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C6-7 fusion with discectomy scheduled next month



  • So strange Ivy- my Doc never suggested the artificial disc just went right into telling me about ACDF so that was what I thought I was getting. I think my vertebra are in pretty good shape and I do have the three slight henriations above at c5 c4 and c3. It was the surgical coordinator who asked what I was getting done and offered ACDF or artificial disc. So you can see why I am confused. Then after phone call with Doc suggesting he would like to get approval for both and when he is in there decide what he is going to do. Seems a bit scary the unknown. I am not feeling very secure about the insurance decision. My sweet husband says we will pay the difference . Yikes I don;;t think he knows how much these surgeries cost. As a PT the artificial disc almost looks like what you would get if you had a knee replacement except no bone removal . I could be totally off . Was trying to find pictures of some of the different C spine artificial discs. He talked about 3 different ones that he can use but I can't remember the names.
  • I just wanted to share my never ending story with everyone to confuse you more. I am 50 years old, I had my 1st neck surgery c4/c5 in 1998 (35 yrs old). We used my hip bone. The neck surgery went fine but right before my 6 week check up, I started running 104 temp. My hip started feeling as if it had heat in it. I called the neck doc, he told me to go to my family doctor, said I probably had the flu. Well, my family doctor thought the same thing that I did so he ran a blood culture and within 48 hours I was admitted in the hospital for my long 7 day stay. So, during those 7 days, I had a total of 4 more surgeries so the attending doctor could scrape my hip bone.
    ( did I mention my regular neck doctor was gone on his honeymoon and didn't have time to DEAL with me) I was off of work for 6 weeks with a pic line. Home health came out ever so often and kept me supplied with needles so I could get the medical attention and meds that I needed.
    Let's jump to the year 2000. So, now I'm having pain again and it's time for surgery
    on c5/c6. Hey, I THOUGHT I would be smart and this time we used the cadaver bone. I really didn't like the thoughts of having something in my body that belonged to a dead person. So, I get a 2 disc plate. Of course the doc says everything went fine and looked like it had healed perfectly. Within a few months I was back in his office again still having pain. I actually felt like something was trying to poke out of the back of my neck. The 1st thing he wants to do is a myelogram. Well, after the test, every time I would stand up I would get the worst headache that you could ever imagine. The only way that my head would stop hurting was to lay down. I called his office once again. Well, seems that when he tapped my spine for the myelogram test, it wasn't totally sealed and I was leaking spinal fluid. So, back to the hospital once again for a blood patch. OK, I get that fixed and we discuss where to go now.
    So, he is supposed to be going back in my neck to take out the hardware, said I was probably having some type of allergic reaction. He also assured me this was an easy surgery and no need for a neck brace. So, when he gets into my neck, oh, looks like the cadaver bone didn't take at all (partially fused) so, when I wake up I've had another bone taken from the other hip, a 2 disc plate and I had a brand new neck brace to show off.
    At this point I have had all I can take of this doctor and refuse to go back. I found a pain management doctor and dealt with it. And yes, I took pain meds everyday, I raised my kids and held down a full time job and worked my way to the top of the corporate ladder.
    Now, let's jump to 2010
    My neck hurts all of the time. I seek out and find a new neck doctor. (Do you blame me) As this point, I do NOT want surgery, i just want some therapy if possible. Just for the record, my old doctor is still in business. So we do the x-rays and MRI's. The doc says that I need surgery again. This time on c6/c7 but he says, the disc below it c7/t1 is not going to last another year. I really need to do it to while I'm in there. He told my quote, therapy will not help you, you need surgery. My new doc had NEVER performed a 4 disc replacement. He told me he was the doctor that could do it. He asked permission to video tape my surgery and he now uses it as a training tool. The healing and fusing was a slow go, i ended up having to wear a bone growth stimulater for a few weeks just as a precaution.
    My neck felt great for a few years but as most people know......all good things come to an end. Oh, my new doc showed me the x-rays and the old hardware that he replaced, 1 of the screws were fed crooked , and one was almost completely off.
    I'm calling Dr. S (new doc) next week for another look. So, wish me luck.
    Gina P
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  • Asil65AAsil65 Posts: 112
    edited 04/28/2015 - 1:47 AM
    Yikes Gina. What a terrible journey you have had. I am so sorry . I hope that you find a Doc who can really take care of you. I love my NS . I really have a lot of faith in him. He has been in the field for over 40 years. I guess maybe what you are trying to tell me is don't have surgery. Don't let anyone into your neck because of the complications down the road? Maybe I am reading into the message too much so I apologize if I am.
    I have to take some very strong pain meds to control he pain. I can't stay on these meds. I am worried that my insurance will think that I have been not suffered long enough (almost 8 weeks since herniation). But I have atrophy, absent triceps reflex and pain without meds that is awful. Wishing you luck Gina.
  • jules9909jjules9909 Posts: 26
    edited 04/28/2015 - 5:05 AM
    I am getting the ACDF surgery next week. My NS never mentioned the possibility of an artificial disc but I guess it varies a lot by the dr. I have a lot of friends who had this surgery in the last few years and all but one of them have been very happy with it ( the one who wasn't happy didn't have an issue post surgery; it just didn't help him with his headaches). I am getting mine because my whole spinal cord is starting to be compressed and its gotten bad enough now that my muscles twitch all the time all over and I fall a lot because of reflex issues in my legs (also knock a lot of stuff over and drop things).

    Sounds like you have done your research and have a good NS at least! :)

  • Hi Julie,
    I asked one of my Physical therapy friends for some Doc recommendations. Finally got into see one of the NS she recommended and really Liked him. He has a ton of experience and is well respected. I did get second opinion and he agreed that I needed surgery and that I was in good hands with my surgeon. Felt better about that. I still may go with the ACDF as you are not allowed to get approved for two procedures when you need authorization. My surgeon was thinking he could get into my neck see if the cervical disc that he uses were a good fit and if so go that route. The woman who is in charge of obtaining authorization and scheduling surgery said that will never fly. Th e thing that I can't figure out is how a Doctor knows if the artificial disc will fit or not? In the cervical area the vertebra are much smaller. Julie I will be thinking of you next week . Are you having multiple levels done?
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  • Yes, I am having c5/6 and C6/7 done. A engineer friend of mine told me when his wife had the neck surgery (now I realize it must have been a artificial disc placement but I didn't think about it at the time) that once the dr looked inside he saw that he needed much bigger hardware than he thought and had to have someone get different hardware. He told her after the surgery that she is a big women and by big he meant big bones because her cervical discs were the size of most people's lumbar discs. Shocking that he didn't notice that when looking at the MRI.

  • Yes I suppose if you are big boned you may have big cervical vertebra too. Just met with my Doc today. Pushing insurance for artificial disc replacement vs fusion as I am a diabetic and may have a harder time with fusion. Also have a bulging disc at c5 which the fusion may put too much pressure on . Fingers crossed that insurance gives us the OK. He said that basically in the long run the prices are pretty similar. Less follow up MRI and X ray needed post surgery with the artificial disc. I did not know that they come in different sizes. funny!
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