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Old 12-08-2004, 02:32 PM   #1
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banjo123 HB User
Question singing after discectomy & fusion

I just had a C5 C6 discectomy and fusion two weeks ago. I am very grateful that all went well but I have noticed that my singing voice has suffered substantially. Prior to the surgery, I was a tenor that could sing up to an A with ease but now I am having trouble with any upper range.

The first week was difficult to just swallow so I have not even tried singing until just lately. Has anyone out there had similar experience with this surgery?

Any feedback is appreciated,
Banjo123

 
Old 12-08-2004, 05:53 PM   #2
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LEONDAS HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

I noticed a difficulty in singing in church after my acdf, but didn't give much thought to it. I just thought that the songs had a range that I couldn't handle. But it was a strange sensation at the time even though I'm an amateur at singing. Tom

 
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Old 12-09-2004, 07:48 AM   #3
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dennisgb HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Banjo,

How long has it been since your surgery?

I am a singer also. I sang professionally for many years, now I just run a karaoke/dj show.

I was told this could be a problem prior to surgery. I told my surgeon, that if he messed my voice up, to make me sound like Joe Cocker He remembered this the day of the surgery, and said to me just prior to going under "Joe Cocker" and gave me a thumbs up.

Anyway, my voice was pretty bad for the first few weeks, and I didn't sing. My wife ran my shows for me. After about a month I tried to sing, but after a song could tell that things were still not right. I then started only doing "easy" songs for the next few weeks. My voice felt fine, but when I pressed, it wouldn't repond completely. After a song you could feel it wasn't right.

I think after about 8 weeks my voice came back and was normal.

Hope that helps.

Dennis

 
Old 12-09-2004, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

It has been two weeks since my surgery. I have tried singing just a little and found that my upper range is very limited. I have sung professionally for a number of years and just started working with my familiy's bluegrass group.
I have been concerned that I may not be able to sing that way I used to.
I really appreciate your email. It gives me hope.

thank you,
Dan

 
Old 12-09-2004, 12:50 PM   #5
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dennisgb HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Banjo,

You do know that they move your throat out of the way during the surgery?

It will be aggravated for a while. I sounded like kermit the frog for about a week.

It was hard for me to hit upper range and falsetto. I had trouble also because the hard collar pressed on my throat when I tried to sing.

You will notice it get better in a few weeks.

Don't push it...you could damage your vocal cords.

Dennis

 
Old 12-09-2004, 01:18 PM   #6
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thecraw HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

HI Banjo,

I am definetly not a singer but would love to be !

As Dennis said your vocal cords are moved to the side during surgery. Everyone appears to be different but some form of temporary disruption in the vocal cords is 100% normal.

In fact after about 2 weeks I thought I was the lucky one as I hadnt had any. Then out of the blue I woke up and could hardly talk for 4 days. The swelling seems to stay around for some time. I am 5 weeks post op and my voice now is ok but I do have a feeling of 'something in my throat' at the moment. This again appears totally normal.

Just like we are told to rest our neck and let our bodies heal I would say for you as a singer it would be important to rest your voice.

I should listen to my own advice sometime but rest rest rest, its one of the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Cheers, Paul

 
Old 12-12-2004, 02:06 PM   #7
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TropicalFox HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Banjo...

I had a 4 level ACDF with Corpectomy and donor bone 3/28/03, 20 months ago...

Prior to surgery I had a 3 1/2 octave range singing soprano in my church and at home for my children and grandchildren...

I still can't sing...

Investigating online about my post-op condition, I've come across several studies done on the subject with the end results beng that most patients recover their voices completely by the 15th month, but the recovery peirod is set at 24 months... after that you can assume you won't get it back naturally and medical or surgical interventions will have to be the way to go...

Vocal Cord Paralysis, according to these studies and the data on ACDF's, happens to between 1 and 2 percent of the patients... sometimes it's both sides, most of the time it's one side, and with time the other side will learn to compensate for the paralyzed side... that's why the 24 months is given for the patient to recover...

I have not lost hope for my singing or my faith that it will come back on its own... but I realize that if I don't, I will have several options to remedy it, even if it doesn't give me back my range...

There was a miracle in my life in March of this year... I automatically started singing along with a TV program when I finally realized that I was actually singing!!!

It hasn't happened again since, but I choose to look at this as a gift from God to tell me that it's possible, and not to lose hope...

My foghorn voice was terrible immediately after surgery and it is now much clearer... I can sing a little bit in a very low range but it's very hard to get my voice out... it feels like something is stuck in my throat that won't let the air get past the vocal cords right... my face gets red, and it wears me out just to sing a few lines... but it's major improvement from when I left the hospital!!!

