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Hi all, considering ACDF, some questions

Met with neurosurgeon yesterday. I have 3 herniated discs, C4/5, 5/6, 6/7. Going from memory from conversation combined with what I already know.
I've had stenosis for a while.
He said opening less that .8 now (?)
Bone spurs
spondylotic myelopathy.
A little history. I broke my nose in HS, not the normal sideways break, but rather I was looking up and something fell from directly (a sports injury actually) above and pushed my head directly down on my spine, like opening a garlic press or something. They fixed my nose, which required 2 surgeries and no one ever addressed my neck. I think because I was young and elastic it didn't show itself.
Fast forward 15 years, I was showing my kids how to do a somersault (I had ALWAYS been athletic and fit and healthy) and in doing so hyper extended the ligaments in my neck causing my head to shift very much forward. I ended up in ICU for a couple days, physical therapy. At first in the ER the images looked like a fracture, later MRI's showed the arthritis that was most likely from the earlier sports injury. Treatment was NSAIDS and physical therapy, which I did.
About a year after this the fibromyalgia monster that has followed me since reared it's head. It started first with severe GI disturbances, went to all sorts of sensory disturbances and strange migrating pains and a roller coaster of pain and suffering that many people here are all too familiar with. So sorry to all of you.
Along the way I found some things that helped somewhat, controlled what I could, accepted what I couldn't and made the best of it when I could. Raised 2 great kids in the process so I'm grateful for that. Back the the issue.
9 years ago my neck had some "flares" with no triggering events. Ended up in ER., went on to surgery consult. Saw some bulging and stenosis, nothing severe at that time. Surgeon was ready to go. Wanted to fuse then and there. Got opinions on other options and tried epidurals. Had 2. The first one was a MIRACLE. At the two week point symptoms began to diminish significantly. It worked for years. 3 years ago some pain started again. Had another, no help at all. Just dealt with it.
This year. This year has been the WORST. This year has been the WORST year of my life. With that being said I recognize that I am still fortunate and it could always be worse, but my pain, suffering, fatigue, endurance, ability to cope, concentration, lightening zaps, and absolutely RIDICULOUS incessant unrelenting er quality MIGRAINES, have been off the charts. Then 3 month ago I couldn't do my hair. As silly as that sounds what I mean is overnight I lost motor function in my arm. What I hadn't paid attention to is that I had been already losing motor function in my leg, attributing it to fibromyalgia fatigue when I dragged it when walking our dog. This signaled that it was not fibromyalgia and I was not about to have a doctor tell me that it was. Saw GP. New MRI. Saw neuro put in referral for neurosurgeon, drugs for migraines, saw awesome ortho that really listens, he said this is different myelopathy is present, time for surgery and here we are.
Surgeon wants to do a ACDF. He will use cadaver bone and titanium. Is that the very very best? I've had enough CT scans for 3 people and after this will never be able to have MRI right? Is there any instrumentation that is newer, stronger, better, safer that does not subject someone to CT from here on out (for all my other issues) ?
THANK you all for the WEALTH of information here! I've been reading and reading and reading and send you prayers and support and gratitude for your information and will share my experience as well.
All the best and peace.


  • SukhreSSukhre San Diego, CAPosts: 181
    It looks like the three choices for bone are
    1) cadavar 2) own bone from hip 3) own bone from/nr the neck.

    I have seen Surgeons commenting how some surgeons using cadavar are getting close to 100% fusion, when I asked the surgeons they gave me a number between 85%(own bone from hip) to 90% (cadavar with another surgeon). Another one said even if fusion does not happen it does not matter as long as you do not have symptoms.

    I want to hear patients feedback.

    Another two things I have heard is PEEK cage or spacer and titanium plate. Are the cage and spacers same thing? is titanium plate with screws pretty much the standard these days (even with patient's own bone)? Is there a difference between plate or rod?

