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Old 12-29-2004, 05:18 PM   #1
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colleen b HB User
Question Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Hello Everyone!

I was just informed that I need a two level cervical fusion. My c5/6 is ruptured and my 4/5 is slightly buldged. The surgeon that I went to did all of the work on James Brady many years ago when Reagan was shot. He is one of the best. He says that I definately need the 5/6 done, but not necessiarily the 4/5. I wonder if I should be looking into the disc replacement instead of the fusion. I am not sure if I am even a candidate because of the 4/5 question. I understand that it is only the one level approved with the FDA. I do not know what to do. I live in Washington D.C. and do not know where to go. The surgeon tells me that he is not up on the ADR. Can anyone give me some insite on there decision, and where I should turn to for the information? Help, I do not know what to do. THe doc says that I will not loose mobility at all with the way he perfoms the fusion. Sounds too good to be true. Help!

COlleen

 
Old 12-29-2004, 05:25 PM   #2
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Rhonni HB User
Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

I would ask your surgeon first. He would know whether you're a candidate for the artificial disc replacement. Then go from there.

 
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Old 12-30-2004, 04:37 AM   #3
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colleen b HB User
Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

My surgeon says that he does not know enough about it. I have asecond opinion Monday. Thanks TXHunni!

 
Old 12-31-2004, 07:03 AM   #4
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

I would love to be at that seminar. I am running out of time. Apparently my disc is now on my spinal cord and causing problems. I had a new MRI last night. I am very frustrated, I need to find a doctor in the Washington/Baltimore area that does the ADR. I would love to hear your story when you return from the seminar. Do you live in the LA area, or are you traveling for this seminar. I would consider traveling for it. Where can I find information about the seminar?

Thanks for all of your help!

Colleen

 
Old 12-31-2004, 09:49 AM   #5
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Thank you for the information. Do you need a one level or a two level? I found all of the information on the people in Germany that do two levels, but I really want to do it here. I have small children, and a business. No time for feeling bad. Two years has been long enough. Have you had a cervical epidural injection? I just had it done on Dec 22 and it really helped. My neurosurgeon found out that I did it and said that I was playing russian roulette. I dodged the paralysis bullet. I am scheduled for another one on January 11th and I am not sure now what to do.

Happy New Year

Colleen

 
Old 12-31-2004, 11:48 AM   #6
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

You are right. I just feel like my two years have been very tough and I am at my end. I want this overwith. I am almost 40 and I want to have another baby. My clock is ticking and I cannot get pregnant on the amount of meds that I am taking. I would be convicted of child abuse before even giving birth. LOL. I have 2 appointments for opionions on Monday. My new mri will be the test. I think Johns Hopkins is doing the trial. I am going to call there on MOnday also.

Have a Pain Free new year! Keep in touch.

Colleen

 
Old 01-01-2005, 12:37 PM   #7
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Colleen b.: Don't be afraid of the 2 level fusion if you have a high grade neurosurgeon. I now have 4 level fusion and am doing great. I first had 3 level fusion with the 4th level bulging in 11/2000. At the time of the first operation I had fought off surgery for 5+ yrs to the point where pain was becoming unbearable and my ability to walk and function with my arms was becoming impaired. I was told if they did not operate at that point some of these problems would begin to become permanent. I obeyed all recovering directives and now have good mobility. I was rear ended in a car accident in 2001 which resulted in my need for the 4th level fusion. So I live a very normal life with 4 level fusion. I am now 52 yrs old, I can almost move my neck fully to the r/l shoulder points (it's the bottom 4 levels that are fused & plated) and the main limitation is in the forward movement to which I cannot place my chin on my chest which I do not consider a big deal. My only "complaint" with the fusion is that if I strain my neck in a side position for too long it will create a muscle cramp. It was well worth the step forward to have the surgery. Good Luck and God Bless.

 
Old 01-01-2005, 01:19 PM   #8
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Thank you so much for the information WUV! Happy New Year to you!

Do you believe that the fusion had any effect on the other discs in you spine? I am worried about what it will do to my lumbar which is not in great shape, but tolerable.

Do you think that it is the skill level of the surgeon that determines if you loose any mobility or not?

Thank you in advance for any information that you can give me!

Colleen

 
Old 01-01-2005, 03:33 PM   #9
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Hi Colleen
Can you tell me about your symptoms??? My last MRI was 3/04 and showed 5/6 tear, 6/7 left herniation and 3/4 bulging disc. Just want to hear what others are having as far as symptoms. I feel mine has gotten worse but kind of at witts end with the lumbar fusion I had already.Please reply if you can shelley

 
Old 01-01-2005, 05:33 PM   #10
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Hi Shelly:

My symptoms are: Pain in the upper back, swollen hands that tingle (not a good tingle, a painful one), Burning, muscle spasms in my neck and upper back, zapping around my lips and cheeks, tinnitus, and when I turn my head to back out of my driveway I get this spinning and a noise that goes with it in the back of my neck. Very strange. The doctors sent me for a Brain MRI which came back normal, so all of the weird spinning and noises in the back of my head are from my neck. No, I am not crazy and answering the voices in my head! LOL If you have any other questions I am here! Are your symptoms similiar? So you had a lumbar fusion? Do you think that the fusion in the lumbar had anything to do with your neck problems? I am so afraid that if I have a fusion that it will all go south.

