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Will the levels next to the fusion need to be done eventually?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am just full of questions!! From what I've been reading, it seems those who have an ACDF will eventually need to have the levels adjacent to the original fusion done. Does this happen to everyone? Is there a time frame involved?

This is the scary question.....what happens when C3,4 is done and then 2,3 needs to be done. Isn't that the one that is hard to get to?

I've noticed that lots of people here have had numerous surgeries. Once you start---is this a way of life from now on? I don't mean to be morbid, but I am curious about the future.

Linda MI


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,878
    Hi Linda, perfect questions. I can speak only from my own personal experiences.
    I started with a lumbar surgery in 1978 (L4/L5) and then proceeded to have another lumbar surgery every 4 years to be exact until I had 4 lumbar surgeries.
    When I was finished ( I thought) with the lumbar area, I moved up to the cervical area. I have had 3 ACDF surgeies
    (C5/C6 and C6/C7 II) And to top it off, I have 4 herniated Thoracic discs (which I am not planning surgery for),plus I am having additonal problems with L4/L5.
    My first lumbar surgery was a result of foot ball injuries when I was in high school. The follow on surgeries was a combination of, me not always adhering to my restrictions and some genetic situations.
    Now that I have had all these surgeries, I always tell people that are going in for any spinal surgery, to make sure that they follow ALL the doctors order, ADHERE to all the restrictions, CONTINUE all the exercises they were told to do.
    I Believe IF I would have done that,I would not have had 7 spinal surgeries
    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
  • so I've started going to a physical therapist who specializes in necks. she is teaching me to stand up straight and do whatever I need to do to strengthen my neck and reduce the stress on my other disks. I think this will be a lifelong project, full of proper posture and careful ergonomics. And not always fun. But, I will do just about anything, no, anything, to avoid going through this surgery again.
  • Yea, I think once is enough for me too. :)

    My employer is all about ergonomics and making sure we are all fully aware of how we should be doing things at our desks.
  • I also asked my surgeon that question, he said no. However from all the people I know they all have had multiple surgeries. I had C5-7 fused with hardware and on film I look great, yet I deal with pain everyday.
    There are many who have had successful surgery. I too hope to never have to have surgery again, but i do think once you touch you make others more vulnerable. Just my thoughts,
    In the mean time I agree with Ron, do everything you can, follow doctors orders, and put yourself in the best situation to not have to go down that road again.
    Good luck. Regardless you know where to find support.
  • I am seeing the surgeon for the first time this coming Monday. My DO said I have major surgery coming up with hardware being put in and fusion. My problems are c3 thru c7 with c5 to 7 being the main problems evidently.

    I just wonder how long I'll be out on disability. I know its an individual thing so hard to tell. I work in an office in a call center setting. I was told posture and genetics had a lot to do with this happening.

    Ken GreyEagle
  • refresh us. What has he been diagnosed with? I remember that you had to cancel a vacation or something, right? I can't remember much of your details.--Thanks---Mazy
    p.s. You are taking very good care of your hubby!
  • I HAVE to take good care of him---he's all I've got. We never had kids. Besides, he isn't the type to take care of himself. He would have had surgery with the first guy he went to, who would have done a laminectomy instead of an ADCF.

    This is what Dave has....severe cervical spinal stenosis, expecially at C6, 7, but also at C5,6, and a lesser extent at C4,5. On his mri, you can see a white line where the severe compression is. He could be paralyzed if he were in a bad accident.

    On the mri report they also mention 3,4--moderate broad based herniated disc. He didn't want to fuse that one---was concerned about a 4 level fusion.

    Linda MI
  • Thanks for the refresher Linda! I have a lot in common with Dave. I have moderate stenosis, anterolistheisis, DDD, etc. etc. etc. All cervical. I am lucky because my severe pain (arm, shoulder, neck) has subsided, and I just have some mild pain/tingling that comes and goes. I may need ACDF eventually, but I'm not having surgery right now. Keep us posted on his surgery and progress. I've learned a lot from other people's experiences on this site. God bless ya!--Mazy p.s. I never had any kids either. I'm now 54, and I don't regret it!
  • Hi Dave,
    I recently had surgery on levels C3-4, 4-5, 5-6 however I refused to do fusion and I was approved for ADR. Is there a reason why you are having a fusion vs. ADR?
    Having a fusion increases the chances of the other discs bulging and it also minimizies range of motion.
    I am well aware of the difference between fusions and ADR's if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. I will be more than happy to help you with this.
  • I'm not sure of what that is. I thought that was approved for only one disc at a time. Dave needs several and has serious compression at one level.
  • It really varies - my NS said between 12-20 weeks (I had c5-7 fused), I was out for 18, was on the fence about taking a few more. Three weeks into working, mostly from home, I find that sitting at a desk all day can really wear me out. I may not find it that day, but the next morning I am wiped. But there are definitely people here who've had a quicker recovery. Good luck!
  • Thanks much for your comments, chicagogal! Monday I finally see my NS. At least then he can go over my MRI's with me. I imagine he'll probably come to the same conclusion my DO did. She is very thorough and an excellent doctor. Everyone I have spoken with says the NS I am seeing is tops.

