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3 years post acdf..can your fusion breakdown or crack??

dilynnddilynn Posts: 37
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi fellow spineys it has been almost 3 years since my c6-c7acdf. Everything has been going great up until about 3 months ago. I am not sure what I did. My neck started creaking and grinding. Something didn't feel right. I started with arm pain and just had a feeling. I had done so well and something changed. I have sinced moved to a different part of the state and due to insurance can't go back to my original NS.
MRI in Jan showed nothing really. Went to new nurse after I complained to primary care physician that it hurt. He comment was well when we have that kind of surgery you are going to have chronic pain. I tried to tell her that I had no pain until just recently.

Fast forward to today. Did some x-rays. Xray tech let me peak. I noticed in between the screws where it should be solid white, I see a black line thru the area. It is seen in a couple of views. Looks like a crack in the fusion..Is that possible. When I seen my films after fusion there was no black line. You could see a thin whitish line where it was fusing. This is very pronounced.
My symptoms are pain, arm weakness. Hard to move my neck. It hurts to lift anything...so what are your thoughts....
2007 ACDF C6 - C7
2010 Aspen Cage L4,L5 for Grade 2 Spondo and spinal stenosis
2011 Non-Union C6-C7, Revision Posterior fusion with hardware.
2012 Failed fusion of L4, L5. Revision L4, L5 Fusion with hardware.


  • Howdy Lynn,

    Yes a fusion can crack - not common, but yes. My C6 vertebra between my fusions cracked around the 5 month post op mark, and has not "resolved" itself. My crack, like what you're describing, you can see clearly on the x-ray. Mine initially matched screw thread for screw thread about 3mm below the bottom screw, then past it a irregular crack to the back.

    My ENT (my voice started having bad issues at about the time *I* estimate it cracked) saw that my "hardware was moving" until I showed him the x-rays, and he modified it to my hardware is moving "at" the crack. I see my Neurologist March 4th, so hoping to have new x-rays/MRI's done then.

    And yes, I am now symptomatic C5-8, but now both left and right sides. I hope you have answers soon. With me, my doctor wanted to wait a year to see if the crack "self resolved"...since the symptoms are still there, and my choke outs and voice are still fubar, *my* guess, it hasn't resolved. Should know soon though. Please let us know how it goes.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hello,

    I finally had my OS visit on 2/25/11 after experiencing the last 6 weeks of intractable neck pain. My OS is initially thinking after viewing my X-rays that I cracked or crushed the C6-C7 fusion. I had to take a CT Scan that evening and will find out results on Wednesday. I am 18 months post-op ACDF C5-C7. I can relate. I was doing really well last year until 6 weeks ago. I'll find out what my options are, I am little scared of the posterior approach to correction. Symptoms are headaches and burning, radiating pain at base of neck.

  • Hey it bee a nice post regard spine pain. I to gone through this pain many times and now i am being with a doctor consult for it.
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