I am new to this site. I had a 5 level ACDF with instrumentation in July, 2010 (following a 2 level ACDF done in 1996). I had the surgery done in Miami by one of the surgeons with The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. One of the best surgeons in the nation, and the doctor that my work comp neurosurgeon recommended. My first fusion (C5-6, C6-7) was a tremendous success for 5 years until my work as a special education teacher caused the 3 levels above the fusion to herniate. I was at a point where I could not turn my head to the right, or tip my head back without getting severe pain down my right arm, and severe vertigo and I would just fall to the ground. My only option at the time was the 5 level fusion, and I had a very successful surgery done on July 7, 2010. I went in for the surgery on a Wednesday morning, and was discharged from the hospital on Friday, with Miami-C collar in place and a bone growth stimulator. My major problem post surgery was dysphagia (I couldn't swallow - I needed extensive speech/swallowing therapy). I was in the collar for 9 weeks, with a completely successful fusion (cadaver bone graft, mixed with bone removed from my cervical facets). I did need several weeks of PT to regain mobility in my neck, and I was amazed that I could actually move my neck. No more pain down my right arm, no more pins and needles (but there was already nerve damage to my arm, so I did still have problems with hand/arm strength and fine motor issues with my right hand). My surgeon was very happy with my recovery and a very stable fusion. My neck will never be the same as it was before my original injury in 1994, I still cannot drive (still cannot turn my head quickly, even to check side view mirrors) and I am considered to be completely disabled, not able to work, still suffer from severe migraines and fibromyalgia, and still have difficulty swallowing (very scary)!!
Within 6 months of the surgery, I started to develop strange sores/bumps/pimples on my neck, near the scar line, and across my jawline. I have been to many dermatologists, rheumatologists, plastic surgeons, ENT, primary care doctor and the surgeon, and had allergy testing to see if I was allergic to the titanium plate or other trace metals used in the plate and screws. I have had countless biopsies and cultures, tried antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines, anti-virals, and many other topical treatments, but the sores continue. I need to keep them covered with bandages so I do not touch them. My surgeon said he could remove the titanium plate (which looks like a 5 level step ladder), but he is afraid that if he goes back into my neck, I might lose my ability to swallow, and I do not want to live the rest of my life with a feeding tube.
Has anyone else experienced skin sores following surgery? I recently heard something about a certain type of material used in the "bone plugs" that has caused problems following fusion surgery.
At this point, I am basically home bound. I do suffer from chronic pain due to my initial injury (and the failure to properly diagnose the 2 level herniated discs, a rotator cuff tear and carpal tunnel).
I am hoping that through this forum, I might be able to get some answers. My doctors do not know why I have the sores, and do not know what to do to treat them. I do believe that they are related to my ACDF.