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Home After 4 Level Anterior Cervical Disectomy and Fusion

ValgalVValgal Posts: 38
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Just got home from 4 level ACDF, C3-C7 using four cages and BMP yesterday at 8am. (8-17)

So far, I've had little or no swelling and was up and walking yesterday afternoon with a little bit of nausea.
I had scrambled eggs for dinner. Scrambled eggs, grits, and cottage cheese for breakfast with prune juice :)

I was already on Tramadol and Neurontin and I doubt I will need my new RX of Xycodone after today and tonight. (I'm also on a boatload of other new meds: steriods for a week, muscle relaxer, antacid).

I am up and around at home with a little neck pain around the incision and shoulder blade muscle spasms but all my arm, shoulder and wrist pain and tingling is gone :)

I hope this helps some of those with the trepidation I was feeling last week. I do expect to run into some complications and challenges along the way but this surgery was really a piece of cake compared to what I thought it would be. (Way easier than a c-section,ladies!) :H

Anyone else out there have a good experience with 4 level ACDF?? I can't wait to go back to PT but have to wait two to four weeks.

Thanks everybody!
Valgal, 48 years old, mom to two sweet boys ages 5 and 6.

Diagnosis: Broad based disc protrusions C4-5, 5-6 and 6-7, anterolisthesis C3 on C4 second to facet DJD. Multilevel degenerative cervical spondylosis with kyphosis centered at C4, disc osteophype complexes C3-7, Multi level foraminal stenosis.


  • Welcome home! I told ya the anticipation is worse than the surgery. It's hard to fathom that, but it's really true.

    Now, be aware that you might feel pretty good today and tomorrow, but you might feel like you got hit by a truck in a day or two. When that sedation wears off completely, you might be telling a little different story. I hope not, but that's happened to a lot of us, so keep those pain pills handy.

    When I got home from the hospital after my 3-lvl ACDF, my hubby asked me if I could even just act like I'd just had major surgery, I was so gung ho. Then, two days later *WHAM* I was sidelined in my recliner for a while.

    I'm glad the arm issues were gone after surgery - that's not uncommon either. How's the swallowing? Sounds like you have a sore throat, but no big issues?

    Glad you posted and be sure to follow doc's orders. Walk when you can, rest when you need to, and no BLT (or housecleaning!!!).

    Take care and again, welcome to the other side.
  • Congrats on being on the other side!! I go in in 6 weeks to verify I have not smoked for 6 weeks; and if I am good (I plan on it!!) surgery shortly there after for 5 levels.

    One of the questions my hubby had was 'how long in the hospital' as my other two fusions were 24 hours. I am pleased and surprised to see at 4 you were out in 24. I actually like that!!! Hopefully the same will ring true for me.

    Please keep us posted on your progression. I agree with Cathy that you will feel tops for a few days, and as all that crap the anesthesiologist put in wears off, "ouch" mode will happen. Fingers crossed it is a mild transition. Again, welcome home!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Thanks, Cath 111!
    I'm prepared for tomorrow if I feel worse. I'm just relieved I didn't swell up or wake up with agonizing throat pain.

    I have no sore throat, though it does feel a little swollen.
    No swallowing issues except I just ate a raw carrot and it wasn't the easiest thing to swallow, won't be doing that again!

    I slept like a baby last night in the hospital, thanks to the ambien they gave me.

    I actually called my Dr. on Monday with second thoughts and asking for other options. He was very reassuring and answered all my concerns about BMP, four levels, etc.

    I loved hugging people with both arms today :)
    Will keep you posted on tomorrow, etc. I probably have done too much today but really just sat around with my mom and am making a roast chicken for dinner.
    Husband doing ALL housework and driving, and no work till at least September 21st.

    Hope your C3 and 4 aren't giving you too much trouble today.:)

  • Hi Brenda,

    I went in to the hospital at 6am, surgery at 8am, went home around noon today.

    I wanted to go home yesterday afternoon but no go.

    My doc put me in a soft collar yesterday but said I didn't need to sleep in it and today could take it off as long was I wasn't in the car, walking, or around small children and pets. I was surprised because I had heard so much about other people spending most of the day in their collars.

    Hang in there with the smoking! I smoked for more than 29 years and tried quitting a gazillion times. Believe it or not, going on the chats and forums for people with lung cancer and other diseases and looking at pics of diseased lungs helped me quit cold turkey. I'm smoke free for 6 years with no desire to start up again.:)
  • Val,

    Hopefully I too will be out of there in a day... My surgeon told me I *will* at a minimum be in a hard collar for 3 months. With my fusion, it is partly (the middle of it) a revision, and too it joins the cervical to the thoracic. This will all be done posteriorly.

    I did give him my hard collar preference of the Aspen - it is rather comfy for me! He just smiled.

    For my past 2 fusions, I was only in a hard collar for a little over a week, and soft for 2 weeks after that. Like you, "wear it in a car, around kids, out and about."

