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Third neck surgery - terrified

Three opinions, all the same. I am so scared. No promise of any pain relief, no chance of getting any feeling back in my hands. I understand that surgery from back of neck is much more painful. CT scan shows I never fused from C3-4 surgery on 3/12. Also had C4-7 done in 6/04, C6-7 never fused either. So new surgeon will address both. Basically plans to "shore up" these levels with wires, cadaver bone, & more hardware. I am having a hard time trusting doctors these days. At least this one seems like a human being and is not sugar-coating anything. I posted back in October, Tamtam responded with a lovely email. I have to say, her empathy & realism (along with increasing pain) drove me to seek another opinion. Don't think that anybody really gets it unless they have been through it. Much appreciation Tamtam. Hopefully a year from now I will finally be feeling better. Maybe this is the doc who can fix the other's mistakes - don't want to bash anyone but both surgeons lied to me. Told me their work was great & there was no reason for me to be in this kind of pain. So all, be persistent. Only you know what you are feeling & what is normal for your body.

Be Well
lynn cutler


  • mbtaichimmbtaichi Posts: 8
    edited 02/06/2013 - 5:52 AM
    Hi , I to have had three surgeries the last one from the back of the neck . I wouldn't say it was any more painful than the ones from the front . Try to stay positive .
  • How was the result mark?
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 02/10/2013 - 7:58 AM
    Hi there, Limbo:

    Since you have had experience with failed fusions, has your surgeon spoken about Bone Growth Stimulators? My surgeon had me wear one - (basically, little electro pads that I put on the back or sides of my neck that sent little pulses which drew more blood to the area - and it is blood that stimulates the fusion of the bone.)

    I just had 2 levels C3/4 and C4/5 ACDF done at the end of October, and just three months later, I was told that it is nearly fully fused. Since I have had no other experience with fusions other than being told fusion can take up to a year, I attribute some or maybe most of the acceleration of fusion to the stimulator.

    If your doctor can or is open to recommending it, let me know in a PM. I can give you some info on the one that I was given and also info that won't cost any out-of-pocket expenses once your insurance picks up your part of it.

    Also, I know you're scared - and it might be helpful to listen to some 'guided imagery' audio. I placed the ones I downloaded from Amazon.com onto my cell phone and started listening to them a few days before surgery, immediately after being wheeled into my hospital room for the 3 days I was in the hospital - and then at home while I was recovering from surgery. It really helped for those especially anxious moments one goes through. And, it helped me with restful sleep.

    And, while I cannot prove that the guided imagery was a part of this - I had absolutely no pain right after surgery, even when I had them take me off of the morphine because I was getting nauseous, or any pain ever. Studies show that listening to guided imagery audios improve the success rate of healing from surgery - and all sorts of things.

    Also, are you a cigarette/tobacco smoker? If so, that can contribute to failed fusions.

    Anyway, I wish you well with your surgery. I'd ask about the bone growth stimulator because it appears you are at high risk of not fusing.

    Keep us posted, please.

    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
  • Cindyx3CCindyx3 Posts: 144
    edited 02/11/2013 - 2:38 AM
    Is it considered a failed fusion? Why too did they do two seperate surgeries on you? I had c4 - c6 all at once. Did they explain that to you? I'm soo sorry!
  • Cindyx3 said:
    How was the result mark?
    The result of the 3rd surgery , a Foraminotomy at C6/7 due to nerve root compression wasn't what I would call a success. I still have pain and tingling in my left arm, plus the arm becomes very tired very quickly causing muscle spasms and cramp. I did some research on this procedure before the op which suggested that it only had a 70-80% success rate . I have an appointment with my surgeon next week, I have no idea what the next step if any will be.
  • So do you mean they operated from the back of the neck? Why did they do that? Is it better or worse then them cutting your throat open? I'm sorry to hear that and after my first surgery all my pain never went away and now I'm faced with surgery again if it doesn't get better. It is now the c6 c7 and wonder if it's worth it?

    Feel better!
  • Hey Francine,
    Thanks so much - did have a bone growth stimulator for both surgeries & wore it faithfully. Quit smoking for first surgery back in 2004. Have severe osteoporosis which may be the issue. Will definitely try the guided imagery cd's. I'ma big believer in things like that. So happy you fused so quickly!
    lynn cutler
  • I hope it all goes well for you. I am taking deep breaths for you right now. :)
    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
  • I am breathing right along with you. Enjoying my last days of freedom. Know it will be months before I can drive a car, walk my dog, cook a meal, etc. So everyday things have become a source of gratitude.
    lynn cutler
  • I am so sorry to hear about unsuccessful cervical surgeries. I'm having my third spine surgery on Tuesday. Each time my surgeon needs to cut me I hate it. But everytime has been a better than expected success. He is a very good neuro surgeon. I on the other hand not the greatest spine to try to fix. I have.
    DDD, osteo., spinal stenosis, spondylosis, multiple spurs cervical, lumbar, and now T1&2. So I thought about your issue is get a better surgeon, have all test redone (MRI, myogram, CTs, ECG) everything and have them done by the best radogolyist<misspelled sorry. Start over and explain to your surgeon you want as much of your life back as is possible. Good Luck to you.
    2006>C6-7 anterior diskectomy/fusion/plating
    2007>Neuro-stim implant
    2012>C5-7 posterior cervical foraminotomies w/lateral mass instrumentation
    2/26/13>LeftC7-T1(T2) Foraminotomy; removal of hdw & replace;C5-T1/2 Post Instr
  • Vickie,
    Thanks for caring. I went for pre-surgical testing & neurology appointment yesterday. Everyone was very kind & professional & had good things to say about my surgeon. I was able to do alot of research.So, am feeling confident about everything but recovery. I know that your posterior operation was just last year, how did it go? Also noticed you have a spinal cord stimulator. Does it help significantly with your pain?
    lynn cutler
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hi lynn,
    Good luck on your next adventure and hope all goes well for you. You are very lucky to find a surgeon that you are confident with and accepted your case. Sometimes it is very difficult to find a surgeon willing to take on a patient that has had prior c-spine fusions that were successful or not. I have been going
    thru a similar situation except my prior fusion is successful. Having adjacent joint failure issues but I believe I'm gaining ground. TamTam has been of great support for me too!
    Take care and keep us all posted on your success!
  • Hello Lynn

    I have had 4 spinal operations - 1st one was PLIF + rebuild of L4/5/S1 in December 2008 followed by ACDF C3/4/5 in September 2010 then finally in December 2011 Posterior CDF C5/6/7 and Facet Joint Plating. I still suffer incessant neck pain and tremors in both hands plus right leg are getting worse. Due to this I am seeing yet again a Neurologist who hopefully will give me some answers. Last time I saw him he tested me for Parkinsons including a Brain Scan and fortunately he gave me the all clear. Good luck to you in your quest. I live across the pond in UK in Hertfordshire although I was born in Scotland.

    Best wishes to all in recovery mode.
  • I love your outlook! Never heard of anyone calling surgery an adventure. I know how fortunate I am to have this doc agree to take my case. Have a much better outlook this time around. Went in on a trauma last year, after many months of pain & no one believing me. Ended up in the ER not being able to feel my arms or legs. Boy, was I angry & frustrated. This time around I did my homework, got multiple opinions. Still scared. I have a friend that says anger = fear. I believe that knowledge=power. I choose to get better. Be well.
    lynn cutler
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