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Home after 3-level ACDF surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:30 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

I had my 3 level ACDF Thursday morning at 9:00 with hardware. The procedure took 2 1/2 hours. Once I was in my room and the anethestic wore off the pain in my arm was gone! Wow!! I did not expect such a quick result. I was sitting in a chair by 4:00 the day of surgery. I have had tingling, numbness, and pain from my neck down my left arm for several years. In early March the weakness was quite noticeable.

I was mostly pain free the first night and only took a minimum of pain medications today (Saturday). I was discharged from the hospital with the Miami J Collar around noon. Yesterday I was walking around the hospital and taking multiple flights of stairs.

The only real pain is some residue tingling in my left arm and fingers. There is significant pain in my upper back, but the surgeon says that is likely a result of the J Collar.

Obviously I have a great surgeon!! Even his assistant said he did a "beautiful job" on my neck. He removed 3 disks, a lots of bone spurs, straightened the spine, added the plactic disks with stem cell bone material, and the metal plate across four disks to stabilize things.

I have had very little difficult talking, even within a few hours after surgery. Swollowing is somewhat painful which is to be expected.

My surgeon says I should eventually regain the strength in my left arm (8-9 months). He said nerves regenerate about 1 mm per day after surgery to remove compression.

All in all I cannot complaine a bit! I am glad I made the decision to have the surgery.

Thanks to all of you who sent your best wishes and posted your experiences. Knowing the facts takes much of the fear out of the decision.

I must say I have never seen so much equipment in a surgical suite. I did have two neural monitors.

I anyone would like a referral to my surgeon or the hospital please send a PM to me.

Best wishes,



  • Wow! It sounds like you did really well. Thanks for posting your experience--I learn a lot from what I read here on SH. Please continue to keep us posted and God Bless!--Mazy
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm so glad you are home and that everything is going well. You're very lucky to have a good surgeon. Keep us posted with your progress. Take care and take it easy.
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  • Congratulations on a successful surgery. I think I've already told you, but my arm issues were resolved immediately after surgery also. It's amazing, isn't it?

    I'm so glad you're home and on the road to recovery. Let us know how working goes on Monday. I expect that you'll be getting pretty tired after only a little time for a few weeks.

    Make sure you follow doc's orders and to take your meds on schedule to keep ahead of the pain.

    Welcome home!
  • Hi Cath,

    Thanks, and you are right about keeping ahead of the pain! I try to keep any medication to a minimum, so after taking one pain pill just before going to bed at midnight Saturday, I woke up at my normal time (6:00) and felt really good. So I worked in my home office answering email for about an hour, the decided I would read the Sunday papers, prepare my company financials for my CPA, get a haircut, pick up around the yard...yeah, right.

    While reading the last section of the Chicago Tribune I just turned into a Zombie! It was like I was asleep yet awake, or vice versa. I could not tell if I was awake or dreaming. Finally I got to the sofa and laid there in a half sitting - half laying down position. I could not open my eyes, breathing was difficult due to the swelling in my troat and the position. I thought I might be having a stroke! Finally I was able to move. I realized I had not eaten anything today, just coffee. A glass of orange juice and a yogut helped a lot! This was around 9:00 this morning.

    The rest of the day was spent laying on the sofa sleeping, watching TV (what would you like to learn about Australian tuna fishing?), and basically resting.

    So much for my planned schedule. This surgery really does knock you down!

    I can feel the neck pain returning (mostly from the collar) so I will take two pain pills and try taking it easy some more. I do intend to put in a full day of office work tomorrow (a few scheduled naps might be a good idea!)

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    Congrats on your successful surgery. I from experience know how hard it is to take it easy after surgery but you must! After reading your experience with this surgery, do you mind if i ask a few questions? I am scheduled for level c5-6 corpectomy with fusion of c-3456 and seven. Did your surgeon use the cage as your hardware? I also will be receiving stem cells, Was your surgery from anterior or posterior approach? As you might be able to tell I am a little nervous concerning this surgery and I have not had much success finding someone to talk to with this many levels of fusion and stem cells. Any feedback would be welcome. once again congrats and please keep me updated on your progress
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  • Hi! My surgeon used the anterior approach, and I did have
    stem cell bone grafts to replace the three removed disks.

    The hardware I have is a single metal plate with 8 screws to provide support for the 3 replaced disks. The replacement disks are basically plastic disks with donor stemm cells and a growth-promoting substance embedded in them.

    Although at first glance it would seem to be easier to approach the spine from the back, the anterior approach is easier, according to my surgeon. I checked the incision today while changing my dressing and the scar is about 2 inches long at the lower front of my neck. I am amazed how he can work in such a small space, but apparently all that is needed is to get the microscope and tools in there...

    Like you I was quite nervous about the potential outcome, but I literally could have gone home the day after surgery. I am on just 2 pain pills as needed, which tends to be every 6 hours or so.

    The only real difficulty I have now is swallowing, which is to be expected. I think half of that problem is due to the Miami J Collar. All in all I would not hesitate to recommend this type of cervical disk surgery.

    I just need to be careful and take it easy. It is tempting to try to go back to a normal schedule, but I do not want to create a set-back by being over-active. However I do plan to work a full day today in my home office.

    When is your surgery?

  • I'm so glad to hear that your surgery went well & you are on the road to recovery. Do try to take it easy. I am now 5 wks post op & doing well. Hopefully only 1 more week in Miami J collar for me! Take care.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    Good afternoon,
    I hope your recovery is still progressing well. My surgery date is scheduled for 6/25/09 but am on a cancellation list for the surgeon wants to do my surgery as quickly as possible. I currently have 2 broken screws from a previous surgery that has caused the plate to begin backing-out,which in turn has caused the plate to put pressure on my esophagus. Please do not allow my experience from failed surgery to concern you about your surgery being successful. I have such an advanced stage of degeneration, according to the surgeon my spine is that of a 82 year old woman. I am only 46. This will be my sixth surgery on my spine and im sure it will not be the last.lol. I have had 3 cervical and 2 lumbar surgeries but this one scares me. The thought of completely removing the vertebra terrifies me although the surgeon believes i could be pain free from this surgery. I can only hope mine will be as successful as yours. Please keep me updated on your progress and i wish you a speedy recovery
  • with hardware .. i am trying hard to rest because i have incision pain..(tight) swallowing pain, getting better though, and pain across my shoulder blades.. when does this subside?
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi cookieflowerw,
    I had an acdf at the same levels as you only both posterior and anterior. It will take some time for you to stabilize as far as your discomfort is concerned. We
    are all different in the way we heal so patience is a virtue. I am almost 2 years post-op and I can honestly tell you there will be some days that are better than others. For the most part I feel very lucky to have what I do have, it could have been a lot worse if I didn't have the surgery. Take care, listen to your Dr's, and don't over-do it.
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