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C4/C5 and C5/C6 ACDF

t84att84a Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi folks. I'm due to have ACDF in early May. I've discussed the procedures with two very experienced neurosurgeons who have two very different post-op approaches. One says I'll be in a neck collar for a few days and while riding in a car while the other says I'll be in a rigid collar 24/7 for 6 weeks. As you can see, the first option is very attractive to me. He also says that I could resume cycling (pedal) after 4 weeks. My only frame of reference is that my brother had a single tier fusion probably 15+ years ago and he was laid up like 6 months but I'm pretty sure they didn't do braces then. I'm very confused and don't want to jump at Dr. "A" just because it sounds better when they are, in fact, proposing the exact same surgery. I'd appreciate your real life experiences and any explanation that your surgeon may have offered for his/her approach. Thanks


  • Hi Ken,

    My Sister-In-Law and I had the same surgery in 2009 as you are looking at not too far apart from each other. Her doc pur her in a rigid collar. I don't remember how long, but I know it wasn't months. Mine sent me home in a soft collar and said to wear it a few days and the wean myself off it.

    Two different approaches from two different docs. What does the doc say that is going to perform the operation? I would ask him/her and have them explain why they believe in using one over the other.

    Trust me, things have advanced so much since your brother had his procedure ... and probably since 2009 when I had mine. I know you are in good hands and will do just fine. We are all here rooting for you and hope you will keep us updated. Say strong.

    Rassy's Story
    Under House Arrest Without the Ankle Bracelet :-)
    The remarks I make are strictly my own based on my personal experiences.
  • next month and my doc in NYC said I'll be in a brace for 2 weeks, and then can go back to work. And I have other issues (not neck related...I've ised a wheelchair my whole life due to joint and muscle deformities). I've learned in my life that ortho surgeons (i've had over 30 surgeries) are a little bit like contractors, you need to multiply time frames by 2 or 3.
    - Vin

    3 level ACDF, c3/4, c5/6/7 in May 2012
  • Thanks for the comments. As far as I understand, they are bothe doing the same thing except I think one doctor is using synthetic bone and the other a donor. Both are removing the disc and using plates. It seems that just about every doctor except one of mine is saying minimal neck brace. I sent him an email asking him why other doctors are not utilizing the brace. Thanks again for your valuable input.

    One nice thing is that I just went out and bought a nice Lazy Boy.
  • Hi, Again, Ken,

    Yes, even after amost 3 years, I still cannot sit in or on a hard chair. Just drives my pain level from 0 to +10 in no time. I go for my LZY-Boy!!!!

    I noticed that you are to receive either a synthetic or donor bone. My ACDF was done with stem cell blocks and some hardware for support. I had no harvesting of bone fron my hip or a cadaver. As to which is most effective, I don't know. They all have their on approaches. All I know at time time I was referred to this NS is that he was the best in Indiana and happened to practice in Indianapolis wher I lived. He was very involved in research and development of ways to make spinal cord disk replacement improved, better, and less of a painful recovery time. I have since relocated and miss him and his staff dearly. One of the few doctors I have seen in my lifetime with true compassion for his patients ... they and their release from pain came first. As before, stay strong and keep us posted.

    Rassy's Story
    Under House Arrest Without the Ankle Bracelet :-)
    The remarks I make are strictly my own based on my personal experiences.
  • The NS I am referring to is from John Hopkins in Baltimore, a pretty distinguished hospital. He just may be more conservative. Hopefully, he'll reply to my email.
  • After reading a lot of the stories here, I'm seeing my doctor Friday to talk about waiting a while. I'm surprised and taken by the number of people in some serious pain. My neck and arm bother me but I'm able to function and don't take any pain medicine. My MRI is pretty definitive that I need surgery but I'm not really in that bad of pain and my numbness in my thumb and index finger is minor and sporatic. I kind of feel guilty posting here. My heart goes out to those here that are on serious pain medicine. I hope you find relief soon.
  • Ken,
    If you are going to need surgery, I'd get it done as soon as possible to cut off any potential long term damage. I wasn't in that much pain at all last summer, still played sports. Then in November all hell broke loose in my neck. Arm pain, leg pain, numbness. Got an Mri in late Jan, seen a Neuro in march, getting ACDF one level (c4-c5) on the 23rd. It's getting worse daily too. Good luck.
  • I'm thinking that I'll try to hold off until the fall.
  • You probably will be fine until then, but just because you aren't in pain does not mean that you're free to do whatever you wish. The MRI doesn't lie. One wrong move could be very bad. Good luck. I have my post-op tomorrow. Never had any kind of surgery in my life. Little nervous.
  • Hi Ken,

    No reason for you to feel guilty at all. All of us experience pain differently. Mine developed over a period of about 2 years from level 2 to constant level 10. As for decisions regarding surgeries and when to proceed, only you and your doc (but mostly you) can determine that. Talk it over more with your doctor. We can only relate our experiences to you. My NS told me he wished he could have seen me a year earlier than when I was finally referred to him. I had been going through pain intervention and its procedures, none of which gave any or little relief from pain. Come to find out NS did new MRI and it showed a bone spur at C8/T1. It was removed.

    I agree with stupidneckns. I wouldn't wait too long, but YOU have to be comfortable with your decision, too. Whatever you decide, we're here in the bleechers cheering for you! Keep us posted.

    Rassy's Story
    Under House Arrest Without the Ankle Bracelet :-)
    The remarks I make are strictly my own based on my personal experiences.
  • Still not relief from any pain...I have been suffering since the surgery, granted it helped with the left arm "dagger in my arm" pain, however, my neck is m uch worse. Over the last month I have had 2 cervical epidural injections, some relief but doesn't last real long. The first injection lasted 2-3 weeks, just had the second yesterday, and I am hurtin pretty bad today, it usually takes a few days to "kick in" but when it does I have substantial relief...not sure how long I can get them, but I know I am treating the symptoms, not the problem. Multiple MRI, result that I have arthritis where the fusion was completed...not sure what to do next...Any recommendations out there?
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