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ACDF c-2, c-3 and c-4 Help!

I have searched the forums and cannot find anyone with a similar situation, so in put from anyone would be great!
I am scheduled to have the c2-c4 fusion and decompression on 11/22/12. I am scared to death!
How long do I have to stay in the hospital, how much motion in my neck will I permanetly loose, how much pain, and what can I do ahead of time to help? ANY in put for this exact procedure would be extremely helpful.
Thank you.


  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 11/02/2012 - 7:59 AM
    I think you will be glad that you have found us. We are a very friendly bunch and will understand some of what you are going through, and the fears of having a spinal surgery along with the longggggg recovery.

    There is a thread for people who are having a November Surgery, so please do come and join us. That way you can get to know others who will be recovering from surgery at the same time as you, which is always helpful.

    I am having a fusion of C3/4 and C4/5 on Monday!!! It is getting very close now!
    Each surgeon has different ideas on what happens after surgery, so things may be different for you. I will tell you what I am expecting, which may help.

    I am going in on Monday 5th for surgery that day and expect to leave the hospital on Friday morning. (I am in the UK and here people seem to stay in a little longer.)
    My neurosurgeon has told me that my range of movement won't be much different from what it is now, because it is already reduced. I have read though that people can expect to lose 10% movement for each level fused.
    As for pain, well I don't know! I have heard though that it is less than for a lumbar fusion, that I coped with, so I am hopeful that it won't be too bad. Your pain should be controlled and if you are in severe pain you should certainly let them know. I certainly will!
    As for preparation for the return home afterwards, there are things you can buy and changes you can make to your house. There is a list which is long, but has all sorts of helpful tips on useful items and how to prepare. Please don't be overwhelmed by it. It covers lumbar surgery too.
    You will definately need a grabber tool to pick up things that you drop, bendy straws and lots of pillows.

    Here is the link to the list:


    I wish you well and look forward to getting to know you better.
  • Thank you jellyhall! I am going to try and find the November Surgery forum now. Thanks for the input.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:19 AM
    Hi there Karen:

    I just had the above surgery last Friday. I started a separate Journal on the subject. I have to update it for today, but have been trying to get in as much info as possible. I think I entitled it - ACDF C3/4 C4/5 Prep & PostOp Journal. I included a lot of tips that have really proven to be helpful to me.

    Please feel free to email me separately, if you would like.

    I completely understand your nervousness and anxiety. I had never been in a hospital before this surgery and one week later, I have to say I think I am doing well. I went to see the nurse at my doctor's office today to get the bandage across my throat removed and the first thing she said when she saw me was how great I looked after having had surgery just a week ago. I have to say, I feel great, too. Of course, I am healing and taking things slowly.

    One thing I would really, really recommend is download yourself pre/post operation guided imagery audio recording and start listening to it right away. Fall asleep to it each night! I only thought of it two nights before the surgery and found one for $9 on Amazon by a doctor who is actually out here where I live. I downloaded it onto my smartphone and brought that and earbuds to the hospital and right after being wheeled out of recovery into my hospital room, I asked for my phone. I put in the earbuds and what a difference listening to it made. Make sure you also have your favorite music on your smart phone. It helps!

    I also tend to play Words with Friends and Scramble and that was a wonderful distraction! My friends and family stayed in touch via texting - which was really nice. Since I cannot speak still, I still text and email.

    I think the biggest problem I had in the hospital was nausea from morphine. They changed it to Dilaudad after one evening and let me control giving it to myself - and I will say that I only used it twice - mostly at night when my mind was swirling.

    I was in the hospital from Friday morning until Monday mid-day. Didn't your surgeon tell you what to expect? The only reason I stayed the extra day was because the pain meds (we think) made my blood pressure escalate. I've never had high blood pressure before, so getting the meds out of my body seemed to make a big difference. I am not sure that is common.

    The collar is annoying. No shortcuts to that. Muscle strain at the trapezius persists for me, but I got a microwaveable heat pack during the planning stages and I wear it a lot. It helps a lot. Everyone has to wear the collar for different lengths of time. Mine will be a minimum of 6 weeks and a max of 3 months. UGH.

    My voice is a whisper. Still, one week later, I am still whispering. It takes time. Be patient.

    I have taken no meds - muscle relaxers/pain killers since I have been home. I have needed none.
    I was told I would have a sore throat for about a week after surgery - that never happened.

    Make sure you have soft, moist foods when you get home. Swallowing will likely be a challenge. I mostly have apple sauce, soups, oatmeal, cream of wheat, pudding, individual servings of sorbet in the freezer, popsicles, small bottles of water. SIP things slowly. Be patient. It improves.

    I have no idea abouut how much mobility will be reduced. Our surgery is slightly different and each outcome is different. Just make sure you give it time to heal.

    Do you know if you are going to have a Bone Growth Stimulator? My surgeon has me wearing one. I just started wearing it today and it is supposed to accelerate the fusion process.

    Everyone on here has been so terrific. Please feel free to ask any questions. If I am able to help, I am more than happy to do so.

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
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