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6 months ACDF post op, cracked plate

neeniclesnneenicles Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
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.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    My plate didnt crack but I had 2 shattered screws and my plate was backing out putting pressure on my esophagus. I was told that it is rare to happen but it does. With my esophagus being compromised of rupture it was straight to surgery for me. The plate had to be removed but they were unable to remove 1 screw which is still in the bone. Has your doc talked about removing the plate? Good luck and keep us posted
  • HI Susan

    The Doctor has not said anything yet. The worst part is that fusion still has not happened completely. I hope he has an answer, because the pain is too much for me.

    So sorry you went through that. How do feel now?
  • What type of imaging did he/she use to look at the hardware? It is important as to see all of what is going on. Did they say if there was bone growth on either level and it was in the process of fusion? If the pain is bad enough go to the ER, you will definitely get some help there. Does the surgeon now know the plate is cracked in half? I might be a little confused as to whom dismissed you and then decided to do a x-ray? The other thing you could do is see a gastro doc or a ent and be sure the plate is not messing with your esophagus or your cords. I had several hardware issues, and thankful my surgeon removed the hardware, on the one occasions I did have bare with it till fusion took place. As the fusion was showing signs of positive growth and they knew it would stable to take the hardware out. when you see the doctor in three weeks what does he or she want to see you for? The only other thing is they might be contacting the manufacture of the hardware. But if the symptoms or pain get to bad, the ER would be the place to go.
  • I had 2 fusion surgeries (ACDF) a little over a year apart, and at 5 months post op I started having swallowing and voice issues along with choke outs. My ENT found that my C6 vertebra cracked, thus allowing movement and messing with my esophagus and vocal cords!

    I got with my Neurosurgeon 2 days later, and he was of the attitude that I wait a year to see if it would "self resolve". I have a plate for the first fusion, and a wing thing for my second fusion (see my avatar). I am now a year and a half past when the crack occurred and the issues remain. I have a surgical consult with an Orthopedic spine surgeon in just over 2 weeks. This will be my third opinion - so far 2 for 2 for surgery. My neurologist also said my bottom screw is backing out...yummy.

    I'm kind of surprised given fusion isn't complete with a cracked plate they aren't fast tracking your treatment? Do you have a brace to wear if even to comfort you a bit? Please let us know how it goes. Sorry you are going through this. Gentle support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • #o

    HI TamTam

    Thanks for the response.
    Let me clarify my post, ( forgive me im a new poster :))

    I was having really bad neck pain about two months ago. I knew something was wrong because i was doing pretty good postoperative up to that point. I went to see my Surgeon and he ordered an MRI with and without contrast. The report was fine. So he told me it was healing pain. I accepted that. Then about 3- 4 weeks ago, it got worse. I held out and tried to take the pain. Couldn't do it so I went to see him again last week. Again, I was told I was doing good and really should move on. I insisted on an X-Ray that day to ease my mind. When we looked at it together, I think both our mouths dropped to the floor. Thats when the doctor clearly saw the one plate cracked. He asked me if something happened or if I was hit in the neck. Which of course neither is the case.
    Now, I am calling it a plate. I am unfortunately, not even sure what hardware was used in my ACDF. I am requesting a copy of my surgical report. I hope the report names what was used and the manufacturer. I can tell you I have four small squares inserted on angles with what appears to be pins or small screws. This is from my observation of the xray. The pain is somewhat bearable with medication, and im now on a Medrol Dose Pak as well.
    The fusion is in process and there is bone growth, but not complete as of that days xray.
    Of course, if it gets unmanageable or other symptoms, ill go to the ER. I have no idea what his intentions are, but I have a feeling ill be there sooner than the three weeks :)
    I just cant believe this happened, and am happy I found this forum.
  • HI Brenda

    I feel so bad for you ! The esophagus and vocal cord issue is undoubtedly painful.
    I feel I should have been given immediate attention too, but the doctor did not. He told me to take it really easy and call if it gets worse. When it gets bad i lay down with my neck pillow, and just relax.
    I even have been on google for hours, looking for pics similar to what I saw on the xray, but i have not found anything yet.
  • needicles,

    Lol, don't feel bad about the Google search, I've YET to find what my wing thing is called! (G) My hubby, ENT and GP feel my crack happened due to "dissimilar" hardware in my case.

    As for the esophagus and such, I've choked out so bad in my sleep that I've "shock" awoken with my hands at my throat like a person who is choking on food!!! My MRI is not a pretty picture, but my NS is ignoring it - don't want to admit something is wrong, right doc? Don't get me wrong, I have no ill feelings towards my surgeon, but I felt blown off. After talking with some of my much respected friends on here, and too now 2 consults, I know I am not dreaming.

    That being said. If your doctors are NOT giving you the time of day, and YOUR body KNOWS when something is wrong...keep searching for a doctor that will "look" at you and what is going on. Don't give them that wiggle room, okay? I see a cracked plate without a complete fusion sort of like me with a cracked vertebra between hardware without a full union as similar. A crack is a crack, is a crack!!! Keep after them, and if they blow you off, keep searching!! I feel I might have found "the" surgeon this go around. It can happen for you.

    Don't get me wrong, NONE of us want more surgery, but hell...we want to be as symptomatic free as we can be, and deserve it!! Please let us know how it all turns out. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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