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2 level ACF scheduled for 12/14

PH MomPPH Mom Posts: 80
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi...just saw the neurosurgeon today. He had hoped to be able to do a foramenotomy to relieve numbness and tingling in my right arm. After a CT Myelogram this past Friday, the plan changed. I will be having fusion at C5-6 and C6-7. I'm pretty freaked out. I'll have a hard collar, and a bone growth stimulator (for 6 months, 4 hours a day).

Please tell me it's not going to be as bad as I think. :) I'm a 49 year old female, with a history of DDD. I had lumbar stabilization with a good result 5 years ago in December.



  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many others whom have had the same surgery. As far as not going to be that bad, well the thought of the surgery actually for most is far worse than the surgery itself. But it is major surgery and does come with risk. But most will wake with the pain gone, of course a soar throat, while others the nerve pain may take sometime to go away. You will of course have surgery pain to deal with, though. Now it will also depend if you have a stability issue, which sounds like it from the hard collar being ordered, at least that was my case While ACDF is done for most surgeries of the neck they are done for different reasons. I will say the collar does help with a sense of security, though post-op. Do you know what type of bone grafting material they will be using? Some choices are allograft(cadaver bone), autograft(your bone), and or some other synthetic version or combination. Autograft is the gold standard with multi-level fusions. Something you might want to look into given your getting a bone stimulator right off the bat.

    One of the biggest issues with the surgery, is the muscles spasms that can happen post surgery, so be sure they order you a good a muscle relaxer. It is not uncommon for many to have the surgery and begin feeling so much better, they go beyond the restrictions to only have set backs. So you most definite want to follow your surgeons restrictions such as no bending, lifting and twisting. There is a thread, in the surgery forum, at the top, of post op needs, while the list is complete for both lumbar and cervical it will give you a idea of things you will need. One important note on the collar is to be sure to get a extra set of pads, as they begin to get a little disgusting without them.

    The bone growth stimulator is not that big of a deal, if it is the medtronic version. Looks like a big old necklace off some science fiction movie. You have to wear it the first hour for it to continue for the rest of the four hours. So for example if you put it on, and you get a phone call and stop it before the first 60 minutes are up, you have to start over again. The have a tendency to mess with phones(don't call your phone company and tell them your phones are jacked up and pay the service charge, just a caution from experience). Other than that is not that big of a deal. On my first surgery, I actually went back to work wearing one, as it is uncomfortable to sleep in.

    I think all in all you will be happy you made the decision to have surgery, provided you have researched your surgeon and his/her credentials. Ask questions as they come up and someone will be along to answer. I am always available by pm, also. Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Look forward to reading more of your post.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I have to second everything that Tamtam said - such as the anticipation is most of the time worse than the surgery and most of us wake up with a lot of symptoms gone.

    I also had a hard collar and it can be comforting because you feel like your neck is supported. You'll probably move on to a soft collar after four or so weeks and one of my favorite jokes on here (although it seems to be tre) is that when you wear a hard collar, you really get the royal treatment from people when you go out in public and see friends. With the soft collar, most just think you're suing someone and are less sympathetic. LOL Odd dicotomy, but true.

    Like Tam said, be sure that you adhere to restrictions off the bat - after my ACDF (3-lvl) I got home feeling like I'd never had anything done and my hubby actually asked me if I could even act like I just had major surgery. That was only for the first two days due to the medication thay put into the surgery site, then once it wore off I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. That's a normal reaction and I'd say the first couple of weeks are when you need to stay on top of your meds to stay ahead of the pain and let people take care of you.

    My biggest wish for you is not only a successful surgery, but that you have complete confidence in your surgeon - that's imperative.

    I'd say one of the major things on the post-op must have lists is a grabber, a recliner, and pillows with a comfy blanket. I also had (and still have) a rolling table next to my reliner so I didn't have to get up for meals or to use my laptop.

    One last thing - try to measure your recovery in weeks, not days, at it's a fairly long recovery, and you will tend to want to do things on those good days during recovery that you shouldn't and will just set you back and have you recliner-bound. Just be sure to follow restrictions and not overdo when you start feeling better.

    Take care and please keep us posted. Like Tam, I'm only a PM away if you need me for any reason, questions or to vent.

  • Thank you so much for your post. Odd, but my surgeon never mentioned the bone graft! I put in a call to this coordinator today, so I will find out. I have a lot of confidence in him, since I had such a positive outcome from my lumbar surgery he did 5 years ago.

    I keep second guessing myself, 'do I really need this surgery?'...then today, while I was doing pre-op at the hospital and had to do a chest xray, of course my arm went numb. And, during the EKG, lying flat, my arm went numb. Those are the times I need to remind myself, 'yes, I need this surgery.'

    I will definitely keep you updated.

    Thanks again.
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