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

Got 4 Level Posterior Cervical Fusion?

flutechicfflutechic Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Spinal Stenosis
New here... would love to chat with those who have had a posterior cervical decompressive laminectomy with foaminotomies, fixation and fusion over multiple levels. Whew that's a mouthful...huh? This is the surgery I'm contemplating. for C3-C7

Get to know my spine:
Cervical: 'Fairly' severe stenosis of the spinal canal at C4-5, 5-6 and 6-7 with narrowing to 7.5mm (is this alot?) at those same levels and bilateral foraminal stenosis at same levels as well.
Lumbar: Laminotomy at L4-5 in 2003
Currently foraminal disk herniation at L5-S1, and stenosis at L4-5

I'm writing about the Cervical stuff. I'm Experiencing pain, tingling, numbness, some weakness and some hand clumsiness. No strong evidence of Mylopothy yet. Except I wonder if some of my leg cramps and pain are related to the cervical stenosis or the lumbar disk issues.

As of tonight, I'm grappling with the decision to go foward with the surgery I mentioned above NOW, before my symptoms worsen, or wait. I am a flutist. This orchestral season I experienced pretty bad flair ups (neck, shoulder, arm pain, tingling) and even notice some loss of finger coordination while playing. Thank goodness flute isn't my only form of work, but it pays and is my true love. I planned to have this surgery done in April (before next season starts in October) but have held off, as I'm having less flair ups since I'm playing less right now.. and quite frankly, I'm scared.

I'm wondering if others with similar surgeries can tell me how they're doing after the obviuosly long recovery.

How much neck movement have you lost?
How many months before you could hold your arms up (like to play an instrument?)
Do you have more pain or less pain now that you're recovered?

Thanks in advance for any input. FluteChic



  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around there are several of us multi-level fusion on the forums. There are also a few of us with myelopathy. One thing I would ask is how many opinions have you had regarding this surgery. There is one difference on lumbar and cervical surgeries. Using the posterior entry on the cervical spine is much harder recovery. The standard approach is anterior or the ACDF. Also you need to understand more is not always better. So I would seek multiple opinions if you really need all those levels done. They say for each level you typically loose 10% but I can tell you as a 4 level myself I don't have much ROM at all. Now I have had posterior surgery on three different occasions, and the posterior muscle atrophied on me. If that muscle goes it is one of two muscles in the body that once they are gone it is gone, so I have been told. I am not trying to scare you from a surgery that you might really need, but rather for you to become the most informed you can. But I am sure most members here will tell you on the posterior approach the recovery is harder. In my opinion you need a good year for the full effects of the posterior surgery to see where your at.

    Just thought i would stop by and welcome you to spine-health if there is anything I can do, don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I am multi-level cervical person with the posterior and the anterior approach. Tamtam is right when she says the posterior is a much harder recovery and along with her the muscles in the back of my neck have died. That being said I am now back to work in a office setting full time. My ROM is pretty good, the only areas i have any issues is looking to the left and looking up. This is a huge surgery you are thinking of doing and I agree that a few opinions by other doctors should be given. It seemed as if my surgeries never went well and I have had a total of 5 cervical surgeries to date. There are many of us on here that once we had surgery we required surgeries to follow. Good luck
  • couple questions for you

    why do you want this surgery?

    what is causing your stenonis?

    what reason/rational does your surgeon give you to have it ?

    i have quite limited ROM, up, down , side to side and i havnt had ny surgery yet, and all of cervical with issues and most severe from C4 - T 1, with cord flattening and fine trace of CSF from stenonis

    yes it is scary stuff and 2nd opinion could probly benefit you
  • I really appreciate the feedback. It's concerning to hear about the muscle atrophy, loss of ROM and often the need for repeated surgeries.

    Flower had asked some questions... so I'll try to answer.
    I've had 2 additional opinions at this point. All 3 surgeons have indicated that they feel from this point on that surgery is warranted, due to the fast progression of my stenosis over the past 2 years brought on by disc herniations and general DDD, my particularly small canal (from birth), the fact that it's affecting my livelihood (or part of it), and PT and other treatments have not been effective. All of them also agree that I can hold it off for now, but will end up needing it, as we can see the progression over 3 years and 2 MRI's.