    One of the complexities is the instrument (plates/rods) causing issues in swallowing and screws not put into the right place. I wish these was a way to find out. Most surgeons have a preferred solution. I do not seem to find long term statistics of reoperation (for problem on the same site or adjacent site) or complications for any of those choices.
    MRI shows C4-C7 severe steonosis. Pain in hand.
  • ceeccee Posts: 22
    edited 09/03/2015 - 3:58 PM
    Just read titanium and MRIs are compatible so that's ok.
    Thanks all.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    edited 09/04/2015 - 2:13 AM
    I had ACDF on c4/5 using cadaver bone & screws. I am able to have mri's. This surgery didn't fuse, so I ended up having a posterior fusion surgery to put more screws in.
    My first surgeon only took X-rays at my 2 week check up, then he never saw me again. He wouldn't refill any pain meds. Told me I shouldn't be in pain? Then he advised me to take ibuprofen. So, for 8 months I was eating ibuprofen like candy.
    I finally went to a new doctor for a second opinion & he took X-rays & determined my neck didn't fuse. I told him about how much pain I was in & I was taking a lot of ibuprofen. He told me to stop taking them because they slow down the fusing process.
    The posterior surgery was much harder to recover from.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    to using Autografts (your own bone graft) versus Allografts (a cadaver implant). Spine-Health has some excellent articles on this subject. To start reading,
    look at the following:

    Artificial disc - cervical replacement

    Controversies about spinal fusion - Autografts vs Allographs
    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
  • brokenlumbarbbrokenlumbar Posts: 34
    edited 09/04/2015 - 12:31 PM
    My wife had this surgery done (but only 2 level). My advice is make sure you get multiple opinions and try to find the very best surgeon you can find. Even if that means going out of state. This is a very major surgery doing 3 levels and will forever change your mechanics. You will loose motion in your neck. Also, look into the possibility of having artificial disc as well as Microdiscectomy. These will help retain the motion in your neck.

    Take care and do your homework!
  • SukhreSSukhre San Diego, CAPosts: 181
    edited 09/04/2015 - 2:49 PM
    How is your wife doing after the surgery?
    MRI shows C4-C7 severe steonosis. Pain in hand.
  • brokenlumbarbbrokenlumbar Posts: 34
    edited 09/04/2015 - 3:03 PM
    She is about 6 years post op and sometimes she forgets it ever happened. So, she is doing very well.

    Over the years she has had a couple neck lock-ups that resulted in me calling 911. We are still not sure what caused it, but most likely over did something. One of the lock-ups was caused by her reaching to high for something. So that said after these surgeries you need to really take it easy and not overdo anything. Those lock-ups I wish upon noone. Probably the scariest thing I've ever had to witness.
  • Well this is long overdue but I wanted to get back and thank you all for your thoughtful, helpful information. I was in bad shape, and pretty emotional and negative. Surgery had been scheduled longish out, which was also stressful, the pain was overwhelming as was the loss of function in my arm. Had a deteriorating situation arise, ended up in ER. That physician consulted with my amazing surgeon and I had surgery the following day. I all happened so fast. And it was a slightly different surgery than I was prepared for. I just wanted to return and thank you all.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    Thanks for the update.
    I hope you are recovering comfortably?
    What surgery did you end up having?
  • ceeccee Posts: 22
    edited 10/26/2015 - 6:59 PM
    I'm 3 weeks and 2 days into recovery and doing SO much better than before surgery, better than the past year before at least if not more. Thank you! I ended up having a 3 level fusion C4/5, C5/6, C6/7 and he removed the front of C5 and put a cage. I had bad spurs pushing into (well not actually penetrating) the cord. Had lost partial motor function in arm. My surgeon had reiterated that this was to prevent further damage and was not guaranteeing a return of function and I am so grateful to say that I have full function back, plus some other improvements to things I guess I hadn't even realized were deteriorating. And so far no migraine. I'm healing, like everyone with the after pain here and there, you know, but the outcome has been so positive I can take all that, not diminishing the impact of it, I'm just so grateful to have my arm back, and of course I'm still medicated as needed so please keep that in mind. I hope the pain is not permanent. Thank you so much for asking. Now I'm just trying to follow instructions. Cool thing, I got a 2 for 1 surgery, my neck is a little longer so I got a mini face lift and love it! Also, with all this sleep I've completely lost my taste for coffee, which was the only thing that got me through the past several years. How are you doing?
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    That sounds like a big surgery! It's great to hear that you are doing so well. And that you have full function back in your arm. I hope that you continue to heal & get stronger.
    I remember how tired I was after my surgeries.
    I'm doing ok. Im still in therapy 3x week for shoulder rehab after rotator cuff surgery. My neck seems to be slowing down the progress of my shoulder. I'm dealing with ulnar nerve compression now. I have an EMG scheduled for next week.
    Thank you for asking!
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