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Loss of voice after ACDF

DaveNHDDaveNH Posts: 58
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Recovering from Surgery
March 23 I had C6/7 ACDF with a piece of my hip bone.
Arm hand pain gone, some neck pain and a lot of burn between the shoulders.

The day of the operation and the next I had a raspy voice, but since then it has gone bye-bye. I talk (if you can call it that) in weak whisper. Gets weaker as the day progresses. Need to use a lot of air to talk by supper time. So I don't. I bought some post-its. Fun at first but now I'm getting wery.

See doctor next week for follow to the operation.

Concern or common?



  • Hello Dave,

    Most folks who have anterior surgery of the cervical spine have some sort of "throat issues" for several weeks, to possibly more. When you have this surgery, they physically "move" your esophagus out of the way to gain access to your spine. Additionally if you are intubated, that too will add to the discomfort. You are very early in your recovery at this stage. If it continues for more than another week or 2, and or there is marked soreness, then you might want to get with your surgeon.

    C6/7 by the way seems to put more strain on the esophagus and vocal cords. Not sure why, but it might be because it is directly below your vocal cords? I am 8 months out and starting near 5 months my voice went...hardware and cracked fusion causing mine. Give it a bit of time, and hopefully it will get better.

    Try cool smooth foods - ice chips, ice cream, yogurt, grits etc. Be nice to your throat and hopefully it will settle down for you. Take care, and please keep us posted.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I also had voice problems after my ACDF, more so than throat pain and soreness.

    My voice was raspy after surgery and would get worse as the day went on. It probably took me two or so months before I could talk normally and then about six months before I had any kind of range at all to sing along with the radio. My range is still very limited and will probably never get it back.

    Like Brenda said though, any time you're concerned, contact your surgeon. That's what they're there for, but you are very early in recovery to be too concerned I think.

  • Took six weeks and two days to come back.
    Good for about 1/2 day and then I lose it again.
    Each day seems to get a little sronger and lasting longer.
  • DaveNH said:
    Took six weeks and two days to come back.
    Good for about 1/2 day and then I lose it again.
    Each day seems to get a little sronger and lasting longer.
    Howdy Dave, good to see you back with us!!! It looks like you are on the mend once again. :) As I mentioned earlier, the C6/7 is more of a "throat" bugger as it is below the cords, and the throat is stretched a bit more than some of the other levels. I hope it continues to improve. Thanks for the update!! Keep healing. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Started coming back and for a few days seemed to be normal. It would get squeaky later in the day. This morning it's gone again. Maybe I just over did it.
    Think I'll just go sit in the corner and shut up for a few days.
  • Greetings Dave!!

    It sounds like you are on the upswing. Unless there is something wrong in the fusion site (and from what you're describing...probably not), you should continue to bounce back. I don't know if this helps, but I noticed when my voice was off and on after my surgery, it was after I did a lot of neck movements left and right. If I stayed fairly calm with my neck activity, I didn't notice my voice getting funky or throat getting dry. It's sounding good for you Dave. *hug*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am now heading into week 4 , my voice is whispery in the morning and gurgles more as the day goes on.
    It's exhausting and depressing
    I read mixed comments on whether to rest it not try to talk or exercise it.
    This is third fusion , c4/5 after compression fracture in 1980, c5/6 in 1996 and now c6/7 , the others were easy recovery. This seems very different, could scar tissue from previous operations make it worse?
    Or am I just impatient
  • Beth15BBeth15 Posts: 4
    edited 05/20/2015 - 6:52 PM
    My voice is all over the place as well. One minute it will be a little raspy and hoarse and the next I can't get anything out. It is really bad now, but I have been vomiting for four days on top of just having my ACDF on the 11th. Here's to hoping all of us will have our normal voices back soon. :) I work in retail as a customer service representative. I deal with customers in person and over the telephone so I really need mine back when I return to work. My husband probably enjoys me resting my voice though. lol
  • My voice sounds like a 120 year old woman after my ACDF on C7 - T1.

    Only been a week so I'm hopeful

    Here's ( raising a glass of grape juice) hoping everyone gets their voice back.
  • I am 3-1/2 weeks post ACDF, and voice is still not returned. I was at least encouraged by ths forum, to learn that hopefully, with more time, and patience the result will be the return of my voice. What makes me angry is the surgeon didn't even mention this as a possibilty, until AFTER the ACDF.

