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C6-C7 Fusion

customdyccustomdy Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi, I had a cervical fusion on C6-C7 one week ago. They did use a plate and screws and they harvested the donor bone from my hip. I was fitted with a Aspen Cervical Collar that I have to wear at all times except showing. After 1 week I am doing fairly well, still some difficulty swallowing and some hip pain, but the collar is driving me insane, sleeping is almost impossible. I have attempted sleep in a recliner chair ever night since coming home from the hospital. My surgeon told me 12 weeks in the collar. From reading other forum posts and internet articles I see when plates are use may surgeons do not require collars or only require them for a few weeks. Any idea why I would be required to wear this unbearable thing for 11 more weeks? Thanks



  • It really depends on the DR. as some are just more cautious than others...

    I've had 3 cervical fusions (two levels each time) and had to wear the collar for the long time after my first surgery.

    It's really about the less your neck is moving, the better/easier it heals. There has also been studies about scar tissue how it can grow faster without the collar because of the movement.

    So I can completely empathize with you.

    When is your first post op appt. and x-ray?

    I would speak with the Dr. then and ask if there can be a compromise....which is what I did my other surgeries...I would take it off when just sitting watching tv as long as it's directly facing the TV and had my head leaning against the couch.

    I also went out and purchased a Tempurpedic contour pillow to sleep.

    As well as I bought a long thin pillow (also tempurpedic like material) that goes from my inseam to my ankles and put this in between my legs when laying on my side.

    And finally have a smaller pillow that goes in between my arms while on my side.

    So when I sleep at night I keep my spine completely aligned. This has also helped with keeping the rest of my spine in decent shape.

    I would definitely keep the collar on when sitting up without leaning your neck on anything.

    And ABSOLUTELY follow the directions for the not getting in a car or driving. This is where it can be very dangerous if in the slightest fender bender and just the movement of the car is too bumpy.

    So...I really no it's a pain! LOL...pun intended....and hopefully you can work it out with your Dr. to find some times where you can take it off or even switch to a softer collar after a few weeks when in the home or sleeping.

    Just try to think about the more you do now....the better chance you have at a great recovery!

    Good luck...
  • It may also have to do with your bones. If they were soft you would need to wear a collar.

    I only had to wear a soft collar for about 2 weeks. I had a one level fusion c4-5 with a titanium cage and synthetic bone material and bone shaved from my vertebrae.

    I wore the soft collar at night for about a month, but started waking up with it flung across the room!
    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
  • i had my surgery on the 16th may and have a hard collar that i have to wear for 6 weeks (until post op assessment and then will be told if i have to continue wearing it.) also given a soft collar to wear in shower and at night! however it is only the last few nights i have been able to lie down, have become a master at propping myself upright and dozing off! lying down and being able to swallow proper food were welcome arrivals at the same time, i do hope you improve daily and are soon able to get comfortable enough to sleep deeply. i am a believer that deep sleep is very healing. good luck :H
  • Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, my first post-op is tomorrow, this gives me some additional items to discuss with the doctor. Thanks
  • Good luck on your appointment. One thing to keep in mind is while the surgery is the same, as far as technic the actually reason can be different. For example you might be in a collar as you have some movement and they need to be sure your not moving so the fusion will take. Also sometimes given each individual and the available bone, they may not had as tight of a anchor as they would like and thus the hard collar is used. Having had surgery multiple times, I have had it both ways with the soft collar and the hard collar. Whatever you do just be sure to follow the surgeons orders to the letter, you don't want to do the revision surgery which is much worse than the anterior approach you had. They fact they took from your hip suggest there was a reason they were afraid of a non union from the onset, so it sounds reasonable you would be in a hard collar. Maybe your images will reveal something different today and they will replace it with a soft collar. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Had the post-op today with X-Rays, everything is good. The Dr. said 12 weeks in the hard collar is to give time for the fusion to take place. He said fusion normally starts to occur at 6-12 weeks and he keeps all of his patients in a hard collar for 12 weeks so I guess this is just standard practice for him.

    I did get some more details on how the surgery itself went as I do not remember seeing him that day. He said there was alot of pressure on the nerve for the left arm so he expects in time that the issues with my left are will continue to improve.

    Thanks for everyones support.
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