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Recovery time for one level ACDF

sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all. Yes, I am getting nervous because Monday is getting closer all the time. I'm just thinking of all kinds of things. I like to be prepared you know?
I'm having an ACDF C5-6 with doner bone (surgeon said mine but assistant said he uses doner), plate and 4 screws. They said the surgery will be from 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. I'm supposed to have a soft collar for only a few days.
I didn't get to see my surgeon last week, only saw his assistant. I asked her how long until I can do normal stuff and she said I should be able to do almost anything other than lifting as soon as I get home. The surgeon said about three weeks the last time I saw him. I don't know what to expect now. I've heard of so many having the surgery and having restrictions for 4-6 weeks and now this dr says I can do normal stuff around the house as soon as I get home? I hope she's right. What do you think?
Also, what tests did they do at your pre-op? I only had bloodwork.


  • Good morning. I hope that we can help ease your mind and nerves through the weekend. Hang in there!

    As far as pre-op, normally it is bloodwork, a pregnancy test (for the women only of course) and an EKG. On top of that, all the paperwork the medical facility requires so that things are in order and ready to go on the morning of your surgery.

    The good thing is that you will get discharge instructions before you leave the hospital to go home. These should outline everything for you and if not to your satisfaction, then ask questions. Most times the discharge nurse is not someone who works with your surgeon, so you may have to wait and call your surgeon's office the following day to get clarification.

    We will be here all weekend, so you are not alone as you wait. Is there anything you can do this weekend to get out and distract yourself for a while?

  • My pre-op appointment was like "C" said, only no pregnancy test. Blood work, emg, paperwork and then talking with the head nurse telling you what to expect while in the hospital. One thing she told me, oddly enough, is that when they ask you your pain level, if it's really a 6, say it's a 7 or 8 so that you're sure to get enough meds to make you comfortable. Do you know if you'll have a pain pump? I had a dilauded pump for my ACDF (did nothing for me) and had a morphine pump for my TLIF (after telling my doc about the dilauded).

    Like "C" said, it really varies from patient to patient and doctor to doctor on post-op activites and when you can begin them. However, I seriously doubt that you can do anything you want once you get home. I had a packet sent to me by my doctor before I had my surgery outlining what I couldn't do in the first four weeks after surgery. The list was a little more extensive for my TLIF, but for my ACDF it was the standard no BLT and taking your meds on schedule for the first two weeks.

    I would always err on the side of caution in the first months after surgery, by not doing a whole lot other than walking. My hubby helped me with my showers the first month because I was wearing a hard collar and didn't feel I could bend my head back enough to wash my hair. So I sat on a stool in the shower and covered my face while he washed my hair. Once I was off the hard collar, I felt more comfortable with driving and showering.

    I think you'll have a good idea of what you can and can't do when you get home. For me, the first two days I felt fantastic, like I didn't even have surgery. I guess it was the internal meds they gave me because after day two, I felt like I'd been hit by a mac truck. But it got better from there, slowly but surely.

    I hope you have activities planned for this weekend and will be eating all your favorite foods, too.

  • Hi Debbie,

    As C, said everyone is different. On my pre-op it was blood work, EKG, chest x-ray and pregnancy test. The day of surgery the pregnancy test was repeated prior to surgery.

    AS far as my restrictions all though I have been in several different surgeries with different entries and different types of collars and braces the restrictions where pretty much the same. One my surgeon gives out a walking program that is to start the day you come home from the hospital. Second the lifting deal was nothing heavier than a gallon of milk, as it weight 8lbs. I did find the gallon of milk was a bit difficult at first so I had someone get me half gallons. The driving was a no go till my post op appointment, and then on the different surgeries depending on what I was in depended on the driving. I was able to shower just fine. I had used my bone on 3 occasions so the shower chair was a must. One thing I think is important if you need to bend over for something be sure to bend at the knees and not at the waist. Also it is best to get a pill box for your meds so you know exactly what you have taken.

    AS far as diet goes, it was resume normal foods as tolerated. But you might want to have some meds just in case the nasty constipation issue hits you, with the meds they give you. Also take some type of throat candy to suck on at the hospital. You will save yourself from calling the nurse so much and waiting on them, to bring to you. As far as pain after surgery I was given percocet, as they gave me morphine but it had no effect on me, and we just went to oral percocet and muscle relaxers. One thing I did sense I was returning home by myself is made sure everything was all setup where i was going to camp out in my house. So I picked my couch to be able to sit straight up. One thing I have learned is you want wherever you pick to make sure your TV is straight in front of you when you lay on your back. This will keep you from needing to keep your head in a turned position. I setup a tray with my laptop plugs in, power strip in case i needed to plug anything else in, pens, books, writing paper and phone. I was probably over prepared but then again I knew it was all done and I was home alone. The one thing is they don't want you laying around to much so be sure to get your walking in everyday and drink plenty of water. My best advice let someone else clean the house and do the laundry post surgery. Remember it will always be there if no one does it, but don't stress out. But be sure where ever your going to chill there is no cobb webbs dust under some furniture, funny how when your laying there you can see all of that you never seen before. But tell yourself it was there before and it will be there once you feel better.

    I think you will do fine with it all. Be sure to update as soon as you can. Try and get out today and tomorrow and do something you enjoy or go to your favorite restaurant. Then just sit back and relax after surgery. This is your time to get better and recover.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I only had bloodwork at pre-op but thought I'd have an EKG since most do.

    I've cleaned house all day. I think I may have cleaned a few things several times...lol. I clean when I'm nervous or worried. Now my arm is hurting so bad that at least I know exactly why I have to do this.

    Now tomorrow may be a different story. I'll probably be a basket case.

    I hope your day has been a good one.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    My nurse at pre-op didn't mention pain meds at all. We mostly discussed that she had a 3 level ACDF two years ago and is doing great. That made me feel like a wimp for worrying so much over this one. I can't help it though. I've had my appendix out, gallbladder, bunion, and morton's neuroma surgery. Yep, I'd dread them all again. :D
    You're not going to believe this. Hubby just asked me if I dread Monday!!!! I said, no I look forward to it...what do you think? lol.

  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    Thanks for a lot of good advice. As for the cob webs and dust...that's why I've been cleaning all day. I'm the type of person that stuff like that would drive me crazy if I couldn't do it. One good thing, my son is home all the time so he can do whatever I can't. He really is very good to me when I'm unable to do things.

    Tomorrow I'd like to go out to eat but my husband has to work. I'm sure I'll keep busy though. Anything to keep my mind occupied. I think sometimes we read and learn to much about these procedures.lol.

    Hope you're doing well. How's everything going with you?
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