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Seeking for Decision Making Assistance

Hello everyone. I have been reading many helpful articles/forums discussions, and found to be VERY informative and helpful. Here I am finally signing up. :)

I just was told by a neurosurgeon that there are necessity, not an urgent one, for C6 corpectomy, C5-C7 anterior cervical fusion. I am glad this issue was found at an early stage, but I am very scared to go through with the surgery. The doctor told me that it will only get worse; and damages will be permanent. All I know as of now is that I will have a surgery when I decide to. However, I am having difficulty deciding when as in near future or wait for it to show more symptoms and symptoms to get worse. What are difference between corpectomy and discectomy? Thank you for your support and your assistance.



  • hello, momo-k!

    the decision to have surgery is never an easy one, for sure.  however, i will say that every case is different, and your "rate of deterioration" will not be the same as another individual with the same exact conditions/prognosis.  i don't know if it's such a hot idea to wait for your issues to get worse, though.  progression/worsening of symptoms can lay the unfortunate groundwork for your problems to become permanent ones.  you know the old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  i'm in no way suggesting you should choose one path over another, but wanted to bring attention to the fact that letting things go can have disastrous consequences for people with spinal problems.

    thank you for letting everyone know that you have found these forums to be helpful!  it's always good to hear that members feel like they have gained something from being here!

    i'd like to welcome you to spine-health!  please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!

    welcome to spine-health
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • Hello momo

    I can tell you from personal experience that I waited five years before deciding to have two level acdf.  I thought it wouldn't get worse or somehow I would be the exception to the rule.  I had three opinions and all three said surgery is necessary.  I know better than they did even though they went to medical school.  Now I am paying the piper for my procrastination.  Things got worse and they are staying bad.  I am going to have surgery and I wish I had not waited.  I am no longer afraid to have surgery because the pain is more than my fear at this time.  My point is if three drs tell you that you need surgery, guess what you do.  Learn from my mistake, I know everyone is different but I waited to long and they are all telling me now I will not get total relief from my symptoms.  I will take what I can get at this point.  I don't want to say anyone should have surgery but listen to your dr if you trust him or her if your condition warrants this. 


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  • Thank you for your replies.

    Kimmy72, I appreciate your quote "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  That's what I keep telling myself. It is more for prevention than anything else.

    Thank you dmo for your thoughts! I am saying something similar what you mentioned ->>> "It wouldn't get worse or somehow I would be the exception to the rule".  I am contemplating on getting a second opinion from a different neurosurgeon. 

    OMG!!! Having a cervical pine surgery is so serious decision... *sign*
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,510

    Welcome to the forums, glad to have you here.

    I usually tell members that everyone has to make this decision themselves based on the information available.  That means you have to compare the risks/rewards of having surgery and decide if and when you are ready.

    For dmo, that was 5 years later with regret.

    For me, it was just months.  I had to get back to working at 100%, so it was more of a no brainer for me than others.

    As far as your question about the difference between Corpectomy and Discectomy go, I would encourage you to use the search feature at the top right of this page.  When you search for each term, you will find articles, videos and member discussions.  The short version is Corpectomy removes some/all of a vertebrae while Discectomy removes some of the disc.

    Good luck with your decision.  Do you have any specific concerns?


    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • Momo-K, I went to five different doctors who all said the "S" word.  The last surgeon I consulted with told me it would be a battle of wills between myself and my pain until I came back to see him for surgery.  He was right, and I am with DMO about wishing I'd done it sooner...
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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  • Bruce, I appreciate your input. I am well aware that it is my decision to make, and mine alone. 

    Kimmy72, Thanks for helping me sought out my journey to get to this point. I have realized that getting to neurosurgeon was a long path. In a way, I was lucky that they have found cervical spine issue at this point of my life. I never have imagined that my shoulder surgery would have led me here.

    I started off with a shoulder pain, and had a acromioplasty. My recovery has been very slow, and pain has been persistent. A long story short, the shoulder surgeon referred me to another orthopedic doctor who is specialized in spine, and had an MRI for cerival spine done. He referred me to neurosurgeon after seeing my MRI, and also told me that he wouldn't be throwing "S" word around if he thinks that I wouldn't need it.

