostephytes are pushing into the canal/fluid that the spinal cord is in - but i have been refused surgery....go figure.

    I am currently on my 6th round of pt....I hope that your surgery goes well - update us all -

    take care
  • I had an ACDF at C5/6 and C6/7 in July and am really glad I did it. I had experienced upper back and neck pain over a period of many years which then turned to tingling and numbness in my left arm for the past eight years. The numbness is now totally gone. I was back to work at three weeks and at my six week checkup, my doctor cleared me for all activities except lifting very heavy objects over my head. My range of motion doesn't feel that much different. I just can't bend my head down as far. I was very pleasantly surprised by my results.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    I've had 2 two level ACDFs (C4/C5,C5/C6 and C6/C7)
    I would say that both were 100% successful. Yes, I have had problems since those surgeries (1996 and 2000), but I can attribute those problems to me doing something I should not have been doing.

    When anyone is face with spinal surgery, doesnt matter which spinal region:

    1 - Do everything you should be doing up to your surgery.
    2 - Do everything you were told to do during your recovery period.
    3 - Do everything you were told you can do and do NOT do things you were told not to.

    Sounds simple? it is, if you follow those rules.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I just had Prodisc-c installed on Fri. the 6th. I have no pain, I can move my head and all the pain I had in my right arm is gone.... I sleep Great with no pain pills.... C5-C6
  • I had almost 9 pain free months after my 3 level ACDF so I thought it was a success. Been having some pain again so I am not sure whats going on yet the surgeon has ordereda myelogram and we'll take it from there. I still don't regret (yet) having the surgery!
  • My neurosurgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists do not recommend ACDF because it is a "man-made" fusion. Once you have "natural fusion" apparently the pain goes away. I'm going to wait for natural fusion so long as I can tolerate the pain - which is very difficult at times, but I don't want to make things worse. Good luck!
  • How can it be man made fusion if it is using autograft bone. I would think helping it stay in alignment and not letting the facets jump and building spurs maybe a better way to go. Not to mention while your waiting for that auto fusion the bone can be very ridgit so If you were say in a minor accident and it broke seems to me you maybe in lots of trouble with bone floating near the cord or perhaps into the cord. I think I will stick with my surgeons methodology of using autograft bone.
  • i will be hitting my one year mark since my level 2 acdf. i dealt with arm pains and numbness for years. not knowing the problem was my neck. by then it was too late to do anything but the surgery due to having 50% cord compression. had surgery. went back to work 3months later as a mailman. started working out again. running on a soccer field as a ref. the pains are gone and i feel great!! am i 100%? no, but is anybody? you just have to stay positive. is every surgery on here a success? no! everyone is different. what i will say is if i wasnt in shape before surgery. it probably would have taken longer for recovery. like most have said on here if you follow the doctors on how to recover you should be fine. even after a year i still only lift 35 lbs or less unless im on my weight bench for support. i dont do quick movements. i do the basic things in life to stay healthy and safe. no sled riding,water skiing,wrestling, etc.... get the picture.In the end it is your decision not anyone in here. i was already in recovery when i found this site. i actually met 30+ people in the my area with same surgery to make my decision. out of those 30+ people only 2-3 had negative feedback.(1 was my sister who said i would never work again or do anything! i proved her wrong!) so the odds were pretty good i would recover fine. and i did!!

  • Wow,

    Thanks guys that is really encouraging reading some of your positive experiences, and thanks too for the reassurance advice.

    I know I have to have something done, like I think it was SCOTTPW25 who is the pilot, I can sympathize with his hesitation in going for surgery when his pain signs diminish. I too have varied pain, there is always a little tingling but I haven't had sever pain in a while. I do know though that when I exert myself in the day I am overcome with fatigue, I still do a little very light jogging for a short distance, though tiredness all the time isn't natural. I used to only require the normal hours rest and have energy, coffee, vitamins, sugar and rest all have no effect since this bought.

    Apart from what I was told I had on my MRI I have an awful rattling of bones in my left shoulder which I can literally clip off each other especially sitting down, I am assuming it has something to do with the spinal problems??? I have pre assessment X-rays to undertake so I am going to try and get the shoulder covered too to see if it is related or something separate. Anyone any ideas or similar experience.??

    I have finally set my mind on ACDF at level 7 and ADR at 6 if the option is still on. I am just curious about my pain at about 3 and 4 these days, two weeks ago I would have crawled to the operating table, I would be interested in hearing on people who have still went for surgery with minimal pain.

    Thanks again everyone

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