    As for smoking, congrats!! I've been smoking (inhaling that is) for 32 years, and with this huge surgery in front of me, the motivation is very high. My plan is cold turkey. I quit in the past, but the motivation was low, so the efforts failed. The good out of it though is I know physically what to expect. Fingers crossed tight!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Hi all,
    I have been reading your posts in regards to surgerys. I had mine done July 5th, and still in pain, other different pain sensations. They say it will pass. This week was the first time that I actually could swallow something without backing it with water to push it down. I have been using a spondeltyis bone stimulator for 13 days now, and I do hate it. I feel it makes me in worse pain, however I can hold my head up longer during the day.
    At first i thought I was gong crazy and mad at the Doctor, because nerves felt like they were jumping in my body and I get nausea and dizzy after using it for 30 minutes every night. I go for my 8 week checkup August 30th which at that time I will have an X-Ray. I guess I just need to be positive that all is going well.
    I get tired very easy. I try to do things rather than laying down all the time.Are any of you driving at 6 weeks out? I also have a rotor cuff tear which is not taken care of yet. That was the first issue why I went to doc in the first place, The orthropedic gave me a shot, and sent me within 5 minutes to the Neorsurgeon as 4 bones spurs were pushing into my spinal and 2 disks crushed. So that was prior. I just wonder if anyone has still have different pain sensations in shoulders and sometimes down arms. Night time is terriable. I was told that this is all normal. It isn't the same pain I had before surgery. ????I have to wear this hard color July-September. Hey on the soft coloars to dress it up. A friend made me different colors to go with different outfits. I thought that was so cool. The medical company should do desighns. Prayers for all. Just concerned and venting. I did have 8 screws and a plate put in.
  • First off, Welcome to Spine Health! Presently my levels I had surgery (fusion - ACDF) on is C5/6 & C6/7. Due to the fusion failing and causing additional issues, within 2 months they will fuse me at 5 levels. Recovery for it will be over a year assuming no further issues happen.

    You are just hitting 6 weeks, and had 3 levels fused. That is a big surgery, and too your whole spine is affected by it forever. The loading and dynamics have now been changed, and it will take time for your spine, muscles, ligaments etc., to adjust and settle down. The other, the nerves... Nerves really hate being compressed and take a while to recover.

    To give you a small idea. We'll all had our leg/foot fall asleep right? What happens as it 'wakes up?' It stings, it hurts! Okay, with that image in mind, now picture your nerves and nerve roots in your spine are now free, and they are trying to wake up. They heal at about 1mm a day, so it can take a while.

    Pain in the shoulders, back, neck from spasms can go on for months! I know from my surgeries and recoveries, had them pretty frequently for the first 6 months, and then they started to back down. Muscle relaxers can also help.

    Driving: for both of my recoveries I was driving around week 6 or 7. This one coming up most likely won't be driving for over 3 months! And depending how much range of motion, driving might be a thing of the past for me - time will tell.

    Just remember, try to judge your recovery by weeks and not days. You will have your good days and bad, and then of course the in between types of days. Try to walk to keep your oxygen rates up for the best healing, try to eat healthy, and rest where you can. Please let us know how it goes.

    Again, Welcome aboard!!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • My 4 level ACDF was Wednesday morning. I still feel rapid improvement!

    Sleeping at home was a bit painful in my neck last night, mostly in front where the incision is.

    But all my arm and shoulder pain, tingling and numbness is still 99 percent gone :)

    I am supposed to walk as much as I can so I went shopping today with my mom driving. I feel better the more I am on my feet, not sitting, though I did spend about an hour on the computer. Need to work out the ergonomics once and for all and can't wait to get back to PT to work on that.

    I do feel swelling in my throat but today ate more scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, roast chicken, pizza, salad and quiche.

    Thanks so much for all your feedback and help, will keep you posted. My mom has been here for 3 days but is leaving tomorrow; I won't feel ready to drive till at least a week since my head doesn't turn far in either direction. My husband will be in charge of the boys and the driving so my recovery continues...

  • Val,

    I'm still a little jealous here. I was told to expect between 3 and 5 days if all goes well in the hospital. Maybe since my will fuse cervical to thoracic makes it different?

    So glad to hear all is going well. Yeah, walking, walking, walking...been there, done that, about to do that again! (G)

    My ROM already sucks, but one good thing, get creative with your car mirrors when you start driving again. I have a feeling my driving days will be very much reduced once cleared. Don't push yourself, tell your body to keep up the good work!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda, I would guess since they are having to Redo a failed fusion that's a lot more complicated and invasive PLUS it's posterior. Mine was anterior.
    It really has been much easier than expected and today I'm just trying not to overdo it.

    Also, I'm not sure what meds everyone else's neuro had them on post op but I am taking a boatload!
    Gabapentin: from before surgery, still taking
    Tramadol: from before surgery not still taking although I'm supposed to.
    Methocarbamol 750 mg: Muscle relaxer to prevent shoulder blade spasm reaction to ACDF
    Oxycodone: 5gm, 1 to 2 caps every 4 to 6 hours, don't really need this one today.
    Dexamethasone: Steriod to prevent swelling from BMP, taking decreasing doses for 8 days

    Anyone else who has had 4 level ACDF, how soon and far could you turn your head up or down or to the sides? I don't think I'm even supposed to be trying yet.. but it really doesn't want to go anywhere.

    I'm still loving how my arms feel though!!weeee!
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