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5 level fusion awaits me... :(

katrina57kkatrina57 Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am told that I have cervical stenosis symptoms with myelopathy. My NS says I will need a five level fusion from the front and a plate place there and during the same surgery, posterior cervical laminectomy with rods installed. Has anyone else encountered this to this degree in one day? My NS says after I wake in the mornings, then I put my collar on and it will only need to be on for 6 weeks. I think this is a miracle, if true. I will be in the hospital for at least five days, though. Please let me know what your experience was with recovery, pain and limitations. Please let me me that it is possible for a fast recovery and limited limitations. Thanks for your support!


  • Howdy Katrina,

    Welcome to Spine-Health!!! If you look at my signature, I am having 5 levels done tomorrow - cervical into thoracic. I already have two levels in the front, so he is leaving that as is unless it changes during surgery. Laminectomies C4-T1 and fusion C4-T2.

    My Dx for this many levels: Instability due to failed C6/7 fusion, Myelopathy and Pseudarthrosis. I'll try and find this thread once I'm "with it" to let you know how it goes. What levels are they talking for you?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • And for me, my surgeon (Orthopedic spine surgeon) is keeping me in a hard collar for at least 3 months!! Bone growth stimulator right out of the box....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am fused L1-S1 - 5 levels but it is lumbar not cervical. It is a long recovery for lumbar but I was back to work 3 weeks after surgery.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • My prayers are with you and the best of luck. Please do, share your experience with me. As far as which discs are involved...i'm not sure anymore. One surgeon said only three levels and they were c3-c4, c4-c5, c5-c6. I do know that i am having problems with c1-2 and c2-c3, but also c6-c7. I spoke to him briefly on the phone while shopping. All I know is that my arms, hands, shoulders and killing me and very heavy along with my legs. I stumble all the time. Hope your surgery is a success!
  • WOW... you must be in a lot of pain and your able to go back to work? Thats wonderful. I hear taking bone from your hip is better, but much more painful than the surgery. I too am having a lot of problems with the back, degenerative problems and seem to be getting worse. I need to go back for another MRI, since my last one was early last year.
  • Yes the bone graft from the hip is much more painful than surgery and the pain lasted for years with me.

    I was in really good shape before my surgery and have a strong core so that really helped.

    I swim and was able to get back in the water when my incision healed. It is so wonderful to be weightless!!

    Please feel free to ask more questions or PM me. Good luck!!

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • My C1/2 are good, C2/3 not so good but stable for now (osteophytes and disk bulging there), C3/4 looks good, the rest...they get lamied and locked down tomorrow!!!

    Glad to see that you aren't being done cervical to thoracic. This will be an adventure for sure. I got like 6 consults before I decided. All were pretty much the same end result. I knew my neck had become a mess, just didn't realize 5 levels worth!!

    Once I am lucid, I will be posting. :) Hubby is going to bring my laptop to the hospital on Wednesday....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hey Hot Rod! LOL, no pun intended there!

    What...did you go to surgery early? Thought it was the 11th?

    Just wanted to pop in and let you know I'm thinking about you and hope everything goes well!!!

    Keep us posted!

    Tina >:D<
  • Chuckle Tina. Look at the date, still went in on the 11th silly. (G) Remember, it turned out to be an interesting day to say the least. I just wonder who pays when a surgery causes a hematoma and they have to go back in? Probably my insurance, but we'll see I guess?? Hummmm.....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thank God they got that hematoma out, who cares who pays for it; as long it's not you! Are you in a lot of pain or maybe I shouldn't ask. I decided to have my surgery in April. I signed up for aflac and any pre-existing conditions you need to wait 6 mos. Gives myself time to pump up for this extreme surgery and at the same time listen to you recoup and get back on your feet. Please keep me up to date on all of the steps this facility is taking and when you start P/T. Are you sleeping with a halo collar, did they have you get out of bed? You can swallow and talk okay, right? But they went in through the back. They want to open front and back... :SS talk to you soon. :H
  • They actually put me in the Miami "J" collar with the extended breast and back plate. It is pretty comfortable actually. The foam inserts are more comfy and soft compared to my Aspen which I didn't mind at all either.

    I'm glad to see you now have a "Plan B" for your insurance and provider - that has to feel good right there.

    As for swallowing, for the first time in just over a year and a half, that "thumb" feeling in my throat is gone, I can swallow multiple pills with zero choke out problems, and I've now had 7 meals, not ONE choke out or even beginning feeling of a choke out! I am blown away with just that - we talked about that hopefully going away, but no guarantees of course. Wow!!!

    So, no halo (thank goodness), voice is stabilizing, choke outs almost to the level of a normal person, got my "walker and wheelchair" license training done! (G) Life is looking real good. They have to coordinate with the facility (I'm allergic to Latex) for my room, transport from here and so forth. We are estimating late afternoon to early morning tomorrow.

    For sure I'll keep updating. There are like three (getting sleepy) threads going, so it will be in there somewhere convenient. ;)


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I have pain in the neck and at times shoots up the skull to the forehead, feeling like a migraine headache, pains in the shoulders, carpul tunnel in both hands, extreme weakness in both arms and legs and now a new pain; sharp stabbing pain between my wrist and elbow on right arm. Apparently, it's nerve pain...what can I take?It started two days ago and seems to be getting worse. I have my wrist brace on and it does nothing for me. It hrts to raise my arm and type this and even lay my arm on the desk. Getting frustrated! :''( :( ~X(
  • I had a 4 level fusion with the plate in the front almost three years ago. Not an easy surgery. Bone was taken from my hip and I had and have no problems from that. I have chronic pain everyday. I also had both wrists fixed that was easy. I understand that recovery takes almost a year. But hey I am not in a wheelchair. My dr told me the surgery was not to get rid of the pain. Hope all goes well for you.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Welcome to Spine Health!! A couple of questions for ya? You appear kinda youngish!! What was the cause of your cervical issues??

