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Severe Swallowing Issues After ACDF

In October 2013, I had ACDF surgery at c5-c7. I experienced swallowing issues subsequent to surgery, but was able to get down some solid food. My swallowing issues seemed to be improving as the weeks went by. About 5 weeks after the surgery, I suddenly developed severe swallowing issues. I am now only able to swallow/eat yogurt, creamed soups and protein shakes.

I had a barium swallow test that indicated a sluggish and weakened swallowing function. My surgeon seems stumped by this for someone my age (I'm 56). He's also never seen it where a person was able to eat some solids, and then suddenly regressed. He thinks it will resolve in the next month or so. However, I've seen absolutely no improvement. He's recommended swallowing therapy. I questioned whether it was the hardware (he uses the Medtronic Atlantis plate), but he said there is no data to support the hardware causes the problem and he's never had a problem that hasn't resolved. However, I found a few studies that indicate the Atlantis causes more dysphagia than the Zephyr

He sent me to an ENT and he was not as optimistic. He's indicating that this will take a year or more to resolve (if at all). He also does not think it is the hardware. He thinks its neurological He basically recommended me to swallowing therapy and said there is nothing more that he could do for me. My surgeon also recommended swallowing therapy. Of course, I am at my wits end and so I'm definitely going to go to therapy.

My question is: has anyone else ever heard of/experienced this--improving in swallowing and then all of a sudden backsliding to it being worse than right after the surgery. Any insight as to causes? Has anyone heard of it resolving within a reasonable timeframe. If so, how long?

Sorry for the long winded email, but as I stated I am very concerned about this.


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,269
    edited 12/14/2013 - 3:31 AM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    You might want to consider doing a search of the forums and the main website to see if there are more posts with your similar hardware,. There are common threads about swallowing issues after ACDF surgeries , however I am not sure how many are related to that particular manufacturer.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hi johndib,
    Post-op from my 360 degree fusion of C4 thru C7 back in 2007 I had a short time of some discomfort swallowing but that resolved itself. I have a cage, strut, plates, rods, and screws to stabilize my neck.
    Did the ENT do a scope of your upper GI? This past year it has gotten more difficult for me to swallow food and after further investigation I have been diagnosed with barrett's esophagus. It's not related to my fusion at all. Glad I had it checked out though as if left unchecked it could result in throat cancer.
    If need be try and get another opinion.
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  • John - I am only two days post op from acdf c7-t1 and have some swallowing issues but they appear to be minor as long as they go away. I read a lot of the forum threads for this surgery and the majority did report the swallowing issue but for most it cleared up in a week or so. I have not read anyone that had it go away and suddenly come back with a vengeance. Hope you get to the root of it quickly.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Ren24RRen24 Posts: 39
    edited 10/12/2014 - 4:34 PM
    i also had a discectomy and allograft with playing at c5-6. Had normal sore throat and swelling after which cleared up. Now suddenly at two n a half months after surgery I have sensation somethin is stuck in my throat and it's Driving me nuts XrAy I my showed spasm in my neck. Ct scan showed nothing. Mri showed small 6mm something I. Left neck too small to be causing this. I see an ent tomorrow n hope she will look with scope and see something or have a clue. How could I have nerve damage suddenly 2 1/2 mo after I was healed. Anyone else???
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