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Is ASD inevitable after ACDF surgery?

Caddyman32CCaddyman32 Posts: 6
edited 05/18/2013 - 4:19 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello All,

I'm'a new member, first-time forum poster "and" recipient of'a single-level (C5 and C6) anterior cervical fusion with instrumentation (titanium plating with screws attached to both vertebrae) surgery a bit more than two weeks ago. I was sadly in'a car accident in early March (rear-ended "hard" while stopped at'a light) and the result was two herniated discs - one of which pushed on my spine and nerves, causing wild pain (initially) and shortly thereafter, numbness/weakness in my bicep and wrist. I had no injuries, no pain or weakness prior to the accident. I'm'a 33 year old male, in otherwise excellent health (s'a far as I know anyway).

The surgery came and went and without complications. I'm still at home recuperating as I write this (again, a bit more than two weeks post-op) and don't plan to return to work for another two weeks yet. The numbness I mentioned is gone. Indeed I am essentially pain free post-op (other than'a bit of expected weakness and wound soreness in the days immediately following surgery). Indeed, in talking to my surgeon leading up to the operation and from my lack of pain post-op, I thought this procedure (a single-level fusion) was about as easy and routine'a surgery as ever there could be...until I read posts on this forum and others, as well as several scholarly studies. The experiences that people have posted about failed fusions, pain in the short-term and over the long-term, herniated discs adjacent to those fused, follow-up surgeries one year, five years later...it's all making me think that in fact I've had'a "damaging" procedure with disabling after-effects that will impact almost all facets of my life "for life!!"

That all said however, and getting back to the title and main point of my post...has anybody heard or read recent scholarly studies regarding adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) and its subsequent degenerative disc disorder/disease (DDD)? In addition to scholarly study, have your respective surgeons and personal experiences made you feel this degeneration of adjacent discs is inevitable, and so that really ANY fusion surgery, be it single-level, double or triple, will mandate future fusions? Scouring the net, I've found several studies from the late 90's/early 2000's through about 2005 or so that provide the stats most of us have heard; "10 - 20 percent chance of ASD about 10 years post-op." However, in discussing it all with my surgeon, he shrugged it off. He stated that most studies done showing a high chance of ASD post-fusion are now old and with inconclusive findings; that more recent analyses (as in "very recent") has discredited that work. Put another way, it's the view of my surgeon that I/we shouldn't worry about developing ASD - and in my case specifically - even tho the disc beneath my fusion (C6 and C7) is slightly herniated!

I ask this question not "just" to support or discredit my surgeon, but because I'm an avid weight-lifter/amateur (non-competitive) bodybuilder. Among the reasons I elected to go forward rather quickly with surgery (a bit more than two months after the accident) is that the weakness/numbness in my bicep prevented me from lifting, and the surgeon stated of course, that the fusion would remedy the issue. If ASD and DDD are "facts" of fusion surgery, then permanent alteration of my physical life seems inevitable, and in an effort to minimize potential strain on my remaining discs.

What'a y'all think? Thanks in advance for your responses. :)
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