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6 months ACDF post op, cracked plate

neeniclesnneenicles Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Any input will be helpful. I am 6 months post op from ACDF, 2 level fusion. I had the anterior approach with the plates between and pins to hold them. I am not sure what hardware the surgeon used. I know that on the X-Ray, they are positioned between the bone and positioned on an angle.
Now, heres the kicker, I was doing ok, had some throat issues for four weeks post op, that went away with medrol dose pak.
The operation was a complete success as far as my arm and hand pain. I am 100% since day one with that!
My neck has been quite painful, but as of three weeks ago i was in unbearable pain. I begged for an xray after being dismissed and told that I need to move on.
Well, my doc was shocked! One of the plates or whatever it is in there, CRACKED in half! Undoubtedly causing my pain.
Has any ever heard of this plate breaking like that.
I dont even know what is to come because he just gave me pain meds and said to carry them with me at all times, and hell see me in three weeks. He said he never saw this before. He didnt know what to say.

If anyone out there has had this issue please respond, i just dont know what to think. Can a cracked plate stay there?


  • Neenicles,

    I'm new here and don't know what to say but I am sending you lots of good thoughts and prayers.

    I am looking at the same surgery as you just had done.

    Hopefully, you get the right help soon.

  • Hi Neenicles,

    Welcome to Spine-Health! Sorry you're in such pain. I have never seen a cracked plate issue before, myself. I feel bad that you were just kind of dismissed by the way it looks. I wish you less pain, and to be fixed quickly!

    Please let us know how you make out, okay? :-)


    Welcome to you as well, Graciegirl!
  • Graciegirl

    Thank you for the prayers, it means alot. Im new here as well, hoping to hear from someone had a similar situation, that had a good outcome as well
  • Hello Everyone:
    In January 2011 I had a 4-Level ACDF (C4-C7). All went well, had X-Rays at 2 weeks, all hardward in place. At 6 weeks, saw Surgeon, X-Rays still showed all hardware in place, no issues. Felt like a new person. All immediate post-surgical issues (choking, pronounced problems swallowing, acid-reflux) cleared. Signed out to start Physical Therapy.

    Went to first PT session (I should have been a bit nervous when the PT said she'd only had one ACDF person before) and within 24 hours, I had serious headaches, choking, developed acid reflux, upper body pain, weakness, and dizziness (falling to the right). Called the Physicians Assistant working for my Surgeon, was called in to see Surgeon, was "interrogated" by head of Physical Therapy Department and a CT Myelogram & Bi-lateral Epidural at C4 were ordered. (Not really sure why. Was told it was for diagnostic purposes). Myelogram showed no issues with any of the hardware (plates or screws), Epidural at C4 did nothing. Met with Fellow working with Surgeon for follow up, symptoms were now far more serious - could not get either arm above shoulder,joints were swollen, unable to use hands, wrists, arms, balance and coordination issues, problems with tolerating hot and cold, constant pain (I've had Fibromyalgia for five years, previous well managed with Tylenol, then low dosage of Dilaudid), debilitating headaches, choking, vomitting. Rigorous exam started an FM Storm/Fog, but Swallowing Test ordered (with Speech Pathologist) and C7-T1 Epidural scheduled.Given yoga-like exercises to do in order to prevent frozen shoulder. Was able to progress through and open both shoulders, but arms, wrists, hands still swollen and problematic for use. Results of Swallowing Test showed Acid Reflux, delay in ability to swallow, Candida infection in back of throat. Speech Pathologist noted in report that I fell over twice on my way to exam room. C7-T1 Epidural this past Thursday. Procedure tolerated well, Celestone (Steroid) used without any additional meds to hasten the disbursement of the steroid. Advised that Monday/Tuesday (yesterday or today) I would, if it was going to happen, notice an improvement. Saturday I felt really ratty and was unable to sleep. Sunday, incapacitated by pain (both FM and swelling, severe choking, nausea and vomitting. NOTHING put a dent in the pain.Still unable to sleep. Radiologist who did C7-T1 advised me to book appt with Surgeon in two weeks. First available slot was mid-September. Have been to GP to get full blood work as my GP & Pharmacologist think something else is wrong (i.e. Thyroid problem started after PT Session, Auto-immune reaction to PEEK, Vascular problem). GP prescribed Nexium (Acid-reflux)
    and Oravig (Candida) as a band aid pending results of all bloodwork. Still cannot sleep properly. Less than 4 hours in 24 since last Epidural. Getting to the end of my tether. Cannot get to Surgeon, his PA, his Asst - no one to make follow up appointment (now late September). Without sleep the FM gets further into Storm/Fog and pain mgmt is almost impossible. Now taking Zofran to keep food down.