    Thank you everyone for posting, and I wish you speedy recovery...to SING again.
  • Prior fusion of c5-6 in 1999. No issues post op other than expected. On July 17th I had spinal fusion of C7-T1. This recovery was much more difficult. I understand the amount of surgery but its over 5 weeks and my voice is almost non existent. I speak in soft high pitched weak breathy voice. Its tough to finish a sentence. My surgeon put me on steroids but after finishing the dose I have no improvement. Any advice? Please?
  • I am having the same issue. I have my surgery on 10-21-15, I wasn't told till after my surgery that my voice would be like this for a month. Well it's over a month and I sound horrible. My general practioner said it could be permanent. I go back to the Neurosurgeon next week and I am going to ask about this. I am upset because I still have numbness in my left thumb. I am back on Gabapentin to try and help that. I had the c5-6 and c6-7 done.
    Karen Brophy
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 99
    edited 01/17/2016 - 3:42 PM
    Karen...did your voice rerurn? I had same surgery as u and I whisper and am.breathy and run out of air while talking and sound like a ln emphysema patient while talking and gasping for air. My nose was stopped up.and.breathing thru throat felt like breathing thru a coating and make.me.feel.panicky like I wasn't going to get enuf air. I'm really scared about the future bc I sing..well I used to sing. The air it takes.to talk makes me.dizzy at some.point and tired. So scared a screw is backing out and causing this. Surgeon said day after surgery and was doing discharge that my you are awfully hoarse but that should get better in 3 wks up to 3 months so he thought it was bad even then..
  • You need to see an ENT. I had a 3 level cervical fusion and at about 5 months into my recovery, I could tell my swallowing wasn't correct. It felt different and I was i hoarse. When I tried to sing my muscles hurt. Found out I had a slight muscle weakness. Took some reflux medicine and went to vocal therapy for a month and I'm back to normal. Hang in there
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 99
    Talked to nurse today and she said that at the 3 mth point if this is not.better, that they would send me to the ENT and they would give some sort of silicone injection I think she said that would clear it up hopefully but to give it time bc I'm only at 4 wks..I hate this!
  • HualaniHualani Big Ilsland HawaiiPosts: 57
    OK I understand  the proximity of the anatomy, and  the lower levels may have greater risk of voice issues, but
    have any of you connected voice to neck movements/motion?
    Life is too short to be serious all the time.
    so if you cant laugh at yourself, contact me
    I'll laugh at you. B)
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 99
    Yes! I thought that might be coincidence. When laying in bed on my side I can speak normal. My voice came back almost full a week ago and gets threads by day end and I've been able to sing some even though it's not normal yet. 
  • HualaniHualani Big Ilsland HawaiiPosts: 57
    WOW thank you so very much for sharing your experience!
    I suspected that neck position could possibly be an element in the voice...but it helps to hear it from another patient.
    Congrats on your healing. It sounds as if you're going to be ok...its all a matter of time and patience?

    Life is too short to be serious all the time.
    so if you cant laugh at yourself, contact me
    I'll laugh at you. B)
  • abeaman1aabeaman1 Stourbridge, West Midlands, UKPosts: 2
    I had ACDF surgery on 20th July 2016, everything went well started to feel better after 3 weeks then after 4 weeks my voice went. I'm now 4 weeks further down the road and voice not come back. How strange is that? My surgery was C5/6 and C6/7. I have found the info on this conversation useful as I now know I'm not alone with this problem. 

    Oh oh and yes I agree it gets worse as the day goes on and is very tiring to try to talk and yes I feel light headed after trying for a few minutes. I just hope that the voice loss will not be too long as I talk for a living?
  • abeaman1aabeaman1 Stourbridge, West Midlands, UKPosts: 2
    Hi, Karen I have had the same surgery as you with the same disks, after 4 weeks of recovery my voice went and now a further 4 weeks later is not returned? How long did it take for yours to recover
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Hello abeaman

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum. Karen also hasn't been back to the forum since her one post last year so I am closing it.
    I suggest you create a new discussion using the link below

    Please click on the link for useful information

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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