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2 ACDF with hardware removal, failed fusion and fractured vertebrae

RnaynayRRnaynay Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
2nd ACDF

After posting the following I finally found a NS who would see me. No one in my state would touch me. The first thing my new NS did was take an xray of my neck. I kept trying to get previous NS to do this but he would not. My NS showed me the xray. One of the screws from the plate had completely went through my C6 vertebrae and fractured it. The cadaver bone that was put in 9/28/09 was gone or so it appeared on the film, so I had a myleogram (horrible headache for a week even after blood patch. The myleogram confirmed what NS thought, so on 9/27/2010 I had plate and screws removed. I did have some what of the bone left so my NS let my c5/c6 vertebrae rest on each other with the bible thin paper cadaver bone between. I am wearing a cervical bone stimulator (which increases my pain). I need some words of encouragement. I still am in pain. My chest feels broken my neck, upper back hurts and I have the pain in both shoulders and down my arm. I also have swelling on the back of my neck. I returned to work 33 days after the surgery. I am a teacher, but I rarely sit. I teach math so I am constantly working at the board or walking around. I am very frustrated, hurting and tired. Will this ever end. My NS also told me if he doesn't see any improvement by December he wants to go back in from the posterior, clean out all the scar tissue and replace the donor bone the correct way. Help........

Neck pain, headache and left hand numbness

This is my first post. I had ACDF 9/28/2009 and still having problems.Radiology report in September. (C5-C6 Right posterolateral disc herniation touches the anterior margin of the right cervical hemicord with effacement of the right subarticular recess and right exiting foramen. There is neural impingement within the right right exiting foramen. There is circumferential disc bulge which partially effaces the thecal sac anteriorly. C6-C7 Bulge indents the thecal sac. C7-T1 circumferential disc bulge.) Surgery went well, had pain after surgery in my right shoulder and down my right arm. The numbness in my right hand went away immediately. After several weeks the pain in my right arm and shoulder also went away. I went back to work December 9, 2009. I saw my neurosurgeon in December 2009 and he ordered a MRI. He discussed with me the possibility my fusion not working. He was concerned about my new left hand numbness and a little concerned that I hurt when I over do, but his main concern is my weight ( which I had prior to surgery). Needless to say I did not have a pleasant visit. I last say my neurosurgeon January 29, 2010 and asked him to release me because his concern is me losing weight. When I saw him on this final visit I told him my left palm and thumb, and first three fingers are always numb. I did not have this before or immediately after my surgery. He talked to me about new MRI results which are as follows: (C4-C5 minimal disc bulge with early small uncovertebral joint osteophytes, no canal or forminal stenosis. C5-C6 is intact with fusion. C6-C7 Disc desiccation with disc bulging narrowing the anterior subarachoid space with minimal anterior cord flattening and mild AP canal stenosis. C7-T1 small left paracentral disc profusion into the left lateral recess with out cord or nerve root compression. Borderline AP canal diameter of 10mm. I guess my complaint is the constant tightness in my chest, left hand numbness and not being able to do normal things (house cleaning) without hurting in my right arm. To all of you who have more experience than I, should I be concerned and fine another NS or just let the sleeping dog sleep.


  • Hi
    Your post sounds like mine in that we both share the tone of frustration and helpessness. Like you, I am a teacher too and I know first hand -our profession doesnt work well with intense chronic pain we are enduring but unfortunately our connection to our students is perhaps our only source of strength in this battle -one we know we may lose at anytime to total disability or the point of no return.
    My suffering differs from yours in that all my reconstructions are lumbar -regardless Iam here if your feeling alone in this-
    Hoping for for a better tomorrow for all of us
    :) kim
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    and Welcome to the world of failed cervical spinal fusion(s). Your story sounds somewhat like mine. i won't bore with with all the details here and now but feel free to P.M. me if you would like all the particulars.

    What I can say is that after having one of the "Finest Neurosurgeons in Chicagoland" lead me towards a failed ACDF ... it took over a year of other doctors ducking and covering for the simple fact that I needed to have to entire process redone.

    The second go around was by one of the "finest Orthopedic Surgeons in Chicagoland". To this day some 2.5+ years after the second Anterior and posterior repair ... I still have pain and numbness in my left hand and arm. Recent MRI confirms that I now have stenosis at the level above my hardware.

    I am not allowed to give advice but I can tell you that in my case .... seeking out an orthopedic surgeon was the best thing I could have done ... we have bone problems causing nerve problems not nerve problems causing bone problems. In my case an orthopedic surgeon was and still is the best course of action.

    Hoping for the best and resolution to your problems,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • Like Dave, mine too is a mess. Like you but I think mine is due to hardware differences (see my avatar) a few millimeters below the bottom screw of my plate, my C6 vertebra cracked through too! On mine, my NS "thinks" it will heal on it's own. I pretty well can tell around when it happened, as due to movement my voice at times is trashed. Vocal cords per my ENT are being constantly irritated due to "movement of my hardware."

    My NS didn't even send me for the customary 12 month x-ray series, so I will get a new surgeon if this doesn't resolve. I see that you've found that surgeons don't like to "fix" their own messes. Like Dave and you, on my right side, my weakness is still there, most of my hand and bottom of the forearm is numb, and depending on what I am doing, shooters of pain down the base of the neck to the hand. My hand cramps almost daily now, and that I think drives me more nuts than anything.

    I hope this go around they can get you some relief. Dave and I chat here and there about what's going on with us, and it keeps us up on our spirits. We are here for ya! Again, Welcome aboard!!! *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • first let me say welcome to spine-health. There are plenty of us around with multiple surgeries that completely understand what you are going through.

    AS someone with 6 surgeries behind them I do understand. The details are really not important, but I think the gold standard from a failed fusion is the posterior approach. The one thing I caution you is the posterior approach is much harder on your body. Some questions you might want to ask is what will they be doing with your existing anterior hardware? Also what type of bone grafting will they be using if they need to repair the non-fusion? In my cases we have opted for my bone(allograft) on the redo's. I have been blessed in that my first surgeon wasn't afraid to go back in and fix the mess. I say first as I am work comp and was sent to a second surgeon, whom once surgery was over he was done too. But that is all water under the bridge now and while this last surgery was a 360 to clean it all up, hopefully this will stop it from getting worse.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health and to let you know your not alone and we all do understand your frustrations. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and hopefully your having a better day pain wise.
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