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Two levels versus three levels

StatmanSStatman Posts: 4
edited 03/06/2014 - 8:10 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi, I am new here but I love this site! The stories shared are comforting and rich with information.

I will be having ACDF surgery on March 26th. Everyone - me, my partner, and the surgeon, are discussing doing 2 levels vs. 3. The levels for the two level are C4-C6. For 3 levels it would be C3-C6. There's significant degeneration with C4, C5 and C6, though not as much with C3...however, it's certainly on its way.

I know that the levels above and below take more stress after fusion, so I think doing three levels is the best choice. Given that, what is the difference in recovery time for two vs. three levels? I'm 33, sort of young to have this problem. However, I am very active (I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004). Will a three level surgery limit me much more than a two?

I am lucky to work for a place that gives Extended Time Off and a good Short Term Disability benefits package. I'm supposed to go back to work on April 9th. Is this too early?

I have to admit: a lot of this is new to me. I certainly didn't expect to have this condition so young. But that's the hand that has been given to me, and I am making the most of it. Thanks in advance for sharing stories or statistics or whatever else!
ACDF Recipient in Training - Countdown to March 26th: 18 days


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 03/06/2014 - 8:24 PM
  • Thanks for the links. I tried searching for average recovery time for two levels versus three, but didn't see anything. If this thread is superfluous, my apologies.
    ACDF Recipient in Training - Countdown to March 26th: 18 days
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • StatmanSStatman Posts: 4
    edited 03/06/2014 - 9:07 PM
    Yes, that's what I am looking for. It seems that personal experiences vary widely...really widely! I've enjoyed what I read so far. It can be tough to talk about some things. I hope I can return the favor after my surgery.
    ACDF Recipient in Training - Countdown to March 26th: 18 days
  • I had a 3 level fusion C4-C7 on January 20 and just returned to work March 5. A lot will depend on what you do for a living. I was cleared to work at home earlier but because I work at a computer all day, I just couldn't do it before the 6 week point, still having significant muscle spasms even today. I still have to wear a neck brace until the 3 month checkup or until fused. I take it off to drive which doesn't necessarily help the fusing but otherwise I'd be stuck at home. The only other time I take the brace off is to shower. Some surgeons aren't using braces but mine felt that with the levels involved it was prudent to take the precaution. If you do C3-C6 you would have different limits than I do because of the levels involved you may have more up/down and side to side limits. I was expecting the limits to be more drastic then they are, at least at the 7 week point for me.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 03/10/2014 - 6:39 PM
    when it comes to recovery time. There are so many variables, the actual procedure, the surgeon, the patient, etc

    The 'average' time period comes from (1) the doctors past patients and (2) patients that have had that surgery.

    I know for my ACDFs, 6 weeks was a time period when things all came together. I did initially have a 2 level fusion, which did lead to some instability in my neck which eventually had me go in for another ACDF.

    But in my mind, for whatever its worth, a 2 level fusion, a 3 level fusion, will still leave discs above or below fielding more stress. I've experienced that after having multiple lumbar surgeries and then cervical, the stress was directed to my thoracic discs, which eventually herniated.

    As long as your surgeon feels that the 3 level fusion is the right thing to do, then that is your option.

    But I would not rush into post-surgical activities until your doctor has approved them.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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