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Difficulty with swallow, breathing after ACDF

dbdsoulmedddbdsoulmed Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:34 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
did anybody have difficulty with:
1)swallow- food, liquid, anything
2) breathing
after having cervical spine surgery ???

I had surgery on Tuesday August 4. I had anterior
discetomy/fusion ( with cage) of C5-4, C4-3.
I also had posterior laminectomy and hardware at same levels.
Since that time, I have had sore throat ( constant,
difficulty swallowing anything ( it feels like there is a lump preventing passage of food/liquid), and shortness of breath.
Doctor warned me that the above risks were possible- and I am hoping they will be short lived.


  • i had both operations at different times. I think you should call the doctors office asap. I had a sore throat. anything hurt going down. No shortness of breath! call you doctor.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Hi Dbdsoulmed,
    First let me say welcome to spine-health. As was stated above call the surgeon immediately if you are having shortness of breath. The sore throat is normal, but not the shortness of breath. Did they change any meds following surgery. That could be a reaction to something you are taking. But then again we are no doctors here and that is something that only the surgeon can tell you. I would think they need to see you. Let us know what happens and welcome to spine health.
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  • Thanks for response. I will try to contact the neurosurgeons office.

    How long did you have the sore throat ?
  • thanks for reply. I will try to contact the neurosurgeons office.

    Did you have the sore throat, difficulty with swallowing ?
    If yes, how long did it last ?

  • I'm 3 weeks out on my surgery and still have issues swallowing. I've gotten pills stuck in my throat. I use ice chips to keep me swallowing to get them down. I really bloated myself drinking tons of fluid a couple times. That was ugly.

    Breathing problems no and I agree with the rest. Calling your doctor is best
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  • thanks for comments. I have not tried the ice chips.
    I was at a dinner meeting tonight and "choked" on some food.
    It was horrible- I could not speak, get the food down.

    Hopefully things will get better soon
  • I ate a lot of ice chips at the hospital until i was released. 24 hours! Maybe a week and half of the soreness in throat. sounds like the scratched your throat with the tube taking it out or putting it in. What did the doctor say?
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • right after my surgery level 2 acdf I had terrible sore throat, trouble swallowing, choking and some difficulty breathing. This was 3-19-08. It is now 8-24-09 and I have since seen an ENT dr. had swallowing tests. I have difficulty speaking (voice is only a whisper) my throat hurts after I try to speak for a short time. I choke at almost each meal. My husband does the cooking so I eat very soft foods. (mashed potatoes, jello, if I eat meat he cuts it up very small and I must chew everything for a long time) Dr.'s have suggested putting most of my food in a blender.
    My diagnosis is right vocal cord paralysis. I also had a pulmonary function test due to the breathing difficulties which came out okay. Thank goodness.
    I think when I choke obviously I get scared and anxious which makes my breathing difficult. So I have learned to slow down. Eating takes a long time but chewing up the food is very important. Mine is a very rare situation according to the surgeon. I believe there is a 1% chance this can happen during a cervical fusion. I was extremely upset at first and still frustrated at times but realized getting upset was making my breathing more difficult.
    I agree with everyone who has posted above! If you are having breathing difficulties contact your dr asap.
    As far as painful swallowing and hoarseness (if you have that issue) I was told it can take one year to return to normal. Of course don't go by what I was told obviously my outcome was not ideal. My post is in no way trying to scare you at all. Just want you to seek medical advice insofar as your breathing difficulties. That is most important. Most people return to completely normal function after a few months after their surgeries.
    Good Luck to you!
  • Wow! You were able to go out to a dinner so soon after surgery. I'm impressed. I haven't gone out of the house other than to the doctor. Just curious, why do the do the anterior and the posterior surgeries. That has to be tough. That even adds to my amazement that you are out and about.
  • Thanks for asking. My doctor said I had to have
    Anterior: because herniated discs were pressing on nerves, causing tingling, numbness
    Posterior: Pressure was on spinal cord itself, causing loss of strength, stumbling.

    I am very thankful to be recovering so quickly. I attribute this to:
    A) Lots of people are praying for me
    B) I was very motivated. Had surgery on August 4 and needed to start Seminary Aug 24. My wife was getting very tired of driving me around, so, doctor said I could drive on city streets

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