The reality is that even though singing has been a part of my life from the time I was a toddler, an essential part of who I am, I would do it again in a heartbeat because I have recovered completely from my surgery with no pre-op symptoms at all...

I can caress my husband's face and my children & grandchildren's too... something I longed to do but couldn't because I had no feeling in my hands and couldn't even hold my youngest granddaughter unless sitting down and with someone close by to make sure I didn't drop her...

If I never get my voice back, I will sing in my mind and heart, and thank God for the life I still have left...

Hugs and God bless

Sandra

Last edited by TropicalFox; 12-12-2004 at 02:07 PM.

 
Old 12-12-2004, 06:35 PM   #8
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guyzag HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Sometimes in the process of the surgery, the nerves that control your voice can get nicked. I know someone who also had a nerve cut which resulting in a loss of feeling on the left side of her face.

Hopefully this doesn't happen to anyone of our readers. The sore throat is generally a result of the clamps used to distend your esophagus during surgery.

I never lost my voice post surgery, but did have a sore throat like you. Give it some time to heal and and you should be back to tenor form in no time!
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Guyzag

ACDF C5-6/C6-7 in July 2003 fusion/plate

 
Old 12-14-2004, 07:07 PM   #9
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Sam43 HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Thanks to everyone who has posted here on this topic. I am very likely to have a c6-c7 fusion in the near future. I have been a singer-songwriter for 20 years and one of the things that I fear most is having some kind of permanent damage to my vocal cords. The discussion here is helpful.
I would encourage Sandra and Dan to keep us posted on their recoveries. I would guess a multi-level fusion would have a bigger impact and take longer to heal. (Just a guess. I am still learning a lot about this)

 
Old 12-15-2004, 12:04 PM   #10
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dennisgb HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Sandra,

I hope you get your voice back.

I know going in that this was one of my primary concerns, as I love to sing and it's also a second job for me.

I was lucky, as my voice came back to normal in a very short time.

Dennis

 
Old 12-15-2004, 02:24 PM   #11
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banjo123 HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

It has been about three weeks and I have made some improvement. Two weeks after surgery, I could barely screach out a Bb and now I have a solid D above that. Sadly, I used to be able to soar to an A above that.

I used to do a Beatles set singing alot of Paul McCartney and John Lennon in the original keys. Now I sound more like Ringo on a rough day.

I have a follow up appointment with my Neurosurgeon on Jan 3rd. I will ask more then and also see if he might recommend a specialist in this area. A big concern for me is if practicing singing is helpful or not. I am noticing that after singing for a short time my range improves but I do not want to make things worse.

Other than my singing voice (which I pray will come back) my surgery was a great success!

I will send an update later. God Bless you all for your emails.
Dan

 
Old 12-15-2004, 02:55 PM   #12
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Sam43 HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Dan,
I've been doing a little more research (mostly googling) and getting some pretty mixed info. It does seem there are a lot of options out there as far as vocal therapy. I'm inclined to think it is still pretty soon after your operation and it may take a while. I would recommend caution and rest. Glad to hear everything else is going well.

 
Old 12-16-2004, 07:15 AM   #13
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dennisgb HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Banjo,

It sounds to me like your making about the same progress that I did. I wouldn't push the high stuff for a while.

I know it took a while before I could get the resonance back in my singing voice. I could hit the notes, but couldn't get the sound. Vibrato was difficult too.

Just make sure you "feel" what's happening and don't push it. I know I would never have been able to do a full set for a couple of months.

Dennis

 
Old 01-03-2005, 07:29 PM   #14
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banjo123 HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Well, I had my follow up appointment with my neurosurgeon and everything looked great.

I asked him about the reduced range in my singing voice and he recommended waiting another month before seeing a specialist. He said the the operation moves the trachea over which hold the vocal chords. His past patients who had this surgery and were singers recovered in about 2 months.

I am a bit concerned since I still would like to sing in the meantime. My doctor was not clear if this was good or bad. He just said to not push thing s for a while.

My range still tops out at a D with a struggle(used to hit G and A above) and is still weak. In church I can only make it through a verse or two before I can not continue.
I have gotten better at reading bass clef....I'm still praying for a break through.

Dan

 
Old 01-03-2005, 08:12 PM   #15
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rob_zzz HB User
Re: singing after discectomy & fusion

Does anyone know whether plating vs no plating has any impact on the effect on the voice - is one better than the other in relation to getting a singing voice back etc.?

Dan and Dennis - did you have plating or no-plating? Good to hear that your surgeries sound like they were succesful btw - hope the singing voices are back to full form soon.

rob

 
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