    My hope is that the surgery will reduce or eliminate the pain, numbness etc, affecting my neck, shoulders, arms, hands... and reduce or eliminate the hand weakness and clumsiness, as this affects my ability to rehearse and perform. And, stop any long term affects of the stenosis, radiculopathy and cord compression.

    6 months ago, the surgeon and I talked about doing surgery this April, after my orchestral season. So that I could 'control' the timing... and possibly return to performing in the late fall early winter. However, my research and the many posts on line, have made me wonder if I'll end up in worse shape than I am today, and not being able to play professionally any longer at all. Or live in constant pain.

    Of the 3 opinions,2 surgeons said they would go posterior and one said anterior. I have high regard for the surgeon who did my lumbar surgery, and as conservative as she has proven to be, she suggests the posterior 4 level approach I described in my first post. She says she wants to go in posterior due to the location of the stenosis, the number of levels, and the ability to get a good fusion.

    So I'm beginning to think I'm crazy for considering doing this before I absolutely have to. I have a list of follow up questions into the doc already. I plan to continue to research, and make the smartest decision I can. Thank you all for listening. If you have any other thoughts, I'd welcome them.
  • decision to make , and a very personal one.

    i can understand the rational for the posterior approach to have better access for your particular probs

    i would think you will get improvement for the radicupathy as most surgeons are in agreement that this being caused by pressure on a nerve/s is usually sucessfull
    however, as your surgeons should have made you aware there are no guarantees that surgery will resolve everything
    this is obviously the part which makes surgery a difficult decision

    however, be guided by your drs and yes read as much as you can to educate yourself and definatly go in armed with lots of questios to your surgeon

    for instance, what degree are your disc bulging?, wat time frame could you expect before surgery became immenant? that could be a hard one to answer though, as discs can sit there for ages not progressing, or can protrude further, which then you would become more symtomatic

    its a difficult decision as your surgeons are not saying this is something thats needs immediate attention
    keep up doing your reaearch and ask plenty of questions, your doing the right thing doing this

    in my case , surgery is needed as without , will lead to quadraplegia, my cord is allready flattened at 2 levels due to stenonis by osteophytes, however, i also have more levels with damage

    my surgery would be similiar to your surgery , but surgeon would also have to get the osteohytes off my cord which has compressed my CSF to a fine trace and flattened my cord, i dont like the idea of that as he has to remove then from my cord, i also have to have a lumbar fusion as my lumbar also multi levels is severe

    just thought , other thing to ask, what agent would they use to fuse , as in your own bone or cadiver bone

    take care and good luck
    oh and every person has there own unique specific issues/probs in thier spine , which can range fron just one issue to multiple issues that need to be addressed , hence why there are so many varied outcomes to spinal surgery, its not a one size fits all

    good luck with your decision

  • Thanks Flower for your gentile support. I wish us all to be free of pain, and living our best lifes.

    mlr, Flutechic
  • Dear flutechic,
    I'm curious as to what you finally decided. I am a flutist/professor, have 3-level herniated discs/stenosis/myelopathy, and also Chiari malformation. I had an ACDF of C4-5 last summer but I'm still having a lot of trouble with C5-7 (and it has gotten progressively worse, to the point that I can hardly use my arms). There was some disagreement about what to do, with my neurosurgeon here recommending laminoplasty and my Chiari surgeon recommending anterior fusion C5-7. I'm probably going to do the laminoplasty (once my summer class is finished). I've been told that I probably couldn't play with such an extensive fusion, and that my voice is risked whenever we go in from the front. I sing as well. Did something work for you?
  • Dear flute, I had a 360 fusion on C3 - T1 on April 6. I am now 9 weeks Post. After surgery I had to deal with swelling from C5-6 which affects your arms and am finally getting full range of use now. If your looking to be ready by Oct I would do it now
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.