Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

4 level fusion, lot of questions?

chisjccchisjc Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, I"m new to the site but have been reading a lot over the last copule months to educate my self. Yesterday I got quite a shock from my nerosurg. After MRi, EMG and two sets of x-rays he said" You need a major surgery" Went on to tell me C-3 through C-6 were in very poor shape. Not what I wanted to hear.

He then said the operation was bigger than he wanted to do and was referring me another with whom he had already spoken to while I was there. That suregons office has already called me this morning.

Bottom line haven't seen a lot on here regarding 4 levels procedures.

He stated they would need to go in from both the front and back?

Anyone had this done? Recovery time?

Probably the most concerning part to me is he said I may never be able to function fully again in my job, I work in law enforcement, dam not good.

Any input related to experience on this would be great. Sorry it's so long


  • Hi,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. I am fused as well from c3-c6, but I went the long route with multiple surgeries. Do you know exactly what it is they are saying. For example do you have myeloopathy, stability issue or a cord compression? What type of bone grafting material will they be using? Why the need for anterior and posterior? Will they be leaving the vertebre alone and removing disc only? What type of hardware are they putting in? I encourage you to check out the section at the top of the page called FAQ and you will find in that list, a list of questions to ask a surgeon. I would also setup another opinion, completely independent from the ones you are seeing. My concern is the fact they are telling you, your career maybe over. So I just want you to have all the facts up front and understand all your options. Doing posterior surgery is a very rough recovery and takes a long time to heal from.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health and if I can be of any further assistance please don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Im with Tamtam. A second opinion would be my first priority. I am in my first week of recovery from posterior surgery and she not lying when she says it is rough. That is a understatement. I can tell you this there is nothing you can do to mentally prepare yourself for this surgery, remember this is my experience and yours could be diffrent but others will tell you this surgery is no piece of cake. Good luck and I hope you take the advise of getting a second opinion.
  • HI
    Firstly, I wish you the best of luck. In '08..I had a 3 level ACDF C3-6 . I had severe stenosis w/myleopathy, cord compression and narrowing. Ostophites were starting to sever my spinal cord. My surgery had to be done immediately or i was going to be paralysed.I can tell you that it is no joke and dangerous surgery. I'm not trying to scare you, just inform you.I was in critical care for a few days and my recovery was difficult.I have a plate and 8 screws in there now. My best advice to you my friend is seek second, third opinions and get the best doctor you can find who has a lotta experience doing thse surgeries.As far as your career goes..I suppose it depends on a lotta factors. Such as if u have cord damage,balanace issues.Once hardware is place in the cervical area you have to be careful, a lotof things could happen ..i dont know if u r a cop or what..I was in a similar field and was forced to retire.After this surgery, u cannot risk anything further happening to that neck....you would be looking at a lot more trouble than you'd want.

    Best of luck

  • This is my 2nd opinion. Wasn't satisfied with the 1st and sought this one. Not sure why post and ant. Will ask tomorrow as he wants to see me at 7am.

    All I do know is I have nerve problems at c-6 severe DDD, stenosis and a lot of arthitic growth. As far as the other questions I will ask them tomorrow and have printed the FAQ's to take with me.

    As far the job goes he stated I may not be able to "roll around" with someone again because of the risk of injury to the area. All I know for now.
  • Hi Chisjc! I don't have much to offer to you other than support!Glad you have found this forum as there is a ton of information and support.

    Spinal fusion surgery is a difficult surgery. It is one that you want to make sure you have every question/concern answered and confidence in the surgeon you choose.

    On the other side; a 360 fusion (where they go in from the anterior and the posterior side) is difficult. But it is do able!

    From a job standpoint~you definately won't want to take the chance of paralysis while taking some guy down. Or have that thought in the back of your mind while you are working. When one door closes another door opens, you just have to be able to go through it!

    Hang in there! We are here to offer support as you make your way through the process! Shari
  • I agree that you should get at least another opinion. If you live in the US, be sure you are seeing a fellowship-trained spine surgeon. If you have seen neurosurgeons, I would suggest you get a "second opinion" from an orthopedic spine surgeon (NOT a general orthopedic doc!!) While their training is very similar to that of a spinal neurosurgeon, their attitude and approach is a bit different.

    As Paul explained so well, this is a big sugery and not without risk. You want to find the BEST surgeon and one that you like and trust. You have a little time to make the decision...you do not need to decide tomorrow. Run a search on each specialist and do some research on them. You want to find someone that mentions cervical surgery as a specialty or at least, who does a lot of it.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the career, for now. It sounds like you do not have much choice as to whether to have the surgery, or not. Recovery is slow for this type of spine surgery...you will have plenty of time to contemplate the future once you get to that point.

    Good luck with your decision.

  • Thanks for all of your input. I have done my research in the Doctor filed. Actuaklly thios is my 3rd opinion. My wife has been a nurse for 20 years and she runs interference for me there.

    Met with him today and he is who I will have the procedure.

    He wasn't happy with the MRI or the EMG report. He wants both of them done over to be certain, which is fine in my book. His gut is it will be the 4. Reason he gave me for the posterior and anterior is 4 disc through the front is only 60% that all 4 discs will fuse, done the other way he says closer 85%. He did give me reassurance that my career could be ok but could be upwards of a year before I could return to full duty which is very good news.
  • Thats kinda good news....A few things i wanna point out....i know a lotta dr's wont do that surgery if u smoke. They claim u will not fuse. I smoke ,never quit and did fuse fine. Also, u can get a stimulator to wear for 4 hrs each day which is supposed to promote fusion. I wore it,I cant say for sure it worked,but again,,i fused fine. Insurance did cover mine as they are expensive.. like 5k.
    1 more thing that I believe was helpful to me is that my surgeon actually took stem cells from my hip and injected those in the compound he used between the synthetic discs. That might be something to ask about,i firmly believe that had a lot to do w/my successful outcome.

    Good luck to you...
  • Funny, I asked my doc about the stimulator and he didn't think it would be worthwhile. Somehow I don't really agree with him. I've heard from others that they do work, so you're probably right that it did help you even if you can't always tell what's really doing the healing. I'm just going to ask him to give me a scrip. to either rent or but a stimulator, I firmly believe that you do everything possible to help in the healing process.

    In my case the doc said that my own graft would not be a good idea because I have osterporosis and that a donor graft would be a better option for me. I don't want to go through the graft process anyway as I know too many people that had more problems with the graft than the surgery itself. Just one less problem to worry about. I'm also a slow healer due to radiation therapy in the past, so I'll do anything that will help in the process.

    One thing that I have not gotten a good answer to is, what can I expect in the way of mobility after L2 to L5 fusion> Any one have opinions and thoughts on this? Marsha

    PS: I'm on the West Coast so I'm a little late on answering posts.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Actually, if you are going to be fused C3 through C6 this is a 3 level fusion

    C3 to C4 is one level
    C4 to C5 is the second level
    C5 to C6 is the third level

    Three level cervical fusions are not the most common (most that I've seen are one or two levels). Mine was a two level C5-C7 and I wish he had added C4 which was showing signs of future problems.

    I'd be interested as to why they want to go in from the front and the back. The front version, ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion)) is more well tolerated than the posterior approach. In the ACDF they don't go through muscle but in the posterior approach they do have to cut through muscle. I had a posterior foraminotomy (for stenosis) C5-C7 and it was bit more painful post-op.

    So perhaps a second opinion is needed. Also consider an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon as well. I've had all my spine surgeries done by an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon as I've been more comfortable with their approach. But I did see a good neurosurgeon as well for an opinion and he concurred with the ortho spine doc.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
Sign In or Register to comment.