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fusion at c6 c7 any advise please

miss grumpymmiss grumpy Posts: 107
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
hi, im about to have a anterior fusion with cage at c6 c7, my surgeon is a man of few words, :/ can anyone tell me what exactly this means and what is the average recovery rate,im completely in the dark. this all startd with a herniated disk 2 years ago, since then my right arm has got weaker,my hand is numb im now also experiencing numbness in my left hand and strange pins and needles in my feet. the surgeon wrote urgent on my med forms?
would love to view any comments. :)


  • Hi,

    It sounds as though you are having a ACDF anterior cervical disctomy and fusion with hardware. Basically they will make a incision in the front of your neck and move a few things out of the way then the surgeon will take out the herniated disc and put in some type of bone grafting material. The bone grafting material can be allograft(cadaver bone), autograft(your bone), or a synthetic form of bone or a combination. When all done they will add the hardware in. Total time for the surgery about a hour to a hour and half. When you wake in recovery you may feel some what of a sore throat and you may not. I have had anterior surgery a few times. I was actually eating a sandwich after one of my surgeries, another one I just preferred some soft food. More than likely you will be released the next day if there are no complications. Depending on what the surgeon finds you may have a collar or hard brace or no brace at all. For myself and I think many here the worst part of the procedure was the muscle spasms. The positioning in surgery can cause a lot of those. When you get home for the first few days be sure and take your medicine as prescribed, once you feel comfortable you maybe able to start weaning off of them. But each person is different. Keep in mind sometimes people having Neck surgery typically will feel better and start over doing it, and they get set backs in the recovery. So keep in mind while your physical scar have healed your body is still recovering on the inside. Some of the most important things you can do is walk, maintain good posture and drink plenty of water.

    I hope this helps explain some of it to you. Don't be afraid to call your surgeon back and ask question of you have them. It is natural to have some fears regarding surgery and you should feel comfortable enough to ask your surgeon questions. Also you can watch the animated video here regarding this surgery. If I can be of any further help, don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • Hello,

    It's so frustrating whenever you have a surgeon who doesn't explain the surgery and what is involved. I had the same problem myself. I researched alot of info on the web before I decided to have the surgery, even the MRI medical "lingo" they use so that I could understand what it all meant.

    Has this surgeon followed up with your care since your herniation 2 years ago and have you had a recent MRI revealing any changes that would suggest that you need to have surgery? Is there compression on your spinal cord? That could be the reason he wrote "urgent" for you to have surgery. If your herniation is compressing your spinal cord, you have a risk of becoming paralyzed or having permanent nerve damage.

    In most cases, they use a titanium plate and screws as the hardware after they remove the disc and put in the bone graft. You said that they are going to use a cage in your surgery. I'm not familiar with the rods and cages that are used but there are many people on this site who have those and can help answer more of your questions. Alot of them post on this site.

    I had a multiple level ACDF C4-C6 in Nov. 2009 due to a double herniated disc compressing my spinal cord and alot of bone spurs pressing on my nerve roots. There was a cadavar bone and titanium plate with screws put in. It took 2 hours for my surgery and the worst part for me was waking up in recovery. My arm pain and numbness was gone but I felt so much more pain in my neck and shoulders. The throat pain and swallowing problem was horrible. It's caused by the breathing tube they insert in your throat while performing the surgery. The throat pain lasted for a week while on a soft food diet. On average, recovery is 8-12 weeks from surgery date but complete recovery and fusion can take up to a year as my surgeon explained to me.

    I hope this helps you in some way. If you have any questions, please post.
    I wish you well and take care.

  • Not sure about your flying question, but I imagine it would be around the same time that you are released to drive. In my case, I was allowed to drive after one week, but I didn't feel ready to drive at that point. It is really important to get up and walk around frequently, not sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. My neurosurgeon encouraged me to start walking daily as part of my recovery.
    The muscle spasms were the most frightening part of the recovery process for me. I began taking Skelaxin (sp?) and it did help to keep those under control. I continued it for over 6 months. I never had that "moment" or day when I could say, "I'm so much better". They kept pushing the day out. Some people recover very quickly they said, some take a month, some take 3 months, some take 6 months. My day just didn't come, but upon some self evaluation, I did realize that the pain in my right shoulder area and arm and hand numbness was gone for the most part, it was just replaced with a different pain and that turned out to be my arthritis getting worse. My neurosurgeon, and eventually the pain management doctor she referred me to, did reassure me that my surgery was not a wasted effort and that my pain would be much worse had I not had the C-5 to C-7 disk replacement/fusion. I was released from the neurosurgeon's care after 3 months. My fusion was complete and successful at that point.
    Today I can honestly say that I am better. It has been almost 2 years since that initial surgery. I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted in Nov 2009 and am still working to get it adjusted for maximum benefit now. I start physical therapy today and I'm actually excited about that and hope to get stronger and have more stamina in the coming months.
    Best of luck to you! Ask lots of questions of your doctor. They can't give you exact answers because everyone is different, but I do hope that you will be one of those exceptional patients who does really well after surgery, one of those we all hope to be!
  • thank you for sharing your experience, what are the spasms? does everyone get them? :)
  • I don't really know how to explain the muscle spasms, almost like a jolt. I can tell you that I had never experienced anything like it and didn't know what was happening! And unfortunately I didn't know about this group at that time, nor anyone who had been through the surgery, but as soon as I talked with the nurse about it on my first followup visit, she knew exactly what was going on and got the prescription for me and it did help. The muscle spasms eventually ease up as you heal.
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