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need a little advice on cervical fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm hoping someone can help clear up some questions for me. I need to have cerival fusion done, but I've gone to 2 different doctors and got 2 totally different stories. One was a neurosurgeon who operates with an orthopedic doctor, he uses either cadaver bones or metal of some type, he claims that I will have to wear the collar for 6 weeks and won't be able to drive for 6 weeks either. Then I went to an Orthopedic doctor who I think operates on his own but is supposed to be one of the best in MD, anyway, he says he uses bones out of your hip and then you only have to wear the collar for 2 weeks and drive in 2 weeks. These stories seem totally inconsistent to me. Any incite on either procedure is a plus!

Also, how bad is the pain and how long does it usually last? I'm not in a lot of pain now, I have more of a popping issue and they say my spinal cord is being damaged every time I move. So my point is, I'm not doing this to eleviate pain, so I definitely don't want to add something else to my list. Maybe I already have pain and just don't notice it so much because of other issues, but honestly my lower back is what kills me every day! I was in a car accident in 2005 and this will be my 11th surgery. I just had both sides done for thoracic outlet syndrome, so I'm wondering what I'm in for this time! With all of the surgeries I've had, I've never worried like I am this time, I think a lot of it is due to the inconsistencies in treatment. At least they both agreed I needed the surgery and that I really shouldn't wait, but how do you know if you are making the right choice?


  • wow 11 surgeries, u should get a medal. i assume u had a mri and ct test, what do they show? my ns only used metal hardware on me and i guess things could of been done many different ways regarding the chosen surgeons preferrences with previous cases that are similar. have any of these docs been used by you before? what levels are going to be done? i think most would agree to have the surgery done before cord damage becomes the issue. i wish u luck and will pray for u.
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  • Hi I am very new to this forum but from what I read every doctor is differentt. Some don't even let you wear a collar at all it seems like it depends on what the doctor wants. I am having my surgery in January and am supposed to wear a collar for 2 weeks. If you read some of the posts you will see what I am talking about so I guess its just a difference in what the Doctor prefers.
  • I had C5-6 fused in 2007 with cadaver bone and titanium plate and screws. I hurt really bad only for a few days. By end of first week was riding in car. At a month I went back to work driving 8 hrs a day. I never wore a collar at all. I'm sure it depends on how much has to be fused, front or back incision site, etc. I have heard a lot of people say that taking the bone from the hip made that site (the hip) hurt far worse longer than the neck surgery. Good luck with whatever you choose. You don't want to permanently damage your spine. Be careful until surgery.
  • I have had MRIs, CAT scans, and x-rays done, my issue is at levels 5 & 6. Like I said, the films were pretty obvious, I could even see the issue without them pointing it out. My understanding (which obviously isn't very good) is that there is nothing left between the vertebraes, there is a bone spur there also, and the area where the spinal cord goes up the spine is severely crooked and being crushed by the bone spur. I found this site, quite by accident last night, when I was trying to research the doctors I went to. I have never been to any of them in the past, nor do I know anyone who has used them. I got a little worried last night when I saw something someone had written about being in severe pain 3 weeks after the surgery. Like I said, I really don't have a lot of pain in my upper back or neck. My neck gets stiff and tired a lot, I can't rest my phone on my shoulder like I used to, and it nags me a little bit, but honestly my real pain is in my lower back. They say I have bulging discs in the lower back but that it isn't nearly as severe as the neck issue, that we can just treat it with pain pills and muscle relaxants. What scares me is that I will have this surgery and then have pain and I'm not talking about pain from the recovery, I expect that, I'm worried about pain that will never go away.
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  • Changes,

    Some things differ by surgeon but the basic operation being discussed should be about the same. By this I mean that they should both be suggesting most likely a two level surgery with fusion. Some doctors use collars, some don't, the time of use differs etc. On the subject of the material used for fusion again there are differences depending on the surgeon. What you want should also be taken into account as well as some general health issues. Personally I would not allow a bone graft to be taken from my hip. My reason is because a) I am not young, b) I have a lot of arthritus and some is already in my hip c) I did not want another surgical site .....Let me insert my disclaimer here....I am not in the medical field and the opinions I express here are just that my opinions...

    Anyway some doctors like to use your own bone because supposedly it fuses faster then other choices. Things that effect fusion are things like the number of levels being done, if you smoke, if you are diabetic, etc. In my case I had 3 levels fused but the doctor did not as mentioned use my own bone but used cadaver bone instead. I use bone growth stimulator 4 hours a day to improve fusion rate.

    Anyway, lots of luck to you,
  • One thing that really confused me is that the last doctor I went to who would use my bone said I didn't have to quit smoking at all. Personally, I think when a doctor is told that you have cut back from 1 1/2 packs a day to 5-6 cigarettes a day in preparation of surgery for better healing they shouldn't discourage you from doing so. I am using this as my incentive to quit, and regardless of what I'm told I'm not going to let it discourage me!!

    I just can't seem to find a doctor who can be consistent with me from the beginning of my visit until I leave. For example, the neurosurgeon on my first visit, scared me to death and told me that if I moved the wrong way or got hit in the rear in a car, I would be paralyzed from the neck down, only to go back to schedule the surgery and was told that it was no hurry. In response, I decided I wanted to have a second opinion. The second doctor told me the way he would do the surgery and said that I would be in a collar and couldn't drive for 2 weeks. He seemed confident and had good credentials. The problem came up when I was in someone else's office to schedule the surgery and the last thing she said to me was that she hoped I realized that I would be in a collar for 6 weeks and couldn't drive for 6 weeks either. What is it 2 or 6 weeks? I really don't care one way or the other, but I feel like no one can give me a consistent answer to save my life. This may seem stupid, but how can you feel confidence in someone who is going to be cutting on you, if you can't even get the same story out of them in a one hour period of time? I questioned them but no one can give me a straight answer. I'm not usually this confused about surgeries. As I said earlier, this will be my 11th surgery since my accident in 2005 and I just had 2 major surgeries two week apart in September. I'm not the type to let things get me down, I usually just roll with the punches, but this time, I'm just not sure and that bothers me with something as serious as the neck. I would like to think that I will only have to have this done once!

    As far as using your own hip bone, he said he used this because it increases the success rate of the fusion and decreases risks of infection or rejection. I have heard some say that this procedure is very painful and that often the pain in the hip is worse that the neck pain. The issue of pain doesn't worry me so much, because it will get better. I would like to know success rates on each procedure and I haven't been able to find that!!
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