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Horner's Syndrome and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Palsy caused by (ACDF) Anterior Cervical Diskectomy

JamieingbJJamieingb Posts: 4
edited 08/28/2013 - 6:43 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I recently had 2-level anterior cervical Discectomy and fusion (ACDF) at C4-5 and C5-6 with significant additional damage to C-6-7 (which was left untreated)on 7-26-2013. As a result of this surgery I have discovered that the sympathetic nerve was compromised causing HORNER'S SYNDROME. This was not something that I was advised pre-surgery as a possible side effect. I am quite devastated at the outcome and am searching for ANY ADVICE OR INFORMATION regarding treatment and/or additional testing that can be done. So far, the surgeon tried denying any connection to the surgical procedure but has since claimed that I am only the 2nd patient in his 20 years that this has happened to. Regardless of his statistics, I would like to know if anyone who has dealt with this outcome has any advice or information as to what I should be doing/requesting/reporting. I am concerned with the "time will only tell...lets wait and see" treatment. Please help me with any links, suggestions or specific tests or specialists I should be requesting. Thank you so much for any help! p.s. I also developed severe obstructive airway blockage requiring an immediate CPAP Machine as my breathing was stopping on average of 12 times per hour and have yet to speak (no voice) at 34 days post-op. I was referred to an ENT Specialist and after examination on 8-28-13 I was advised that I also have damage to my vocal cords. Neuropraxia of Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Palsey. I am now being referred to a Laryngologist for treatment or repair. Anyone who has had this or a similar surgery that can fill me in on realistic post-op complications and timeframes before things return to "tolerable and normal" will be greatly appreciated! Thank You in advance!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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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 Jamie,

    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I'm afaid I can't help much as I am waiting for a 2 level ACDF in the UK, but I think you might get more of a response if you post in the Back and Neck surgery area. Not sure if you have also seen the search facility at the top of the page; there are a couple of other threads related to horner's, for example: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/horner-syndrome-and-droopy-eyelid-acdf-surgery
    (hopefully the link works...!)

    Best of luck for your recovery

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 08/29/2013 - 7:03 AM
    Welcome to Spine Health,
    Julia has given you some good advice to do a search on the forum for other threads related to Horner's. I do know that there have been previous discussions about this problem after neck surgery. Sometimes it resolves itself and other times it doesn't. I do understand that you want to be able to read of other's experiences with this problem and have an opportunity to talk to them. I hope that someone will come and post who has experienced this and that they will be able to reassure you.

    As for the recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy, I don't have experience of that but I did have a superior laryngeal nerve palsy.
    I think that was an easier problem to deal with as I still had my speaking voice. It has been my singing voice that was affected mostly and only occassionally my speaking voice would go croaky or squeeky.

    I saw an ENT specialist who videod my vocal cord and showed my husband and I how one side was not working and had atrophied compared to the other. I have been seeing a voice therapist and doing exercies. It was explained to me that we could get the surrounding muscles to work to compensate for the lack of movement in the right side vocal cord. I have been working hard and doing the exercises regularly and my singing voice is coming back. I am so encouraged and relieved.

    I hope that you will have a similar experience and that your voice will come back and become stronger again. I also hope that your Horner's syndrome will resolve itself with time.

    I do think that you should get some responses about your problems here in the Recovering from Surgery area.
    I will see if I can get someone who has had this problem to answer here.

    I have now found a couple of old threads about Horner's which may have some helpful information for you.


  • I know that I am late to the party. Sorry. I don't check in as often as I should. I still have Horner's. I have a friend that underwent a single level 4/5 acdf and she only had Horner's for about 9 months. Mine is a little better at times. It looks worse when I am tired or more heavily medicated. I try to wear glasses to cover it up now.

    Sorry I know it isn't fun to have this on top of all of this other stuff we are dealing with. Rude people ask me all the time what is wrong with my eye? Like I don't know I have a problem....

    Anyway feel better,

  • I had cervical spinal stenosis surgery last Feb. having 5 discs removed. It was major surgery and I developed horner's syndrome in my right eye, which has not improved at all since then. It's affected my life, although the surgeon and opthamologist acted as though it's no big deal. My eyes always feel tired and when I get tired, my right eye (the one with HS) practically closes. My pupil is much smaller now and I'm very sensitive to sun. Sometimes at night when I'm watching TV, I actually have to hold my right eye open to see better. It has caused blurry vision at times. I have none of the other symptoms of HS, but this is bad enough. I'm looking for a surgeon that specializes in this type of surgery so that hopefully my right eye can somewhat match my left eye and improve my vision. I'm very frustrated!
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