    The followings are what they found;
    C5-C6: There is moderate-severe spinal canal stenosis due to broad-based disc spur complex and ligamentum flavum thickening which result in mild circumferential mass effect upon the cervical cord. No focal cord signal abnormality is seen. There is moderate bilateral osteophytic neural foraminal stenosis, left greater than right.

    C6-C7: There is moderate-severe spinal canal stenosis due to prominent central disc extrusion and ligamentum flavum thickening, which combined to result in moderate cord compression. The inferiorly migrated disc extrusion component extends to the C7-T1 level. There is moderate right and moderate to severe left osteophytic neural foraminal stenosis primarily due to uncovertebral joint, and to a lesser degree, facet arthropathy.

    C7-T1: Lower portion of C6-C7 disc extrusion slightly indents the ventral thecal sac not resulting in significant canal stenosis. There is no significant neural foraminal stenosis.

  • No problem at all, Momo!  The decision to have surgery is never an easy one to make, and it's just the beginning!  I can say that once I made the commitment to have surgery, it removed the "what's next?" conundrum in my head.  It may sound strange, but it was a relief to have that certainty, even though it did mean I was having an operation!! 

    I found that the recovery process and planning for it was where the majority of my focus was in the months leading up to surgery.  I think that helped channel my anxieties about having surgery into something more constructive. I had my "ducks in a row" by the time my surgery date arrived, and aside from the natural pre-operative jitters, I felt confident in my choice of surgeon as well as the work I'd put into creating a practical recovery space for myself afterwards. 

    There are many members who understand exactly where you are right now, and there may come a day when you're six months post-op, feeling great, and reaching out to another new member about his or her fears about surgery!  Just take the time you need to do your research about your options, and get your mind off it by "going outside to play" every once in a while!   
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • What a GREAT advise, Kimmy72!

    "I think that helped channel my anxieties about having surgery into something more constructive. I had my "ducks in a row" by the time my surgery date arrived, and aside from the natural pre-operative jitters, I felt confident in my choice of surgeon as well as the work I'd put into creating a practical recovery space for myself afterwards."

    ANXIETIES!!! That's for sure!
    You are so right about channeling anxieties to more constructive energy. If you do not mind, can you explain little bit more about "duck in a row" and "practical recovery space."

  • Absolutely.

    "Ducks in a row" is a slang term for being prepared.  If you look at a picture of a family of ducks, you'll see that it goes from Mama/Papa down to ducklings.  Having your ducks in row means that you've covered the biggest down to the smallest details in preparing for, in this case, surgery (If that's what you choose, of course).

    A practical recovery space is one that makes it as easy on you as possible to function during the early phases of post-op recovery.  I had my doctor write a prescription for a hospital bed, made sure to store the things I used the most within easy reach, bought a raised toilet seat (TOTALLY worth it!), made sure I had "grabbers" in frequently used areas of the house, and so on.  I always refer people who are getting ready for surgery to the "37 Post-Op Must Haves" post on this site.  You can search for it in the upper right hand corner.  When your mind is going in a million different directions, it's SO helpful to have a list like that to refer to, as it can draw your attention to helpful items/considerations that might have otherwise been left off your list.

    Let me know if I can help out with anything else...I hope you're having a low pain evening! 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • momo-kmmomo-k Posts: 131
    edited 08/18/2016 - 2:13 PM
    ... so here I am still debating with myself over ACDF and corpectomy...

    I appreciate you for listening and also helping me sort out things or two.... If I have been repetitive, please forgive me.
    I have been explaining to myself that I am getting this surgery to stop progression of symptoms, and/or preventing symptoms from manifesting themselves in the future. Noticeable symptoms that I have been having far are; neck/shoulder pain, tingling in fingers/arms in the mornings, falling/tripping occasionally, and issues staying a sleep. Getting Stressed = Muscle Tensions = Shoulder/Neck Pains = Tension Headaches. More I do, more I notice that pains are there. PAIN and Low Endurance are the BIGGEST complaints I have. Since my SG left up to me as to when to have a surgery; I think I am trying to find a way to get out of it, or maybe, I am in a denial or some sort...

    I get the impression that I should not put to much hope in getting pain relief from the surgery, however, I should put more focus on "preventing future complications (issues with walking, numbing fingers, motor skills)."  Do I have it almost correct in what I should expect getting out of the surgery?
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