    I talked to my supervisor on the phone yesterday. She said you are seeing Dr. ""? Oh! He is he same surgon who did my husband 20 some years ago! He is he best!" Encouraging to say the least.

    I'll let everyone here know how it goes.

    I live in NW Washington State in the Cascade Foothills about an hour NE of Seattle. Beautiful Country! I have for years wanted to visit the University of Chicago Bookstore and the used bookstores that I've heard are nearby. My best friend went to medical school there years ago.

    Ken GreyEagle
    Western Band Cherokee
  • and glad you have some good support on the surgery front. U of C and Hyde Park are lovely, I was just thinking I hope to be able to bike down there this fall - it's about 12 miles down the lakefront from me.

    Good luck on Monday!
  • kboyadzh,

    What Insurance co approved amulti level ADR? Did you have to go through an appeal?
  • is it true fusion messes up the surrounding disks? oh man. my doc wants to do ACD, bone bank and titanuim. is that fusion?

    i have myleopthy, myeomelasia. isn't that dangeous? one doc wants to wait, the other wants to do surgery. says i could get paralyzed.
  • Yes, ACDF is Anterior Cervical Disectomy with Fusion.
    Greg.. ACDF 5-6 several years ago
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,382
    Your own living bone from the crest of your iliac (Pelvic Girdle)(Beltline) will ALWAYS fuse better than bone from a dead person .... irradiated for "Safety".

    YUK! I'm glad they removed my cadaver implants when they redid my ACDF!!

    Carry on with faith !!

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!  (Click on Welcome to Spine-Health)

  • I agree with metalneck. I had cadaver bone the first time around. didn't fuse. No one really knows why, but research has shown that multi-level fusions have a higher risk of having a non-union than single, so you may want to check into using your own bone. 2nd time around I had enough bone harvested from my vertebrectomies that they didn't have to take it from my hip, but I would have gladly gone through the hip pain if it increases the chance of a positive fusion.

    Do you feel overloaded with questions for your doctor yet? Too many things to be aware of!

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,382
    My hip bones connected to my .. neck bone...

    Sing along with me!


    "Chicks dig scars" (A line from the movie The Replacements) I can relate ... I have a bunch.(Scars and Replacements)... but where are those chicks??

    I follow you now Neck of Steel! He He He to Thee!!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!  (Click on Welcome to Spine-Health)

  • I've had it both ways too...cadaver bone and my own. I had cadaver the first time around, which fused nicely and very quickly. The problem was that the surgery failed to address my problems (spinal cord and nerve root and kyphosis). This surgery I had the grafting done from the partial corpectomies and, again, they are fusing quite nicely. What can I say? I can grow bone! My cervical spine is a mess but I can grow bone.

    When I had my 5 week check up we could very clearly see that the T2-T3 levels are a mess. The surgeon told me that he look at them carefully, checking for compression or herniations. So far it looks okay. I think a lot of my pain comes from these levels though and think that I may have to address them in the future. It's depressing to look at films 5 weeks out and even think about another surgery when I've had 2 already this year!

    I think that the severe kyphosis put a huge strain on the lower levels, causing them to take a punishment for the 6-11 months that my spine was in that position. From the looks of a lot of ACDF films there is a loss of natural lordosis when the procedure is done or from the accident or condition that caused the need for surgery. My theory (and it's uneducated and worthless, let me tell ya) is that this may be a reason that the levels are so strained after an ACDF.

    Any thoughts on this?

  • D, not anymore. I just passed you up!

    The hip bone connected to the...neck bone
    the neck bone connected to the...crazy bone

    Must be true because all my nerves have gone "crazy".
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
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