Happy New Year

Thank you for the information R.O.P!

 
Old 01-02-2005, 03:19 PM   #11
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Colleen b: Happy New Year to you!
Sorry for the delay in answering, I just got back on the boards today. As previously stated by another poster, the quality of your neurosurgeon is, in my opinion, extremely important but also one of several factors in your mobility and recovery. The most important factor after the surgery is your compliance to your recovery. I stayed in the hard neck brace for the full period of time requested by the surgeon. Once I could remove the hard brace, I did small intervals of exercises by moving my neck from side to side but not forcing it. I believe this was a large part in the success of my ability to have the range of motion that I now have. I also believe that if you try to rush the healing process and do more than you should, you can do permanent damage to the healing with possible long term effects.
As for the rest of your spine, I too have lower back problems which includes chronic spondylolitheses. Before my first neck fusion, my neck had actually-over time- reversed its curve which also threw off the rest of my upper back curvature which, I was told, had over compensated for the cervical mess over the years. After my recovery from the operation, my neck pain was resolved but I had to work with my chiropractor to keep the upper back from being too painful as well. After about a year of chirpractic care and more adequate posture, by upper back has come around to relatively good condition. My spondylolitheses is bad enough that only consistent chiro care (or an operation which I am not willing to commit to at this point) can keep me going in the lower back. This lower back problem was not worsened by the neck operation at all. For me, the orthos had given up on my lower back when I was in my late 20s which took me to chiropractic care. With chiropractic I have kept off the operating table with my spine but even my chiropractor was advising the cervical surgery the two years prior to my finally giving in to it. As you can see, I am not one to easily give in to medicines and surgery. At present, I am content and functional. Now I know bringing up chiropractic ususally opens a whole can of worms on the boards, but I for one never had it until the orthos gave up on me - after tractions, injections, braces, etc. Once I was faced with an operation at that early age, I was determined to try what I could to stay out of the operating room as long as possible. Against all ortho recommendations, I went to a chiro who had also been in sports medicine. He was able to bring from a point of constant pain and intermittent loss of use of my left leg, to better mobility and function. So, again, the quality of the practitioner is a major key, in my opinion.
I have been through a lot with my health, and my families' health issues over the past 30 years. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to ask what you need. Best of all, never be intimidated by doctors who don't want to be questioned. Some don't like it, but they all must answer-it's your right! God Bless and take care.

 
Old 01-02-2005, 03:29 PM   #12
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

WUV!

Thank you so much for the information. It is greatly appreciated and it will help me with my decision tomorrow. I am meeting with 2 neurosurgeons tomorrow to help me make the decision also. I must wait til at least February because we are taking the kids to disney at the end of the month.

Was the pain after the surgery muscular or just from the incision or nerve pain? Or I guess was it all of the above? The doc that operated on James Brady tells me that it is 3 weeks in a soft colar and then after 3 months I will be back at the gym with full mobility.

I am a realtor. Do you think that I will be able to work after a week or two?

Thank you again for any help you can give.

Colleen

 
Old 01-02-2005, 03:49 PM   #13
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Re: Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? HElP?

Colleen:
Considering my levels of fusion were of a larger number (my first one was 3 levels at once) I never had the choice of a soft collar coming out of surgery but if your doc is the one who did James Brady, I would definitely consider that he knows what he's doing in that area. But I would strongly caution you on not trying to bend or twist your neck too much during the first month. The soft collar gives you more mobility which also can set you up for more damage if you don't adhere strictly to the post operative directions. That would be my only fear for you since you indicate you have children, which I assume to be small (under the teen years). The hard collar forces you to keep your head in a straight and "frozen" position. You can take it off for showers & a "rest" period - not lying down but rest for the neck- about an hour a day. For the first 2 weeks I could not remove it at all except to change bandage. After the first 2 weeks, I could remove it for "rest" periods. After 3 weeks, I could use the soft collar only for walking inside the home if no steps were involved. But again, your doc appears to be a very capable and competent one. The key here is to make your recovery your number 1 priority. Poor choices in pushing too fast can cause you long term problems but this is also not an excuse to avoid everything. Your doc will advise you well in this area.

Pain after surgery was more muscular, I feel. Sure there was incision discomfort but after the operation, the brace seems to create a need to use muscles more than you did before therefore cramping of the muscles was more significant for about 2 weeks. I assume they will be doing the incision from the front for the lower 2 levels, which is common. I had it both ways, front for the first 3 levels and back with the 4th level. The front incision is MUCH MORE comfortable and easy to bounce back from than the rear incision. It has something to do with the muscles needing to be moved more from the back entry. I recovered much more quickly from the first fusion-which went in from the front. The 4th level took me longer and was more painful for me.

I used to be a Realtor as well in my 20s & 30s! YES! Once healed, you will have no problem going back to full working abilities. And, yes, with 2 level fusion I too believe you will probably be back to full function and mobility as your doctor has said. I was back within 3 months with my 3 level & within 4 months with my 4th level (also had to repair some damage done by the car accident to the prior 3rd level next to the 4th being replaced & fused). After both I went back to working 6-7 days a week as an appraiser which included measuring houses and walking sites.
Good luck and GOD BLESS!

Last edited by WUV; 01-02-2005 at 03:50 PM.

 
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