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ACDF five levels without screws or plates

Hi. On February 18 I had a five level, C3-T1, fusion done. I just received my x-rays from my personal physician and I see that there are no screws or plates in my neck at all. I put a call in to my surgeons office today but have not received a return call yet. Has anyone had this kind of surgery without the hardware? It was successful - my pain and numbness are gone. Although I'm having neck pain now and some arm pain that I did not have before. It comes and goes so I'm hoping it eventually goes away completely. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.


  • Had a 3 level in Dec 2012 with 3 metal spacers and a plate with 8 screws. Hope all goes well 4 U, I'm having stiffness and mild neck pain but none any longer in arms or legs....
  • my 1st surgeon wanted to use a type of hardware on my neck that had screws that went into the vertebrae from the spacer. i don't remember what it was called, but i also seem to remember it was made of plastic as opposed to titanium. i'm sure i am not explaining it right. but the screws were going up and down. as opposed to a plate and screws that went in horizontally to your spine. he said it was a new type of hardware, and he was just starting to use it. when push came to shove, i went with a different surgeon who preferred to use the screws and plate method. maybe that's what you got instead of screws and plates?
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 04/25/2013 - 4:04 AM

    That is a big ACDF that you have just had done. Great that your pain and numbness have gone. I think that neck pain especially is very common after an ACDF. My surgeon warned be beforehand that I would have it. Nerves don't like to be messed with so pains all over the place are common after spinal surgery. They seem to hurt and tingle as they are healing. I found this under my chin which was very numb after my surgery. My surgeon warned me that it may hurt and tingle as the nerves regrew and he was right.

    It is good that you have called your surgeon for reassurance and hopefully he will get back to you soon.

    I had a 2 level (C3/4/5) ACDF done last November. I didn't have a plate or screws. My surgeon used two titanium cages that had 'teeth' which gripped into the vertebrae above and below. The cages had holes in that my own bone would grow through to fuse. I didn't have a collar at all even while I was in hospital. I was a bit concerned about his 'minimalistic' method but he explained how it would work and said that he has been using it for years with good success.

    On my x-ray the titanium cages look white. Do you have this on your x-ray?
    I hope that you will hear from your surgeon soon. Do let us know how he explains it to you and what he has used.
    Take care
  • Thank you all for your input. I did call back and spoke with his nurse who said that he did use screws and plates and she will be sending a copy of the surgical report. @ Jellyhall - she also told me about the nerves having to reconnect and that's why my pain comes and goes. I also have a numb chin but that doesn't bother me. She reminded me that it could take up to 6 months for all of that to heal and a year for the bones to completely fuse. This is my fourth fusion surgery. My first two were done by an incompetent surgeon with no relief. Then I found a great surgeon at the University of Michigan who found that my screws were loose and no fusion had taken place in the 5 years since my first surgery. He fixed everything and my back has been great ever since. Once again, thank you for all of your input and advice!
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