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need advice on upcoming acdf surgery

KimVKKimV Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi, my name is Kim and I am scheduled this coming week for acdf surgery (c4-c7) and was hoping to get some advice and insight as to what I can expect. I have been reading some similar posts here and they have been helpful. Thanks in advance, Kim


  • Hi Kim,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many whom have gone through this surgery. Myself I am fused from c3-c6. What type of bone grafting material will they be using allograft, autograft or synthetic? What type of symptoms do you have? A thread you may want to check out is in the surgery forum and is things you will need post surgery to help you. Do you have someone to help you following surgery? Will you be wearing a brace or collar following surgery?

    As far as what to expect following surgery? For most the anticipation of surgery is far greater than the actual surgery itself. However I think you will find your biggest problem is going to be the muscle spasms. Don't be afraid to ask the nurses for your meds post surgery. Some have a sore throat and some don't. If you have a sore throat it typically takes anywhere from a few days to few weeks for it to go completely away. The feeling reminds me of like a soar throat associated with the flu. Some people wake from surgery and all the radicular pain is gone while others it takes sometime to go away depending on the time of compression. Sometimes people don't feel nearly as bad as they anticipated and start doing things to early only to suffer set backs. So be sure to follow all the surgeons orders and listen to your body. Also if you don't feel something is right following surgery don't hesitate to call your surgeons office. Typically the surgeon see's you back in two weeks following the surgery to take x-rays and check the incision.

    As far as the procedure itself if you have some nerve's going into it, they can give you something to help with that. More than likely you will arrive the day of your surgery and they will hook up the necessary IV's and do all the proper testing and what not. Things seem to get really busy in the pre-op area as everyone has a job to do in your care. Before you know it your doctor will be waking you up and saying it is all over. They will check your vitals and movements in all limbs. They will keep you in post op till they are sure you are stable and have monitored everything. My experience is they get you up walking within a few hours. I only stayed less than 24 hours for the surgery. But that is ok with me as I find my home more comfortable. Be sure you have a button up shirt for the ride home will make it much easier getting dressed.

    Before you leave home for the actual surgery figure out what place in your home you will be using and set everything up will need, like books, computer, paper, pens, phone access, movies, choloraseptic spray, bendy straws. Following surgery you will be encouraged to walk and it is about the only thing they will have you do. So get out there and enjoy the scenery and when you think you have walked enough walk some more. You want to keep your core body strength up.

    Anyway just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health, take care and keep us posted on how you get along. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of information throughout this site, including articles and videos that address what an ACDF entails and what to expect. Also, the members on the forum are friendly, knowledgeable and supportive.

    I had an ACDF on the same levels that you're having done in Oct. 2008. It wasn't too bad and I consider mine a success. My C6/7 hasn't fully fused, as it's the most difficult due to movement when the head moves, but is not causing me very many problems other than pain in the back of the neck and some continued muscle spasms.

    Will you be wearing a hard brace after your surgery? I wore one for four weeks than a soft brace for the following eight weeks. No, 1-1/2 years later, I've got great ROM and my only problem, other than the movement at C6/7 that I mentioned, is having pain if I leave my head in one place for too long.

    You'll have restrictions to follow after your surgery and should try to start walking as soon as possible, even if it's only to the bottom of the driveway and back at first.

    I found the recovery to be difficult for only the first week or two then boredom tends to set in as you feel better and you should plan on having some things around to keep your mind busy like books, games, movies, etc.

    Mechanical essentials for an ACDF patient recovery are generally bendy straws, soft foods (in case you have difficulty swallowing), a grabber (a couple if you live in a two story house), and many of us found a recliner to be the most comfortable place to "station" ourselves after our cervical surgeries.

    Browse around the site and you'll find a lot of information. Don't let all the bad stories scare you, as many who have successful surgeries move on and live life instead of posting here because they no longer need support.

    Also, take a look at the post-op must-haves in the surgery section. Many are for lumbar spineys only, but there are some for neckies too. I also found that a shower chair helped because I couldn't bend my head back to wash and rinse my hair. My hubby helped me with my showers for the first few weeks until I was comfortable doing it by myself.

    Hopefully, you'll have someone set up to help you the first couple of weeks so that you don't have to do too much.

    Let us know how you're doing and a little more about yourself like if you'll be wearing a collar, if you've got help lined up, etc.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions or just want to vent to a fellow neckie. I know it's very scary facing this kind of surgery, but the anticipation is often worse than the surgery itself. Most ACDF surgical patients only spend one night in the hospital, so that's a bonus. :-)

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Glad Kim, I am getting ready for my surgery on May 27th.. glad I found this site, I find I am living on here now....
    keep us updated!!
  • You have some good advice above. I will just add to it by reinforcing that anticpation of the surgery (and recovery) is worse than the real thing. Best advice is to try your best and relax. I am 1.5 years post-op now. Just stopped by this site to help out - as this site was great help to me back around the time of my surgery.

    Looking back at my experience, I really made much more of a fuss about all of it than I needed to. So did my wife! Not intending to downplay anything here - but just to hopefully take some of anxiety away.

    FWIW, I wore a collar for 4 weeks. Ddoctors orders, but really didn't keep it too terribly tight - and took it off alot while sitting in my recliner. I had donor bone and titanium plate. Slept in recliner for a couple of weeks. Then moved back to bed. No fancy pillows. Just had to find that happy position with the stupid collar on. Really no big deal - just annoying. Make sure you get replacement pads for the collar though - or avoid chili-dogs, sweating, etc. (LOL).
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