    Have your doctors expressed concern about you waiting till April??

    As you can see by my little picture .... I am a post ACDF with posterior rods and cage ... they harvested hip bone (which was nuttin compared to the surgical pain).(and in my opinion - the only way to go to insure fusion) This all was a 1.5 after a failed two level.

    I hope you are managing your pain and taking it very easy now .... you don't want to cause and more potential damage.


    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • Thank-you for the welcome, this site has been great with information and support. My NS did want the surgery done in december and did say I should not wait. I applied for Aflac to assist with additional expenses that will acrue during and after the surgery. The waiting period for pre-existing is 6 mos, that's why I'm waiting till April. Of course, if I continue to get worse, I may not be able to wait that long. This neck problem originated from a diving accident when I was 16 and with age, it got worse. I didnt start feeling pain until 2003 and thought nothing of it. Now, hmmm can't ignore the pain I'm in and I'm unable to work as a result of it. I wish I was able to take it easy, but life is a challenge and most are leaning on me. So I do what I can for all, at least until I am unable to do so any longer. Question for you: after three yrs of post surgery, are you still in pain or are you back to being yourself with no limitations? How long was your recovery period and how long did you wear the brace? DID they do both anterior and posterior the same time? (That's what I'm scared about) Thank-you for your response and support! ;)
  • They won't be taking from the hip (thank-goodness) and yes I know that would hold better, but the pain I can do without! One the the NS said the same thing to me, that I have severe arthritis and this isnt anything you can do with that. This new NS hasnt mentioned weather pain will be eliminated, but probably not. But as you say, it's either surgery or become incontence and/or paralyzed...hmmm surgery it will be, but after the holidays!
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Like you my cervical degenertion was the result of multiple (like 4) MVA's (motor vehicle accidents) over a 20 year time frame .... about 5 years ago my neck kinda just started to fall apart. I started with a 2 level anterior only with cavaver implant and front plate only.

    Unfortunately after 1.5 years of pain and problems ... it was finally declared a failure ...before that like a dummy an being the a type personality I used to be ... I went back to work 12 days after surgery.

    The implants (spacers impacted down into my vertabrae and I wound up with non-union (failed to fuse). So a had to get the entire thing redone +++
    another level ... corpectomy (removal of vertebral bodies with cage instead) and posterior rods - 12 screws.

    I was in the hospital 9 days. Admitted on a Friday (they harvested the hip bone - removed the old plate and placed the new plate with my bone as spacers - then on Monday they flipped me over and did the posterior rods - then on Tuesday they removed the new plate did the corpectomies with cage and replaced the new plate. So it was 4 surgeries over 3 different days.

    I was in ICU knocked out for three days Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday - Discharged on the following Sunday.

    I have been in chronic pain since the surgery ... made it back to work for a little over a year and then had to call it quits and file for SSD .... Chronic pain and heavy meds does not a good employee make.

    Unfortunately ... what started as as "simple" surgery ... has become a life changing event ... have been through many bad bumps in the road ... but I can still walk talk ... and type.

    Don't let any of this scare you off ... I am the exception and not the rule. I have another level that has gone bad and will probably need surgery again in the next year ... and have developed 3 blown lumbar discs ... but hey ... nobody ever said life would be easy!!

    Here's a link with a little pictorial for comparison purposes.


    Stay strong - have faith - and learn they meaning of the word convalesce.

    Warmest Regards,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • :S You know I've seen 3 NS and 1 OS and everyone has a different view. One says, oh ur fine, you don't need surgery any time soon ( that was last yr), the other said you will alwys has chronic pain from the arthritis and will put cages in to separate the discs, the other says he needs to fuse 3 discs, plate in front, rehab for a week, return open back fuse again and plate in back screwing to front and now this one says 5 levels, plate in front, open back same day, rods and screws, in hosp for 5 days. The last one is from an excellent hospital Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan and I considered to go with him. I am in the process of filing for disability and of course been denied and waiting for the appeal. But you are right, even without surgery, my life has changed. I do have good days and I have lots of bad days. Stress brings on most of the bad days. The other day, I couldnt even type, as the pain in the arm was killing me; today the pain is gone. Do you experience that...good days and those bad days; or is it me? You really went through a lot for it to be right, if it right...is the pain everyday, constant? I sure hope not, I dont deal with pain too well! Thank-you for sharing your story, I really do appreciate it and yes I know we all heal differently and experience pain differently.

  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364

    Unfortunately ... my pain is there the moment I wake up till the time I fall alsep at night .... Meds dull the pain and muscle spasm ... but it is pretty much always there.

    Stress (which is a constant situational occurance) on a daily basis certainly had an impact, as does the cold weather or rainey weather or change in barometric preasure.

    People talk about returning to their "normal life" after surgery - for many of us its about learning how to adjust to a "new normal" with an entirely new set of undersirable and new challenges.

    Again remember I am an exception and not the rule .... many people have ACDF procedure and can and do return to a normal life without long lasting effects. They are the ones who you see have their procedures and no longer post because they have returned to their previous life. (lucky me ... I have always been exceptional).

    Regarding the difference in your treatment opinions .... I kept getting consults till I found two that actually agreed on the treatment(s) ... and then moved in that direction. Do you have two that had agreed yet?? There is strength in numbers.

    Did you get an attorney for you SSD claim?? If not I would reccomend it .... It is a long tortuous process that professional assistance is needed for.
    Another infomational link for you!!


    Warmest regards,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

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