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Anyone had a 1 level ACDF with fusion?

MommyO2MMommyO2 Posts: 24
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am looking to speak with anyone who has had an ACDF on only 1 level with fusion. My main questions are...

How did it work?

Did you have any further problems caused by the fusion?

I have a DX of DDD in the C56 am awaiting an ACDF next month. I have also been given the choice of a Post laminotomy. I am trying to make an informed decision on the appropriate surgery. The doc says that if I do the Lami the problem will likely represent itself before long. The ACDF will take care of the "problem" but I have heard that it can put stresses on the adjacent discs causing new degeneration and further surgeries. Any living testimonies???



  • Have a look around you will find many members whom have had a one level fusion and are doing great with the surgery. There is always one problem on the forums, that after someone has surgery and does well with it, they no longer post and are out living normal busy lives. Depending on what the rest of your cervical spine looks like, will have a effect on the adjacent disc disease. With that said I have met many people whom had the surgery long ago(10 plus years), and had no future problems. With the lami, in the cervical spine, most are just buying time till they need a fusion. It also depends on how bad the herniation is if the lami will take. Did the surgeon say what the percentages where on both surgeries to correct the problem? It appears the most successful surgeries on the forums are the one level fusions, there are a few here and there that have had issues, but most a successful. If I was in your shoes I would take the fusion over the lami, and be done with it. If your not a smoker and in good health, your success rate should be fairly high. Keep us posted on what you decide to do.
  • I have looked around a bit but like you said ... It is hard to find the ones that are success stories because they aren't there anymore. Hence my shout out. I am so glad you replied. I seem to be finding testimonies from people with multi level fusions.
    So far the rest of my cervical spine looks good. The herniation is only 4mm and is causing no problems yet but the doc says with the DDD it will continue to go south. I am healthy, not overweight and don't smoke. Heck I rarely even have a drink. Super leightweight LOL. I am really hopeful this will fare well. Thanks again!
  • I had acdf less than a week ago so I am not sure if I am much help!! You are going to have stresses on the other discs anyway because of the problem with your one disc. I ended up having a ruptured disc, much worse than the mri showed. So far I am glad I got it done... But like I said It was less than a week ago!

    Also I am 23 years old.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • So sorry Donnabe to hear of your problems, and so young. :( Did you have a fusion? Any hardware? How is life with the collar on? Are you able to sleep in your bed? What if any tips might you have regarding prepping for the surgery and recovery? I know, so many q's but anything I can get I will. Thanks and hope your recovery is swift.
  • I have had both a collar and hard brace. Some will tell you that sleeping is best done in a recliner in a sloped position say with pillows propped up. Actually the collar and brace were welcome relief for what I had been going through. By the time I had my surgery it was getting very difficult to hold my head up, so kind of felt like a bobble head, so they came as welcome relief. Also they provided a more natural sleeping position. Have you gotten more than one opinion? If not I always suggest that you do just that. Also in the FAQ section is a list of 38 questions to ask a surgeon, see which ones of those you can answer. You can also look in the surgery forum at the top is a list of post op needs, that you might find helpful. The list is made up of members whom realized things that made life easier.
  • Awesome thanks!

    I haven't had 2 surgeons opinions but I can see exactly what this guy is saying and it seems cut and dry. Pretty straight forward. My issue isn't the pain per se. That isn't horrendous. Still sucks though. My major issue leading me to surgery is the weakness and muscle atrophy in my left arm. I have had all types of non invasive treatments available to me and nothing has made a dent. So it seems surgery is my ultimate course of action. I will definitely check out those lists. Thanks
  • Did you have a fusion? Yes

    Any hardware? Small titanium plate 4 screws.

    How is life with the collar on? I only have to wear a soft collar at night. Lots of times with a one level they don't make you wear a hard collar. I actually woke up in recovery and thought... Where is my collar?

    Are you able to sleep in your bed? Yes, but I still take the full amount of pain medication at night. I can sleep on my side with pillows propped up around me or on my back (I have other back issues so I can't stay like that for long) The pillow i was using before surgery was one of those cervical U looking pillows... I can't use it. I have a thicker soft memory foam one that works well.

    What if any tips might you have regarding prepping for the surgery and recovery? There is a good post somewhere about preparing for surgery.... I got a lot of the stuff on the list. I stocked up on ice cream and soft foods which I really don't need. I can swollow just find and have very minimal inner throat pain.

    The biggest pain I am finding is in my shoulder blades and back of neck. Also my back where the neck connects.

    So far I have had an easier time with this surgery than when I had my tonsils out.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Hi, and i've had 2 cervical fusions.
    1992 i had a c3/c4 fusion, and in 1995 i had a c5/c6 fusion.

    And i have absoutely no after effects from them.
    I would not even know i had them if it was'nt for the memories.

    Good luck with your decision, and i hope this helps you.
  • Thank you all for the input.
  • My first fusion as the C5/6, and I considered that surgery a 100% success! At a year out, I was basically "back to normal" from it.

    The bad side is a month later my C6/7 went, and that has not gone smoothly at all. From research on the net, most people if their other disks were normal are 'good' for 10 years or more before other levels have issues. My neck didn't read the research! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda - That's what I read too. Your problems are a bit traumatic in nature so your whole spine is probably not going to follow the rules. I really hope there is a solution and end to your problems in the near future.
  • Mommy02,

    My spine is just "catching" up from that crash I figure. (G) A spine transplant would be great! Other than that, I guess I will continue to help my surgeon put his kids through college! Lol! Sorry, couldn't resist. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had a single level fusion at C5-C6 almost 5 months ago with same diagnosis, but I also had kyphosis with foraminal and spinal stenosis.