    Has anyone ever heard of Thyroid being "damaged" during ACDF? C7 plate is almost on top of Thyroid. Symptoms of Hypothyroidism very similar to what I'm experiencing.

    As FM is thought to be an autoimmune disease, has anyone heard of a "rejection" of PEEK?

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I am currently taking the straight pharma route (I don't want to mix pharma with herbal/homeopathic). When pain is intolerable, I use a Sumadose Dose Pro, but its effectiveness is weakening.

    I hope no one else feels this way.

    It is nice to meet you and I look forward to any feedback.
    Cheers & Best Regards,
  • What hell to go through. I have fibro, CTD, arthritis, and osteoporosis but in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in. I have concerns about even thinking of this surgery only because of these other health issues as you are facing. Can you just go to the ER and maybe it would expedite things? I'm sure the more knowlegeable people on here will offer you more than I can. Just please know I am bumping up prayers for you.

    I have insomnia due to fibro and CTD and it puts you in a hard place for sleep with other meds.

    Wow....you have had your share thats for sure ! Have they put you on Prednisone yet? Thats what cleared my throat issues. As far as PEEK rejection, i suppose the body can reject any foreign object. When I feel debilitated with pain I go for a swim. It does wonders

    I wish that you feel better soon
  • Graciegirl

    Im afraid that if I go to the ER, they'll keep me. I know it sounds funny, but I am not mentally ready for some other surgeon or doctor. I can wait it out till my next appt.
    I am still functioning. Laundry, dishes, food store, etc.
    I also have children, and dont want to freak them out.

    I have insomnia at times too, but I take tylenol PM, in place of my endocet, at bedtime so I sleep. I helps me sleep for about five hours. Have you tried Tylenol Pm?

  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I have never heard of a plate cracking/breaking either, but I know many have had their hardware removed or replaced for other reasons, such as broken screws, etc.

    My feeling is that they'll want to go back in and replace the hardware or else wait and see if you fuse and if so, the hardware is not necessary.

    Either way, although I know you're in a lot of pain, I've heard that hardware removal/replacement is not as bad as the ACDF surgery, so try to feel some comfort in that.

  • Wow that is pretty scary! Why do you have to wait 3 weeks? He should see you asap.
    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
  • had 4 level acdf surgery on August25, 2011, since have had this wierd sensation that there is a golf ball in my throat. Went 6 months with no voice, last week it finally returned. BUT still have some shortness of breath, pain across top of shoulders and right shoulder blade. If I overdo it at all, I have numbness in little fingers, and my voice gets weak and i am dizzy. Went to pt and was okay for a while, then the dizziness and weakness set in. I also have Graves Disease and am hypothyroid, take a new liquid gel capsule with the levothyroxine. Alot of trouble swallowing, have to be really careful. Ever since the surgery, it feels like there is a lot of mucus in my throat, and have a closing sensation. Is this normal after this surgery. Could there be an allergy to the titanium plate and screws? Thought that by now i would be considered recovered and happy. The surgeon said that there was some swelling to be expected , and these felings would eventually subside. The x rays show that the fusion is taking and it is nice and straight. Will this ever be normal again? Thanks
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