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My father--having C5/C6 removed, spacer inserted...what is typical recovery-wise

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ay yi yi. My father--who has a War and Peace-sized medical file--is having urgent surgery on C5/C6 to remove the damaged disc kinking his spinal cord. He already has partial paralysis of both hands and has been warned if they don't act soon, Dad may not ever recover function in them...and worse, the problem will progress until he is paralyzed from the neck down.

Dad has a host of other complicating medical problems, including a heart condition, extremely low blood pressure, and most notably fairly advanced Parkinson's. But the choices are--surgery, or paralysis.

The neurosurgeon will be inserting a spacer between the discs and the area will eventually fuse (Dad is already fused from L5/S1 all the way through at least T3/T4--long story). I'm just concerned about how invasive a spacer is, and I'm wondering what kind of recovery is *typical* at least, in y'all's experience. My Dad is atypical, of course.

Is his procedure what you guys call an ALIF? They will be entering through the front. I'm not up on my terms.

Has anyone had this done on C5/C6 or nearby vertebral discs? What was your outcome?


  • First nice to hear from you again.
    Second not on these circumstances hun.
    Tell Dad so sorry he has to go through this again.

    Now what do you mean by spacer??? A bone graft??? Mabye I am just not up on terms right now as I am recovering also.

    Its not a ALIF it would be a ACDF.

    Those are the disk space I had done with my surgery. I was in the hospital 36 hrs. Due to his medical history I would ask the dr this. As it may be different then your typical patient.

    But before I continue anymore "spacer" thingy????

    So glad your writing for your dad!!
  • I may be assuming things, but my sister (who went to the neurosurgeon appt. with my folks) said they are removing the disc, inserting a spacer, and the area will eventually fuse on its own.

    I'm assuming the "spacer" is the thingy my neuro showed me--a sort of plexiglass-looking deviced with a spring coil that would have been screwed into the vertebrae to hold it in place. Like an artificial disc, but I was told it was decidedly not that.

    What does ACDF stand for? Anterior cervical *something* fusion?
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  • Hey there~
    Sorry to hear your dad is having so many problems with this! I am 4 wks post-op. I had ACDF- Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion C4 C5 C6 C7. My Dr used synthetic disc and a titanium plate with 6 screws to fuse together. I was in the hospital over night, in a cervical collar for 2 weeks, i did intense physical therapy for 3 weeks and i will be returning to work this week. I slept in a recliner for the first 2 weeks I was home. It was just more comfortable. It was easier to drink with a straw, and I still have issues with swallowing, but I'm 90% pain free. So if I'm like this forever; I'm happy!
    Good luck & God Bless You
  • Tried to get some clarification tonight, but as has been their M.O., the folks aren't answering any of their phones. Augh.

    Doubletrouble, thanks for your input. Goodness, you've had quite the journey too! Good for you that you're 90% pain free. Believe me, I understand being HAPPY with being in pain. These pains I have now are like a warm fuzzy blanket compared to the hell I was in before. So glad your recovery is going well!

    The swallowing thing is a concern for me as Dad already has trouble swallowing due to the Parkinson's, but I figure his doctor will have that in mind and help him out.

    My sister said she was pretty sure the spacer was made of donated bone, and preformed or somesuch. No titanium rods or plates--no hardware, really, just donated bone. Sound familiar, anyone?

    BTW, my social work background (my degree is a BSW--got that before I went in to education) is coming through. When we're in the hospital, I'm going to ask for the staff social worker. I was a discharge screener as part of my internship, and a situation like my parents' is one that screams WE NEED HELP. Mom won't ask for it, but I will--I want info on a HHN. Maybe the staff social worker will do better than my sister and I at convincing Mom she can't keep doing *every*thing.
  • I am so happy you can be such a help to your dad. I had the same surgery, but with metal plates and screws. The recovery is not easy and given your dad's medical situation, you are so right to speak up for him. He is lucky to have you. keep in touch. Donna
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  • I know that this is an old thread, but I just found out today that I need this surgery myself. Could someone please post how they are doing after this? How long is the recovery? Does it really cut the nightmarish pain?

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I have to close it.


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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