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Ramifications of Failed Fusion



  • I am a little over 3 months after ACDF levels 5/6 6/7 fusion using cages filled with bone harvested from my own osteophytes, with plates and screws. I was doing pretty good up until a couple weeks ago until I started experiencing severe headaches, facial numbness, along with all the old symptoms returning like the burning between my shoulder blades, pain and numbness radiating down my left arm into my hand and fingers and now starting into the right side. My neurosurgeon ordered a myleogram, CT scan, and another nerve induction. Saw my neurologist for another issue this past Wed. and he said he was seeing more herniated discs at levels 3/4 4/5 on an MRI he had ordered back in Aug.. Man I was floored. Since he's not treating me for the neck issue he said to wait and see what the other tests say when I see my neurosurgeon in Nov. Don't think I can handle more surgery.

    The waiting I think is the worst.
  • Feb of 2008 is when they found my congenital anomally. I had a fusion at the c1-c2 level that was unsuccesful. My surgoen wanted to use the "harms" method, but when he cut my neck open, the muscles and veins were " unlike that of anyone else he has seen" ( Massive) So instead of the "harms" way he had to use wire and graft fixation. That did not work. The new surgeon i am seeing wants to use the "magrel" method or go through my throat. Has anyone ever tried those methods and if so did they work?
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  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,778
    fusion was declared a "failure" minimal fusion - Non-union -Pseudo arthrosis ... are some of the fancy terms for just plain messed up! It took me 3 doctors and multiple cats, mri's and EMG's (almost 1.5 years after the 1st) before I finally found an orthopedic surgeon who put my MRI on the view box and said "We have to redo the whole shabang" I was in sooo much pain and despare. Those words were some of the best things I has ever heard in my life .... finally another chance! It is hard to get one (or almost never the same) doc to admit that things are or have gone very wrong. When the pain becomes (or already is) bad enough and another surgery is the only option .... you will want to have revisions done ASAP.

    My status is better than before the first, and better than before the second. I and happy for progress and don't demand or expect perfection.
    Yes I am a chronic pain patient now, but I can still walk and control my bodily functions - My pain is not completely out of control like after the first surgery.

    I believe that a failed fusion is one of the worst kinds of hell we can go through, but we can get through it. We are here to offer advice (non-medical), support, and whatever else we can.

    Good luck and good surgery outcomes,


  • I had ACDF surgery January of 2014. After returing to April 2015, I sought the help of a chiropractor, because after returning to work I started experiencing the same symptoms prior to surgery. Yesterday I experienced some numbing and tingling in my left shoulder. By the time I made it to the doctor( chiropractor) my whole left side was drooping my hand turn blue and I am not quite sure or understanding what is happening? I feel better this morning, and my hand returned to normal color. What has been anyone else experience after ACDF surgery?
    Sending gentle hugs....Felicia
  • KristyBDAKKristyBDA Posts: 1
    edited 11/18/2015 - 4:56 AM
    Hi! I had two level c5/6 ACDF about 7 weeks ago. Long time history of scapula pain, numbness in tingling along right arm/ fingers. My GP told me to switch pillows and lose weight .. The surgeon said I had spinal cord compression and two herniated discs and obvious pinched nerves and that he was worried it had been misdiagnosed for so long. Great surgery experience and now finding recovery extremely difficult. Autograft form hip (no major pain).
    About two weeks after Surgery I shopped, put away the groceries. I do laundry. I clean. I cook. I basically can't sit my [edit] still. I have this weird guilty feeling if I can't continue my regular activities, and know full well the standards I set myself are high. So own worst enemy and I have a hard time putting myself first. Off the pain meds since week 4.
    extensive soft tissue swelling in neck area visible on X-ray and about to begin some physio next week.
    I've been reading and using these forums as comfort and have to say thanks as they help me feel not so 'insane' during the ups and downs...(and boy have I had some downs, depression is an understatement).

    I attempted going back to a very busy office job on Monday and found myself unable to function. To me this is unacceptable. Anyone else having a hard time getting back into the swing of things? Should I be this darn tired/ achy?
    Guess I just want some shared experience here.
    Love and light,
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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