    Am I better than before surgery? Yes, I am, but recovery has been very difficult. Try not to overdo it is all I can say. I am 42 and have 2 young children. Now we have my father-in-law visiting from Sicily and he doesn't speak English. My stress level has risen and making recovery slower than I would like.

    Muscles spasms post-op can mimic symptoms similar to before surgery. PT also can increase pain level. Everyone's recovery is different and depends on many factors such as age, health, how long nerves have been compressed, etc. Be sure to get at least 2 surgical opinions before you make a decision. Good luck! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • I private messaged you. My husband is a success story as are two of my co-workers. I am not. But, I have "degenerative" issues that he does not. His problem was injury related. My problem was age and health related. So, I would expect that success is determined a lot on such things.

    The neuro surgeon said statiscally, there is a 20% chance of having issues with adjacent levels. I fell into the 20%. After the first failure, there is only a 12% chance of other failures. Those are some pretty good statistics for recovery when you take into account how many people have this surgery. I watched while I was going through pre-op this time and was amazed HOW MANY individuals were getting ready for the same procedure. The hospital staff said they do ROUTINE ACDF surgeries four days a week. It seems almost as routine as tonsils and apendectomies.

    Don't stress. Just realize the healing takes a very long time. Your body will pretty much tell you if something isn't right. You will feel SO MUCH better even right out of surgery. I have had two surgeries now and this was true with both. My husband had one...it was true with him. My co-workers each said the same thing.

    I tend to overdo it and find myself being knocked back down for a few days from fatigue but it is incredible just how well I have felt once the pain and suffering from the issues of the disc rupture are resolved. Surgery takes its toll on you but still...it's worth it!
  • Hey mommy o2 i had a single level fusion to c56 and i am worse than before. I had mine almost a year ago, have worn the bone growth stimulator for the past 5 months and still NO FUSION. Unless u r in dire pain and cant deal with it anymore I wouldnt do it.
  • Wow 1 year and no fusion? Do you have some health issue that might prevent this? I Wish I could say my decision was that easy. Without the surgery I would lose my job and never be able to work in my profession again. I am only 35 so not an option. I have 60% degeneration and severe stenosis. Laminotomy seems to only be a delay surgery so Here I am. I really hope you find some relief. I realize there are many people who have success and some who don't I am REALLY hoping to be a lucky one. Best in recovery to you.
  • If you must have surgery, just try to find the best and most reputable surgeon in your area. Any surgeon you consult with will never guarantee success. You want to reduce your odds of having complications. I wish you much luck in your surgery! :)

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Lili_Inu It seems as though we have a lot of the same issues. I too have 2 young ones 1 and 4. This makes me so nervous. As if it werent hard enough to care for myself. How was it with the kids? I am trying very hard to prep the whole house for this. I will obviously need hired help when the time comes that no family is able to help. Unfortunately no family even lives in state. :( I have read some of the prep articles and threads but I would love to know what you personally came across that helped you. How long till you could drive? How long till all of your restrictions were lifted? If so. Anything. Many thanks
  • My kids are 5 and 7, so they are older and more self sufficient. Even so, we have no family around us and arranged for my husband and friends to help bring kids to and from school. A friend of mine cooked a few meals for me during the day the first week. My husband has been amazing! He did all the laundry and housecleaning. Now that I'm doing much better, I am doing the laundry and he's still doing the housecleaning. I was allowed to drive at the 2 week mark, but was told not to drive longer than 15 minutes. I found that having a cervical pillow around the headrest relieved neck pain when I was driving. My NS said that with a single level I did not need a collar. I was told to prepare food and freeze them. I never did that and we did a lot of take outs. Don't forget to have lots of reading materials, movies and anything you can do while reclined for the first couple of weeks. My NS did not want me to be on the couch too much, so I took mini walks everyday.

    Since you have a 1 year old, I would definitely get hired help. Can you enroll your 4 year old in a camp? Do you have neighbors with kids the same age as your kids? Maybe they can go there for a couple of hours for playdates. My neighbors have been very helpful and will offer to take my kids for a couple of hours here and there.

    My initial weight restriction was 5lbs. At the 3 month post-op visit, I forgot to ask about restrictions and have no idea. I'm staying away from heavy lifting in general. Also, based on my flexion and extension xrays at 3 months, he said that I'm fused. My NS has been very vague about the recovery since everyone's recovery is very different. I was told that the benchmarks are at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months. He said that if by 9 months I still have pain, it will stay with me. Others on this forum say 1 year or more. I'm not sure if he said 9 months because of my age, health and it was a single level.

    You can PM me if you want more information! :)

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Thanks! I cringe when I think of the recovery. My husband is so good so I don't worry about when he's home. I am just the type of person who doesn't know how to sit and watch others do things for me. Nearly impossible. It will be very difficult. I would look forward to the walks if it weren't 100 deg outside. I just really hope it is all worthwhile.
  • Well, I am scheduled for the 13th. I will let y'all know how it goes. Thanks for your help.
  • Yes! Let us know how things go and we are here to support you when you come out the other end! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
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