Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Probable neck surgery upcoming; what procedure is likely?

BrihtwulfBBrihtwulf Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
After having some odd problems and pain, I finally got an MRI of my neck. As physical therapy is not an option in this situation, my doctor has referred me directly to a neurosurgeon (my 3rd). A little relevent history: I have spondyloarthropathy and Crohn's Disease. I have already had a microdiscectomy at L5-S1 and a fusion at the same location. The bones did not graft after the fusion.

I have been having increased neck pain, as well as numbness and tingling on the left side of my face, neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. It's particularly bad at night, and the first time it all went numb it gave me a panic attack because I thought I was having a heart attack or stroke. Apparently the one-sided facial numbness can be caused by increased cranial pressure.

The MRI showed a herniation (possible rupture) and osteophage complex at C5-C6 and a ruptured disc at C6-C7. There is some spinal stenosis and a moderate mass effect (which just basically indicates an increase in intracranial pressure due to the blockage of spinal fluid). With that knd of damage, physical therapy isn't going to help (and could make matters worse).

My question is: What kind of surgery are they likely going to recommend? It seems like a discectomy at 2 levels wouldn't make much sense, especially considering the vertebrae at C6-C7 are almost touching. Is a fusion the only other option?

What are cervical fusions like in comparison to lumbar fusions? Are they much more dangerous? Any additional risks or recovery factors? Anyone here who has had a multi-tier fusion in their neck have an input, opinions, or suggestions?

Someone operating on my lower back was scary enough, but the idea of a major surgery on my neck has me completely freaked out.




  • Howdy JJ,

    Normally a fusion is done to shore up and stabilize the spine. From what you're describing, (if it where me) I wouldn't be surprised if they suggest a fusion for those 2 levels.

    I've not have lumbar surgery yet (still putting it off), but the cervical has a bit of higher risk due to the proximity to the cord. The recovery (most times) is quicker and less painful than lumbar - again I'm judging the lumbar by what I see on here. The really wonderful thing for me on cervical fusions? When I awoke, all the radicular pain was gone!

    Please let us know what the surgeon advises. I don't see spine surgery as "a fix" anymore, but procedures to stop further damage, and hopefully allow the affected nerves to heal. Sorry you might be heading down the surgery path.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • While no one here can really say for certain what type of surgery. The standard surgery for cervical patients is ACDF(anterior cervical discectomy fusion). The question becomes what type of bone grafting sense it appears you already have a failed lumbar fusion. If your having issues to fuse they may suggest autograft and or BMP. Although BMP is not supposed to be used in the cervical spine, except rare cases and should then be put in posterior. With that said I Have seen more surgeons still using it on the anterior side. But if you have a fusion issue in your lumbar area, I would be most concerned about the bone grafting material, if fusion is suggested.
  • Even though I've already had two spinal surgeries, the idea of a major on in my neck seems really frightening. I mean, I was aware that in any surgery, people can die from very rare bleeding or anesthesia complications. And if something bad had happened with my spinal cord I could have been paralyzed from the waist down.

    But if something went wrong in my neck I could end up completely paralyzed or dead from something happening to my spinal cord.

    What are the typical chances of a severe paralysis or other major nerve damage?

    Does it leave a huge scar on your throat, since they go in from the front?

    Is it mch different when they are doing two levels vs one?

    I guess there don't seem to be many other options after reading around. My wife read something about a combination traction and bracing, but I wouldn't think that is an option in my case since the vertebra are almost touching ar C6-C7.

    How long is the recovery typically with something like this? It was months after my lumbar surgeries, though I never fully recovered from either (discectomy re-herniated and fusion didn't take). I know it probably won't "fix" my neck, but at least it'll likely stop further damage there andlower my cranial pressure back to normal.

    Sorry for the numerous question, I just want to know as much as I can before I go in to my appointment.
  • I know how scary any surgery is, and especially cervical surgery. It's been said that cervical surgery is harder on the surgeon and easier on the patient, whereas lumbar surgery is easier on the surgeon and harder on the patient. Yes, it's due to the proximity to the cord.

    Keep in mind that having 100% confidence in your surgeon is key. Also, during the surgery, they'll have someone in there that keeps a close eye on all your nerve endings to be sure that the surgeon doesn't "hit" one or damage anything.

    I've had both surgeries, a 3-lvl ACDF and a 1-lvl TLIF and the ACDF was easier by far for me. Only a one-day hospital stay and the recovery was much quicker. Also all the pain was gone after I woke up from surgery, except for the surgery pain.

    As for the scar, mine is vertical, about three inches and you can't even tell it's there. They didn't care as much on my lumbar and the scar is very noticable, but they took great care to make sure the neck scar doesn't show. They may put it in a fold in your neck or if your is like mine with no folds, can do a darned good job of patching you up and not having the scar show.

    Again, I know it's scary, but it'll be over before you know it. I really hope you fuse on this one. Take care and please keep us posted.

    Don't hesitate to PM me if I can help you in any way.

  • I was told 14 years ago that i had this disease in my back and that someday it would put me in a wheelchair. I was told that i had an intradiscal herniation in my spine, but nothing was ever done about it. I now have a small area in my back where it starts tinkling like its starting to fall asleep. I also now have a bulging herniated disk in my neck. I was already sufferring in severe pain from Fibromyalga. And most of the time i get very little sleep, I have terribal mood swings, and i don't want to eat because I have no appitight. And right now I can't find a good rymatologist. I wish that someone would just give me some straight answers and get me the help that i need to ease the pain.
  • My problems started in 12/09...after seeing my doc for neck pain that had started to give my left arm some problems I started conservative therapy with PT with no success...I had 2 cervical injections (for what they thought was a slight bulging disc) done with no success...at times I had some relief but all the symptoms came back in a week or two...now I am a very active person normally....but during this time I was basically on bed rest cause I was in soooo much pain...so it wasn't like I was aggravating the injury....so I was referred to our local Ortho MD who specializes in Cervical Procedures...we weighed out my options and beings that the conservative therapy along with meds hadn't worked he thought it was time to have an MRI done...I had a Cervical MRI done that showed a herniated C5(the lesser of the 2 evils) and C6 which was bone on bone with C7 and pinching the nerve root that runs down the left arm....he put in for ASAP surgery...now we all know how Work Comp is so after all the hoops I had to jump through to get the surgery we jump up to current date cause I will spare you all with the exciting details of the 8 month battle it took me to get the surgery approved while all along becoming worse and worse...so I had little to no grip in my L hand...No reflexes in any part of the arm...tingling and numbness...burning...spasms...pain...from neck down L arm to L fingertips...all this WITH meds...so it was surgery time...he says I may have some nerve damage in that arm due to the degree of the symptoms I had at time of surgery and how long the nerves have been pinched but he believes he can get me back to at least where I can go back to work....I know that I have taken care of MANY patients with all sorts of diagnosis but I have only ever had a C-Section and Tubal Ligation....so I was VERY FREAKED OUT!!!!!
    In my experience(3 wks post-op)I found that it kinda hard to swallow...so I used pudding and yogurt to take my meds with then a sip of water afterwards...the incision is in the front of your neck but my doc used a crease I already had so my incision line shouldn't be that noticeable...cervical fusions are WAY easier than any other type of fusions on the spine...and as with any surgery there are risks...so far I am very happy with my results...I too was afraid of the "what if ________ spinal cord!!!" Rest easy...if you have a good doc...you should be fine...keep us updated...take care....
Sign In or Register to comment.