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Anterior cervical corpectomy (C6&C7) and posterior cage implant

Bionic WomanBBionic Woman Posts: 9
edited 11/08/2014 - 8:05 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, I am new to this forum and I am expecting to have anterior cervical corpectomy (C6&C7). I have OPLL which is complicating the surgery quite a bit and once the corpectomy is completed, I will be flipped over to have a Posterior Cage Implant from C5 - T2.

My symptoms are there but I am used to the pain (through getting massages every 2 weeks and receiving chiropractic care). If I over use my arms (particularly with computer work), the pain/numbness goes all the way down to my finger tips. My job requires a lot of computer work and my goal with this surgery is to extend my working life as much as possible. I am hoping that my age this is a wise thing to do. I am 51. I am told I will eventually have to have the surgery, and I would suspect it would be easier for me to recover now than when I am older. Also, there are indications that the doctor will have to go back in and do additional work (above this area) but he does not believe that he should do the other work now.

My main concern is the recovery and recovery time period. Since I am fairly functional (amazingly with what is going on) does this mean that my recovery will likely be good (and hopefully quick)? I would like to have the surgery the week before Christmas so I can take advantage of the 2 week holiday at my place of work. I think the doctor now believes that I will need to be out at least 4 weeks. He is not wanting me to take long drives (as a passenger) for a while but I would like to travel 2 1/2 hours to see my family. I guess I do not understand what the difference in sitting in a recliner or being upright is compared to riding on a smooth interstate in a nice comfortable car seat (I have a Jetta that has comfortable seats). Any clues? Or suggestions about how my recovery might go? Would I be able to work from home if I remoted into my computer at work?



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/08/2014 - 8:09 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I can only give you my experience with this surgery. I wouldnt of been able to travel in a car within a week of my surgery. With the posterior approach it really angers the muscles. The hardest part for me was getting up, Matter of fact I would yell out a warrior cry every time I would get up from a laying down position. Take my advice if you are offered a hospital bed for recovery at home take your Dr up on the offer. I have had 8 spine surgeries and by far this was the hardest recovery. I did return to work after 4 weeks but was not ready . I had no choice no FMLA time left. It is a much longer and harder recovery. If your Dr told you no long car rides there is a reason for it. Every bump you hit will affect the neck. On a good note the posterior surgery finally fixed my neck after 5 failures.
    Good luck
  • I appreciate the responses. jlrfrye - have you ever had a surgery where they have gone in at the front and then turned you over and gone in at the back of your neck during the same surgery?
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    edited 11/12/2014 - 10:17 PM
    My neck did not fuse correctly so he went in thru the front and broke out all the old fusions, removed the plate that was pressing on my esophagus, replaced that plate then flipped me over and repaired everything from the posterior.. When I woke up from that surgery the Dr's exact words were ( he sat by my bed until I woke up) that he had to beat the sh#t out of me to get it done. I woke up with 2 black eyes and a black nose, I tease him all the time and asked him if he dropped me on the floor when they flipped me over. My hospital stay was 3 days, he wanted me to stay a few more days but i begged to go home. He told me if I could walk around the hospital he would release me. I got up about every hour and took a walk around the hospital floor. It was a rough surgery for me but I think breaking all the old fusions out played a big part in that. That being said you will read all kinds of horror stories about the posterior surgery, it was not as bad as i was led to believe it was. The biggest concern about posterior surgery is swelling,I was warned that if I swelled too much that i might require a vent to breath for me until the swelling went down. but that being said i had alot more going on with them having to break out c3 thru c6 if i remember correct. i have has so many surgeries on my neck i forget which disc they worked on.lol. The hardest part of this surgery is getting up from a lying down position and i think everyone who had this surgery will agree.Make sure you have good pillows to prop you up while sleeping and getting up will not be as bad. I wont like i wasnt kidding when i said i would yell a warrior cry everytime I got up from a lying down position, I tried sleeping in a recliner but just couldnt sleep so I gave up and went to my bed. I did get a prescription for a hospital bed after a few days which helped immensely. Walk as much as your Dr allows, it does help the muscles in the neck. Take the muscle relaxers as prescribed,dont wait until you are in pain, It will take longer to get the pain under control. Keep us posted on how you are doing and good luck
  • My mom had very similar surgeries about a month ago. She had the corpectomy and anterior fusion from C4-C7. The next day she had the posterior laminectomy surgery on the same area. She handled the Anterior surgery a lot better than I handled my acdf of only C5/C6 pain wise. She did great. The posterior surgery was a bit harder on her. As her daughter, it was frightening because an unexpected complication came up for her during the first surgery. Not common and very much a personal thing, not something you should worry about. Now a month later, she is doing very well. SHe is on muscle relaxer and gabapentin but no narcotic pain killers. She is barely taking Tylenol some days. She was very healthy before the surgery which made a huge difference in her recovery. SHe is 60 yrs old with the health of a 35-40 yr old. Maybe better. It all depends on how long your issues have been going on as well individual health and circumstances. From what I have read, the posterior is harder to recover from because of the muscles being disturbed.
    I hope things go well for you.
    Tracie C
  • It has almost been 2 weeks since my surgery and I thought I would update. My procedures were:

