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Long term throat tightness post ACDF C5-6

Hello, I had my surgery about 18 months ago and from the first post-op day I had the feeling that something was in my throat or pressure pushing against my throat. I was told that it was probably due to the intubation and would go away in 3 months or so. Well, it's been 18 months and it's still there even more so than earlier and it seems to be more on the surgical side of my throat. There are time when it makes me gag for no reason. I can swallow food without choking, so that's not the issue. I just feel like I have a band around the right side of my throat all the time and it's very disconcerting to say the least.

Just wondering if anybody has had the same post-op problem I am having and if so, what have you done about it?

Connie C


  • Hi Larose54,

    I had a 3 level ACDF on 5/28 and have been dealing with the same issue since. I have difficulty swallowing and as a result am stuck indefinitely on a liquid diet as the other stuff will not go down. This is not the first time I have had to deal with this, either. I had the same problem back in 2010/2011. The technical name is Cricopharyngeal Spasm. It is like the valves that open the esophagus to allow food to go down, get stuck and don't open when we swallow. I am told it is caused by stress/anxiety and there really isn't much they can do. It usually resolves on its own............eventually (whatever THAT means).

    I am sorry you have been dealing with it for so long. I had many tests done back when I had it the first time, and I absolutely will not go through THAT again. After everything I have just been through, I don't need more uncomfortable tests telling me what I already know. There is nothing you can do to make it better faster.

    I have been looking for others that may also be experiencing this problem and have not found many. If you know of anyone, please let me know. Misery loves company.

    Hang in there..............

    ACDF 3 Level 5/28/2014
    PLIF L4/L5/S1 4/2013
  • I am about to go for a disc replacement surgery in 1 and a half week. i will let you know how that turned out. They are going in from the front of the neck as well.
  • I've had the same issue since my surgery on the 22nd. It's very disconcerting. I feel like I have a huge lump in my throat. I was told this could last for several months.
    4 level ACDF, C3-C7 with iliac bone crest graft with hardware on August 22nd.
  • I know that I am early in my recovery but I have that feeling all of the time. I really hope not to have this long term. I have a strong gag reflex also that doesn't help. Did anyone else have a sensitive gag reflex before surgery? Could that be part of the blame? I still have my aspen collar on and it seems more pronounced some days more than others. When I take the collar off, it feels stronger like I am being choked.
    Tracie C
  • Hi all -

    I am 5 months p/o and still have the same throat/swallowing issues you all have. I saw an ENT in Oct and had several of the swallowing studies done. Bottom line is the hardware is pressing against the esophagus reducing its size and thus prohibiting the swallowing of solid foods.

    I discussed the findings with my Neurosurgeon and he didn't know what to say other than he cannot take the hardware out so I need to do the best I can for now............What the what does that mean ???? Another benefit of the cervical fusion...

    Hang in there -


    ACDF 3 Level 5/28/2014
    PLIF L4/L5/S1 4/2013
  • Well, I hit my 2 year anniversary and my throat tightness is still a real problem for me. I spend many days trying to figure out what type of doctor could possibly help me with this. Went to an ENT and he didn't have a clue as to what was causing my problem. Had the barium swallow test which was negative. My neurosurgeon was willing to remove my plate, but did not feel it would do any good and could cause more problems. All surgeries come with risk. My MRIs show that I do have adequate space between the plate and esophagus so maybe it is the Cricopharyngeal Spasm that joanann mentioned above. Just wish something could be done to help.
    Connie C
  • 2+ months post op & still dealing w throat issues. Went from feeling like I had a tennis ball in my throat, to a golf ball, to a plate. Feels like plate weighs 50lbs and can't be upright more than two hours without experiencing pain. Surgeon thought it might be scar tissue & said inflammatory process takes at least 3 months. ENT wanted steroids and/or anti inflammatories but surgeon won't allow either due to bone graft. Hoping someone can tell me if they experienced this and if it got better. Surgeon said WAY too early to even discuss but worst case he'll remove plate a year from date of surgery. That's 9 months away. I find this completely debilitating & depressing. Would love to hear from others who have experienced it. Thanks.
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