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Extending a posterior fusion of C3-7 to C3-T1

purpletrailppurpletrail Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2019 - 3:52 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical

I'm new here, [edit].  Quick history.  Hit by a car while biking many years ago.  Landed on hood of car on my neck.  Injury reversed the c curve in my neck.  Avoided surgery with PT, massage and exercise until 2003.  First surgery minimally invasive cord decompression.  Failed after one year.  Second surgery in 2005 - 2 level ACDF C5-7.  Failed after two years.  Third surgery Posterior fusion of C3-7 in 2008.

Now my old friends are back.  Pain and numbness in both arms,  neck feels like it's in a vice grip, pain radiating under my shoulder blades and best of all, the cervical headaches when I overdo it. Also a lot of strange numbness in my left calf, dizziness and other sensory issues.  MRI,CT and bone scan show significant spinal cord and nerve root compression at C7-T1.   

Options.  Retire on disability with a ton of medication and very little activity or have surgery to extend fusion.  I have elected to have another posterior fusion of C7-T1.  The neurosurgeon will try to decompress cord and nerves while attaching to the prior fusion.  If he isn't happy with that procedure, he will open up the prior fusion, remove the rods and replace with rods that extend from C3-T1.

So, has anyone out there had this type of revision?  I know everyone is different, but I would like to know what to expect.  The surgeon said that it wouldn't be nearly as bad as the prior surgery, which involved 4 or 5 lamenectomies.  I'm having a lot of anxiety about this one.  Thank you for your input!

Edited by Liz Veritas-Health Forum Moderator 



  • LizLiz Posts: 9,726


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • @purpletrail

       Hi there is a couple of members on here that have had more the 1 posterior..1 being joowee that just had a revision 4 weeks ago

      I too am going to have to have mine extended from a c4-7 to a c3-t1 as soon as I can get approval. 

      Hopefully joowee and others that have gone threw more then just 1 posterior will be along shortly 

      Good luck keep me posted as I'm right behind you.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,473


    I am so sorry you will have to go through this again. When you know your surgery date, please join us in Surgery Buddies. There you will meet other members waiting on surgery and/or going through recovery.

    Take care and keep us posted.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 947
    purpletrail - My story is a little different than an experience you are requesting.  I took whiplash in a vehicle without a headrest 41 years ago.  Twenty-two years ago, I started having chronic cervical pain.  Over the last 12 years, I've had three ACDFs, at C3/C4, C4/C5 and C6/C7.  Eighteen months ago, I was told by my old neurosurgeon before my third ACDF at C4/C5, my body had auto-fused C2/C3 and C5/C6. 
    After another neurosurgical review this spring, thinking that I might need a fusion at C7/T1, I was told that my body had auto-fused everything in my thoracic area from C7 to T10.  My latest neurosurgeon stated that the human body is known to sometimes auto-fuse levels of the spine when it detects instability. 
    My above experience is only that, not medical advice.
    It sounds from your imaging that you need surgery at C7/T1 to decompress the spine and nerve roots at that level, so it likely makes sense to fuse C7/T1 while the surgeon has the back of your neck open.  I had severe cord and nerve root compression at C3/C4 before the fusion at that level. 
    As an aside to my story, my latest neurosurgeon is sending me to a research/clinical rheumatologist for a second opinion if maybe my mass fusion in my thoracic region was triggered by some auto-immune syndrome.  He thinks my delayed mass thoracic fusion was a result of my whiplash trauma. 
    I will state that being fused from C2 to T10 results in a very stiff neck and upper/mid back.

  • Boo - thanks for the info on others with two posterior fusions.  I hope that you can get approval ASAP.  

    Sandra- I will join surgical buddies. Thanks for the recommendation. My surgery date is 7/11.  

    Nutcase (hate to call you that, since I'm sure you are not) - some of my complications are related to Rheumatoid arthritis.  I developed RA after a long standing Lyme infection.  My neurosurgeon said it most affects C1/C2 and C7/T1.  I do have slippage on the C7/T1 level (I think it's called retrolothesis).  I can't imagine having all of those levels autofused!  Backing the car out has to be an issue for you.  It's already a problem for me and I'm sure will be a lot worse after the next fusion. 

    I also have a bit of osteopenia from steriods, which is concerning.  I hope that it doesn't affect my  ability to fuse.  Thank you all for your input.  


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  • @purpletrail

      Has the doctor spoken to you about possibly using a bone stimulator since you have osteopenia? I used one for 6 months after my posterior..might be something to ask him about.

  • I will look into that.  I have a pre-surgery physical next week. 

  • Hope everything goes well for you  good luck  :)

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 947

    purpletrail - I took on the "Nutcase" alias after a spine doctor that couldn't diagnose my spine injury called me a nut case.  Many that know my actual name also call me a Nutcase.  Yes, I've learned to depend on mirrors when backing a vehicle.  My restriction of neck rotation is about 50 percent of normal.  About half of the human neck rotation occurs at the C1/C2 joint.  The fused thoracic joints are not as bad as one make think, at least for me.  I've gotten used to it and automatically rotate my body from my lumbar, hips and legs. 

    Okay, rheumatoid arthritis and osteopenia helps explain how you got to where you are.  Just curious, if you care to say, are you getting any treatment for osteopenia?  I know there are varying degrees of osteopenia.  I'm told that having treatment for osteopenia often helps improve ones chances for a successful fusion.  I could be wrong, but I'd think it would be worth asking your surgeon.

    I also wish you well in your pre-surgery prep, surgery and post-op recovery.  -Nutcase 
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 307

    I'm 5wks out from my second posterior so pm me if you need to ask any questions. The second has not been quite as bad as the first since it was not as much work done but you have to start all over dealing with all the muscle spasms and everything again and pt again. 

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