    Cervical six (C6) – seven (C7) Corpectomy with cervical five (C5) – thoracic one cage (T1) reconstruction and versa med plate stabilization 2 (titanian rods I believe) (C5) cervical five – thoracic two (T2) posterior cervical fusion with versa med stabilization.

    I stayed in ICU for three nights because the hospital was full and they couldn't get me to a floor until the fourth day. Getting adjusted to the reduction in pain medicine - Percocet. 7.5 - 325M tab every six hours was one of my biggest challenges so far. My arms are waking up but I feel some odd tingling with my left arm and numbness with my left thigh. I seem to have all the feeling in my side but also feel pain at times in my right upper forearm. For a while I could not really feel anything on parts of the left side of my back but starting to have that area wake up as well. Does anything sound strange thus far?

    I totally understand Susan's comments about yelling like a warrior when she would get up. I experienced the same thing.

    My doctor said that everything went very well. The person monitoring the spinal chord and nervous system found no problems. The doctor also pulled the intubation out before he flipped me over and then put it back in. My voice was fairly strong when I woke up, and he was amazed at how well it sounded. I had very little time with pain in my throat as well. My only complaint is not understanding the anesthesia part of this. I was concerned about taking Versed because of past problems with amnesia that lasted over 48 hours. I consented to Versed because the surgery would be 8 hours long and because I knew I would be in recovery for a while but I really wished I understood this more. I don't suppose one can have a pre-appointed with an Anesthesiologist?

    Also, I feel a little heaviness in my back but that may be the back wound. Any thoughts about how things sound?

    Thanks all!
  • I can't comment on a lot (I had a corpectomy on the 8th, but nothing posterior), but wow...you are a bionic woman! Sounds like you're doing amazing for what you went through!

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • Bionic WomanBBionic Woman Posts: 9
    edited 12/27/2014 - 2:17 PM
    I forgot to say that my OPLL was the reason that we went the corpectomy route and that the ligament was stuck hard onto the vertebrae body and was removed together.

    Also one night around Christmas when I the dosage on my pain medicine was being adjusted, I had two or three occurrences of night tremors before going to sleep. This has not occurred again so I think it may have been related to the medicine being adjusted.
  • Hi,

    I've have had a surgery very much like yours. I wasn't allowed in a car unless I was traveling to my doctors appointment. After my surgery it didn't take much activity to exhaust me. Every bump in the road and any sudden stops could jerk your neck and or muscles causing pain. A traffic accident could undo your surgery. This is what my doctor said. I was in my neck brace a full 3 months. My anxiety was to high to travel.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I'm recovering well but with my posterior back procedure, my back feels very heavy. Has anyone experienced this and what causes it.

    Also, I have a regular collar; however, a high school friend is telling me to ask my doctor for a magnetic type collar. I feel funny asking the doctor because I figure if I needed that he would have told me to get one. Any thoughts?

  • That maybe a question for your doctor just to be safe. From my many surgeries in front and in back of my neck I had pain else where not in the neck region. I asked the doctor once if they dropped me on the floor. I was bruised everywhere too. It all passed and each week/month is a deeper level of healing. Just in case call his nurse and ask :)
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
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