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Need help and guidance regarding upcoming cervical stenosis surgery

just-peachyjjust-peachy Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello fellow Spine Health members!
I am brand new to this site/forum, and would like to introduce myself. Also,I have a few questions and concerns that I hope you can address.I am a 54 year old female. Yesterday I had my first appointment with my spine surgeon and he reviewed my mri results with me. I'm a bit overwhelmed today, due to the bad news I received. He said I have "severe bilateral stenosis at C3 through C6". He plans to make incisions in the front and back of my neck, and fuse my vertebrae. I'm freaking out! What I would like to know is- just how severe and painful is this type surgery and how long is the recuperation time? What can I expect? How did it work out for you? Any help, suggestions, personal experiences would be greatly appreciated!


  • Hi Peachy -

    I am a 52 year old female. I thinking you are talking about ACDF surgery, which is anterior cervical discectomy with fusion. May 2 I had my ACDF surgery on 4 levels - C3-C7. It is done through the front of the throat on one side or the other. You can clarify with your surgeon to make sure exactly what he is doing. I've never heard of going through the front and back - only one approach or the other.

    I'm 1- 1/2 weeks out of surgery. The pain was well managed after the surgery, and hasn't been much worse if at all than prior to surgery. I was in the hospital 4 days, but many people have been in less.

    I was admitted from surgery into the ICU. I was in the ICU for 2 nights (usually they said people are in 1). I was pretty out of it for a while. Usually on day 2 (I was on day 3) the catheter comes out. I was moved into a regular floor. I got up into a chair. I had PT/OT a couple of times, and they said I was good to go home. They want me to use a walker in case I have balance issues for a while. I'm not sure about duration of recovery. I have to have a hard collar on for 6 weeks and no driving for six weeks.

    It is a scary surgery to think about. Do a lot of research, including this site. Make sure you have more than 1 opinion - MDs who think you should have surgery, and how many levels and why. You could go with an ortho or neurosurgeon - whoever you feel most confident in.

    Feel free to PM me if you want.

    Take care,


    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.

  • I am very interested to hear what your symptoms were/are as I have been told that I have C3/C4 and C4/C5 compressing my spinal cord.

    From what I have read, they do sometimes do surgery from the front and the back (unusual) if there is compression from the front and also from the back of the spinal cord. Things are to tight and it is too risky to try to work around the cord at that level.

    I saw a lady at church last week who had had surgery at C5/C6 (I think) from the back. Her scar was looking great, and she had a necklace on which lay over her scar. She was only 6 weeks after surgery and was doing ever so well, moving her head quite freely. I think that her recovery is going extremely well, but it was very encouraging to see. She said that she is feeling very much better now and her arm and hand symptoms have gone. Here in the UK, they don't seem to use a brace very much. (She didn't have one at all.)

    Were there complications that caused you to need to be in ICU?

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  • My issues were - there was compression at the spinal chord at C3-C4. I also had a lot of disc degeneration and severe stenosis, multiple herniations,at C5-C6 and C6-C7. C4-C5 was actually fairly good, but the Ortho said that disc wouldn't last long with the pressure and strain from having the discs out above and below.

    My symptoms were pain in the neck, shoulders and down the shoulder blades, radiating pain down the arms, pain in my hips and down the legs (especially right). With the leg issues I wasn't sure if that was because of disc issues I also have at L5-S1.

    At this point the pain in my legs is gone (yeah)! I still have some pain in the right arm, and more down the left, but that still could get better (or worse) as recovery progresses.

    My surgeon routinely admits ACDF students into the ICU because he is conservative and wants additional monitoring of the airway, especially with multiple levels. I also have had esophagus issues. As it turned out, it was a difficult intubation.

    I am satisfied with my progress.

    Take care. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • It is very encouraging to hear that the pain in your legs is gone. :-) I also have pains and other symptoms in my legs and feet. I am due to have a complete spine MRI scan, and I guess that is to try to work out what is causing my symptoms. It could be my neck, or my thoracic or my lumbar (which should have been sorted now, but it could be the level above or below.)

    I wonder if they intubate (is that a word?) for a lumbar fusion. If they did, it didn't cause me any problems after my lumbar fusion.

    Although my surgeon concentrated on the C3/C4 and C4/C5 levels when he was looking at my MRI scan, because they are compressing my cord, the rest of my neck looked a mess to me. It also looked rather worryingly like one of the vertebra had slipped forward on another! That is was led me to my lumbar fusion (spondylolisthesis)! He didn't mention it, so hopefully my inexperienced eyes were seeing things. He has ordered flexion and extension x-rays though, and I have been told that is to check for instability.

    Hope you are having a low pain day today. :D

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