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Newbie here with multi level degenerative disease and disc bulges/herniations with either triple fus

ouchoouch Posts: 107
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello my friends: I have a bulge at C2, C3, severe herniation at C4-C5, C5 disc bulge, and C6-C7 bone spurs and disc herniation. Therefore, the name, OUCH. The 1st opinion (neurosurgeon) said he wants to go in anteriorly and just remove only the large herniated portion of the disc at C4-C5, nothing else. He said NO fusion is NOT recommended because all other levels will probably herniate with fusion. So he wants to just take out the part that is irritating my spinal cord and "let nature take over and heal it without fusion." The 2nd opinion orthopedist didn't know what in the world the neurosurgeon was talking about and that he totally disagreed about just leaving the disc to nature to heal itself (said it would be asking for more problems). The 2nd doc also said that the degeneration and bulging discs are so bad at multiple levels, that if I fuse only one level, I can be sure that the others are going to herniate and wear out rapidly causing more surgery later. So, he said if I am going to fuse, I need to do THREE fusions ... So, he recommended an artificial disc replacement (The new Medtronic Prestige Disc). It is approved by the FDA, but long term studies are not out..."in theory" it should help my symptoms: (Pain, right sided weakness, tingling down legs and in L arm, spasms, etc.) He wasn't promising the world, just possible decrease in symptoms plus protection of my spinal cord, which is compressed at C4-C5. I am so nervous...it seems the artificial disc is the way to go. Does anyone have opinions on artificial disc replacement (ADR)? Or, opinions on anything else? Thank you...So good to have friends out there.


  • Hi - I'm having a three-level fusion next month in my lumbar spine. With the many level problems you're having both docs are right and it's up to you to decide what to do. I was told that a three level fusion would put a lot of stress on the adjacent discs and cause me more trouble down the road. Yes - this is a possibility. I was told to let the vertebrae fuse on their own. Well, problem there is that each week I seem to have a new symptom -- something else gets squished, more nerves pinched, and I'm in agony. So, my second doc (actually my fourth) said that because of the severe degeneration of the discs and the arthritis I have, the bones would not fuse together well on their own and I needed to be stabilized. So, I'm going to go for it, realizing that I will have to do my exercises each and every day of my life and there can be no slacking off! Now, if my troubles were in my neck, would I have the same thing done? I really don't know. I wish you the very best. Perhaps you should get a third opinion and you will perhaps find someone who offers a middle road.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I also agree that I would get a third opinion in your case. Also, another question that I would ask is whether the ADR has been approved for three levels.
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  • Linda, please let me know how your surgery goes next month. Triple fusion...geeze. Well, if you are going to do something, do it big! I hope it goes well. Do you have lots of meals packed away? Lots of support for when you go home? I hope hope hope it helps you and that your pain takes a hike! Hang in there baby...
  • surgeon and get a third opinion.
    Oh welcome to the board by the way. :))(

    I dont know a lot about ADRs but I have read quite a bit here and it seem that it is still in the workings out phase. I really would suggest that you see a third surgeon and dont mention what you have already been told until you have a diagnosis from him.
    I know that disc bulges can repair themselves, they can and often do re-obsorb back to where they belong so that is probably what your N/S is talking about. I also know that a fusion would place more stress on the discs above and below which is probably why the N/S was only ging to do a discectomy.
    What made the O/S think you needed a fusion or a ADR i wonder. From what you have told us it doesn't sound severe enough to go that far. Is the reason the O/S suggested the ADR because you would be a test case or part of a study, as anjuan said I would want to make sure that ADRs had been done and approved for 3 levels as I dont recall hearing of anyone here that has had that.

    Just things to think about and what ever you choose all the best.
    Blessings Sara O:)

  • Ouch, welcome to SH. You have found a great site full of information and support. So is the OS recommending ADR at all 3 levels? Or perhaps part fusion, part ADR? Where are you? USA, UK, or? They have been doing ADR's much longer in the UK. In the USA some insurances still do not pay for a one level, much less three. I am with the others in thinking you should get a third opinion, being that the two you got are so far apart from each other. Good luck and let us know what you decide. >:D< Cali-Sue
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  • ouch- Only one level ADR is approved by FDA right now. Hopefully in the new future they will pass two.

    Like Sue said you can get multiple ADRs in Europe and Asia. I've priced around and in India for two ADRs it would cost around $15000 and that is with the weak dollar. In Geramny it would cost around $45000-$50000. Germany will only do up to three ADRs. I don't know about other countries but three ADRs are the most levels I have read of someone getting. Search the web under medical tourism and you'll find out more info.

    I've read great results on the Prestige disc for cervical area. ADRs have been done in Europe for almost 20 yrs. There are good and bad results.

    Do your research and find what will best suit your life and lifestyle. I hope you find some kind of relief.

  • Thank you all for your advice...good stuff! I have an 3rd opinion coming up on the 22nd in California. The 2nd doc wants to do only one level ADR. He says that "theoretically," since artificial discs allow more movement, I may only need one level done for the remainder of my life. There is the possibility of needing more surgery down the road, of course. But, both docs said that if I fuse, it is a PROBABILITY that I will be back for more fusions later on. You are right cla_gua, only one level ADR is allowed so far. Cali-sue my gosh you have been through so so much. I am so sorry. How are you now? I am in California, USA, as mentioned. Does the "Cali" mean California too? Angelback, as far as I know, the OS only wants to do the one ADR--no fusion unless I do three at once. He said he could do one fusion alone, but that it would be kinda useless due to my ddd and herniations up and down the cervical spine. You guys are great! Hang in there everyone.
  • Hi Ouch, yep I am in central CA, good ol Mo-town(Modesto). I am getting better now, it is all uphill from here(thinking positive)! Where are you? Take care, good luck on the decision. >:D< Sue
  • ouch- I've been thinking about your situation. I feel that if they can do one ADR to try and ease your situation without future pressure on your other disc that is a really good option. Your Dr. is almost hoping and giving you the chance of being in less pain and try and ease the DDD. He knows that with fusion that you are going to be in a worse situation. With an ADR your situation will improve a little. Let me know what you decide and your progress. I hope that you find some comfort soon.

  • Hi everyone: Thanks for all of your input. I went in for 3rd opinion, and OS said that my neck lacks the natural curvature necessary for an ADR. He is sure that a fusion will correct this problem. He feels most of my symptoms are from my C4/5 severe herniation (which is about 1/3 the size of my spinal cord). So, I will need a single, double, or triple fusion. Yuck! Now the question is, will it blow out the surrounding levels leading to more surgery? He says there is a 1 in 4 chance that I will need more surgery. Sounds better than I thought originally. What do you folks think?
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