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Very scared about Neck Operation and paralysis

katrina8kkatrina8 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everybody,

I am new to the forum and I have to say it is fantastic !!

I have two prolapsed discs in my neck C5/6 and C6/7 and the surgeon has recommended an ACDF surgery. After understanding the procedure I am absolutely terrified that my spinal cord will be damaged and I will end up totally paralysed !!

I am in so much pain and dont know how to cope much longer !

Does anyone know the true percentage risk of total paralysis resulting from this op ? somebody said to me 1 in every 400 which to me is not good !!

My surgeon wants to replace the discs with a cage ??

Has any of you guys had that done ?

I hope you dont think I am being silly about the fear but I a truly am scared ****less !!!!

Thank you for anybody who can give me some info



  • and welcome to Spine Health. This is a great place for information and the support that you will receive from people who are going through similar situations to you, and so can understand.

    Sorry to hear that you are needing an ACDF. It is a standard surgery for serious neck problems and there are lots of people who get very good results. Those people don't tend to stay here for long because they feel better and get back to their busy lives.

    I can't tell you the percentage of risk of this surgery, but perhaps your surgeon could. I know before my lumbar fusion I was feeling very nervous and so had another appointment to talk to him. It was very useful at calming some of my fears.

    Replacing the discs with a cage and bone graft is very common.

    It sounds like you are in a lot of pain so, as this is what your surgeon is recommending, this is probably the way to get your life back and reduce your pain levels.

    No-one here will think you are being silly about the fear of surgery. Spinal surgery is a 'biggie' and the recovery can be long (less so with cervical fusion).

    Keep reading here K, and hopefully there will be others who have had this surgery and can reassure you. Of course there will be some stories that are still having problems, that is why they are still posting here. This means that this forum has an unnatural proportion of people who are not totally 'fixed'. Just remember that most people who have had this surgery have stopped visiting because they don't need the support any more.

    Do you have a date for your surgery yet?
    Where are you located? Because of the time of your post, I wonder if you are in the UK like me. :-)

    Have you looked at the information pages on here. For me, I find that understanding the procedure I am about to have, helps me to feel calmer. My imagination can always make things seem more scary, so I would rather know and be prepared for what will and may happen.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better. :D

  • Howdy Kartrina8,

    Welcome to Spine Health!! I've had two fusions, C5/6 and a little over a year later, C6/7, now facing revision (redo of the whole mess) plus 1-2 levels.

    My first two fusions, I didn't know about sites such as this, and like you, I was freaked out that I could be paralyzed by someone "oopsing" near my cord with a sharp object. Fortunately that proved to be unfounded. Our stress levels tend to be a bit over the top pre-surgery. We tend to throw all the gremlins in the mix!!

    Both of my fusions to date where from the front (anterior), but my revision will be front and back. I'm a little surprised they are putting a cage in, but guessing a lot of instability is why? Mine are both with a plate and a 'wing thing', and a bone graph (cadaver). Are they going in the front and back then?

    Please toss any of your questions out, as one of us should be able to help you out via a patient perspective. Again, Welcome aboard!

    Oh, and percent wise, I too do not have an answer for you, but I think the odds are more in our favor than you listed?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had a 4 level ACDF C3-C7 8 weeks ago. It was my first spinal surgery, and yes it was scary to think about, but I've been in so much pain so long I was relieved that it was finally considered surgical. My surgeon came highly recommended (and I got 3 surgical opinions). My surgeon showed me the cage and titanium screws and plastic spacers - he keeps a set on his desk, and explained the surgery.

    What really helped me is that between the surgeon and his nurse, I really understood what would happen before, during and after the surgery. I even made sure I knew what tubes etc. to expect when I woke up. This site has a great list of things to take care of before the surgery and what to have available for after.

    My surgery and recovery has gone as predicted. I have to be patient with the recovery process as we all do. There are risks, but for me, the potential benefits outweighed the risks. Depending on the issues in your neck, if nothing is done, it could eventually result in paralysis.

    Although we can't make the decision for you, we can share our experience and this site is great to ask questions and get information. Welcome.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
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