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elderly needing acdf for spinal cord compression

esthersareesthersar Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My mother, who's 83, has three cervical discs compressing on her spinal cord. She was told today that she has to have surgery or she'll likely become paralyzed.

It appears to be "deja vu all over again" because I recently had an acdf for spinal cord compression 3 months ago and am still recovering. Neither of us, nor anyone else in our family, have any history of back problems; so this is indeed odd.

As tough as recovery has been going for me -- and I only had one level fused -- I'm much more concerned about my mother, who needs three levels fused!

I'm wondering if anyone knows of anyone who's in their 80s and has had similar surgery with success or what their advice might be regarding surgery for an elderly person who's in good health otherwise (e.g. try conservative treatment no matter what?). Thanks much!


  • HI Esther,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around as there are a lot of very good doctor written peer reviewed articles you might find helpful.

    As far as the situation wit your mother, I am really not sure what you should do. As some one whom keeps up with my parents on all medical needs, it is a game changer when your the responsible one to make decisions for them. First thing how many opinions did you get? I would without a doubt get more than one opinion. I would also see if you could find a surgeon whom specializes more in geriatric. One thing for sure is I would find about the post care follow-up and what they will do to get your mom up and going. As you already know sometimes within the realm of medicare it doesn't matter what the doctors want but the rules of medicare apply, if that is her primary insurance.

    When you say the disc are compressing the spinal cord does your mother have myelopathy? What type of symptoms is she having? I guess I am looking for wether or not the disc is actually effecting the spinal cord. In the elderly it is not uncommon to see severe stenosis. M dad fell not long ago and ended with a compression fracture, he is 90. However to fix the compression fracture the stenosis through his spine is so bad that it wouldn't do much good and may render him in worse shape than he is now. So I think you just need to examine this situation from all levels and treatment plans. Also you are the one whom knows your mom best and would know just how well she might be able to get through such a large surgery. I am a four level myself, so I can tell you that is a lot of work. One thing I would be checking is if they will be doing frominatomies and the amount of bone they maybe removing. Also wether or not she has bone spurs that need to be removed or is just disc that have herniated?

    Anyway just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Sorry I can't really give you anymore concrete ideas, but that is such a personal choice and being in the trenches so much with my own parents, I understand your concerns and fears. I just worry about someone's ability to recover and like I say your going to be the best gauge at knowing your mother. Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    You may have the right questions to ask given your experience. But in addition perhaps asking based on possible bone deterioration at age 83 what do they do differently. Perhaps more hardware that supports the fusion? Bone growth stimulator? What if they get in and the bones are weak or soft? What's the plan of action.

    My dad had his hip replaced at 81 and they said he had good bone structure so it went very well. Someone else 81 could have soft bones or brittle bones.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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  • In my experience, I've found that giving my elderly mother her own edit at least gave me peace of mind in the moments that I was not able to be there for her. That way, she could get emergency help if she needed, just by pushing a button and nothing else. Anyways, I find every little bit helps. Best of luck to everyone in their search.

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    Post Edited by Authority Member Liz

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