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ACDF Anterior Cevical Disectomy Fusion

Hi i am 5 weeks after a 4 fusion of C4-C7 I have big problems swallowing. food pills Liguid is fine, I choke if i eat, What do i need to do
Sissy D


  • First, let me welcome you to Spine Health.
    There are many friendly people here and lots of us have had ACDF so can sympathise with you.

    I had my ACDF of C3/4/5 5 months ago and had swallowing problems for a while. Strangely, I found water quite difficult and thicker liquids were easier to swallow. I used to take tablets by using a thick liquid like a smoothie.
    Ice cream was the absolute best thing to eat and used to go down easily.
    I found that food with a sauce was easier than without a sauce. I remember particularly enjoying spaghetti bolognaise! :-)

    Even once my swallowing got easier, I used to make strange noises when I swallowed. Sometimes a 'croak' and sometimes a 'squeak'. I was seen by a speech therapist who felt that things should settle down. I still 'squeak' sometimes.
    I have lost my singing voice and even my speaking voice goes hoarse sometimes, especially is I talk for long with a loud voice. I am now being referred to an ENT surgeon. I hope that there will just be some exercises that I can do to improve things.

    I think you will find that things will get easier with time, but if you don't see improvement soon, please do let your surgeon know.

    Do stay and get to know us. :-) Having support while you are recovering is a great help and passes the time too.

  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi there, Sissy:

    I also had some initial swallowing issues. I limited my foods to smooth foods that would slide down easily. Drinking/sipping water was challenging, ironically, just like for Jellyhall. I had been used to drinking about 100 oz of water a day and after surgery, I could barely sip 8oz a day and many days, I just didn't.

    I found things like applesauce, mashed potatoes, smoothies, and cream of wheat and yogurt went down easily. I didn't try ice cream, but I did have fruit juice popsicles and that was fine. Real food was definitely challenging. Crackers and breads - FORGET IT!

    For me, I think those challenges lasted about a month.
    I used applesauce to take laxatives (which I did need), but not pain meds - because I was never in pain and didn't need them.

    It sounds like it just may take some extra time for the muscles and the area in general to heal.
    Stay calm. I say that because I noticed for myself that when I first felt the challenge of swallowing, I know the instinct is to panic - and I knew that the stress and anxiety couldn't be helpful. It probably tightened things up even further.

    What did your surgeon say about this? Have you told him/her? Does s/he seem concerned?

    Everyone heals differently. I lost my voice - completely - for 35 days! DAYS! But, I had no pain and no sore throat. My surgeon told me that was definitely a record. I just went with the flow and finally - after 35 days, it started to come back. My point is that everyone heals differently.

    I know it seems like a long time, but it will likely ease up.

    Please keep us posted!
    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
  • Same here, Sissy. It took a while to swallow properly and like the others, soft foods and liquids were the order of the day. It's really a brutal surgery to go through, and hopefully things will get easier very soon.

    Like Jellyhall said, there is a lot of great support here. Best wishes!!

  • I had ACDF 4/5/6 in 2009 and had the same issues, it gets better with time and pretty much was back to normal within 6 months for me. Everyone is different.
    Gary Goldsmith
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