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Old 05-14-2009, 04:31 PM   #1
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posterior cervical fusion

Hello, I'm new here and am looking for some information on this surgery which is stage one of my surgery. they are going to be fusing C3 thru T1 posterior and then fuse C3-4, C4-5, C7-T1 anterior. then do a revision on C6-7. did not fuse from a prior surgery in 2003. I'm very nervous and have been told that the posterior is a very painful long recovery. could someone tell me their expieriences with this so that I'm totally prepared? I would be grateful for any information.

GAA

 
Old 05-22-2009, 10:39 PM   #2
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

I only had an anterior fusion, but went in with the possibility of an anterior and posterior fusion. The posterior part cuts through the muscles, so there is more post op pain; recovery is slower because the muscles get weaker. However, the front and back fusion is more stable--so the end result is probably worth it.

My Dr knew I lived on my own, and he felt that I would be able to manage even if I had the larger surgery. Take your medications, prepare your home (see the list of surgery prep), --depending on your pre-op symptoms, it may not be as bad as you think.

Prepare for the worst, Hope for the best. There are a number of people here with extensive surgeries who have done quite well.

Good luck.

 
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Old 05-23-2009, 02:27 PM   #3
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

GAA - I have read several posts from different members that have had this type of surgery. If you can give them time, I am certain that some of them will find your post and give you some great information. If you can't stand to wait then I'm guessing that you can do an advanced search and use the words posterior approach and start from there. Once you identify the username then you can do an advanced search using their name. I hope that works for you and helps get you some info.

I too only had an anterior approach. I'm six weeks post ACDF C5 - C7. I am extremely happy with my surgery and come close to thinking my neurosurgeon is a miracle worker! I wish you the best with your surgery. Once I met my surgeon I knew I could trust him and actually I just left it all in his hands. He explained everything so well and told me all the possibilities that I felt well prepared. I knew I didn't want to live with all the pain, numbness and muscle spasms, nor did I want to live forever on pain meds and muscle relaxers for the rest of my life and I didn't want the numbness to become permanent if I could help it. So having making the decision to have surgery when the surgeon said that was the only thing that would fix it was easy. There were a bunch of people plus myself praying over that surgery and for the surgeon. I consider it a true blessing to have obtained the results that I have because there are those who for some reason don't get that relief.

I'm guessing that it's probably not a choice for you to have the surgery it's a matter of necessity to ensure that your spine is stabilized. I have read what Lynnetter wrote and have seen others say that the posterior approach is more painful, but that the end result of added stability is a positive outcome. There have been quite a few with posts and I know they will be there for you when you have questions and just plain need some encouragement. Actually, it seems like everybody here is fantastic at giving morale support!

Best wishes and keep us informed. When is your surgery? (If you want to share.)

Stonepile

 
Old 05-23-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

I'll catch up more with you later - I had posterior. It is a longer recovery but at least at the time I made the right decision I think. (That said, I was back to work in less than two weeks, but didn't drive for about 8-10) I've seen a few people have both done, you might want to search old posts (i've been around here for 4 years now (unfortunately)). Sorry to be brief now but I'll get back. BTW - are you in a major city. I had my first surgery in a small hospital - doctor was great but the staff wasn't familiar with the procedure so if I need surgery again I would only go to a major center.

 
Old 05-23-2009, 04:38 PM   #5
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Hi. I am posterior C3 to T1 as well but no anterior as I nothing before that. Yes, it is more painful although I wouldn't know as I had 2 posterior surgeries and no anterior so I can't compare.

Since you are going as high as I did they will shave the back of your head and the scar will go up above the skull line. Worst part...they taped the rest of my hair out of the way and then removed it several days after surgery. OUCH! I'm getting a really short haircut next time.

The cut muscles do make the recovery longer as muscle cells heal slowly but not as slowly as nerve cells. Makes for some interesting sensations while you heal...zaps, stings, pulling, burning...it's all normal. They will give you both pain meds and muscle relaxers and the muscle relaxers do more than the pain meds. Once your staples are out, take long hot showers...feels so good on the scar and muscles. If you have someone to massage your neck, do so. And rub Vitamin A into the scar to soften and heal it(you just buy a bottle of the gel cap type and ***** it with a pin and squish it out). I got a shower stool to sit in the shower.

You'll be in a hard collar for a while...I was 7 weeks in the hard and 5 weeks in the soft. Tough to get used to and I was very bad and took it off occasionally when I was lying down and kept my neck still(just to scratch and in the shower)but you will get used to it and when it's time to go to the soft, you'll actually miss the hard one. Now your muscles have to work and they haven't done so for a while. I was supposed to wear the collar in the shower but I had no help during the week and I found the extra set of linings just didn't dry in between showers so I was very bad!!!!! But I healed just fine. Luckily, I was wearing it the night I lost my balance and fell backwards in the kitchen and hit my head on the fridge. Nothing moved.

My biggest beef was the PT. And that was my insurance. They restricted me to 20 sessions A YEAR. I needed more as I was partially paralyzed after surgery(before too...long story). But I found my shoulder muscles got VERY sore from lack of movement. Just as I was finishing PT, I discovered the amazing pain relief of electric stimulation of the neck muscles. It worked those muscles, making them tired and relieving the spasms and pain. Wanted to buy one of those things! But once I was healed I found that working out with the bands really helped the muscle pain.

I go to the neurosurgeon on June 3rd to see if I need to have my fusion extended to C2 as it seems I've herniated the disk between C2-3. But I've also got rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis I can feel the arthritis in C1 as I turn my head. It's gone from click, click, click, to clunk. So I'm not sure what he'll do. I could end up with a separate C1-2 fusion or the whole thing fused. I have no idea. He's doing the MRI at the hospital before seeing me so he can order extra shots as he sees the pictures come up. One of the benefits of having a hospital all computerized. He's watching the MRI as it happens.

Gaa...when is your surgery? I saw your post when you first posted but was sick at the time so I didn't respond. Sorry. My doc told me with my first posterior that the preferred pain med was Dilauded. I didn't know why but took it. Then I asked for something different with the second one(the fusion) as I had broken out with a rash the last time I took it. So they used morphine. Now I know why Dilaudid is preferred....it doesn't cause muscle spasms as a side effect. Dilauded is a short acting drug but after ending up in the ER with horrible spasms, I'll go back to Dilauded for #3(the rash turned out to be from something else). Any idea what your doc will use? It's just a suggestion. Many people don't like the weird dreams they get on the stuff and have trouble sleeping.

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to post or PM me.

good luck............Jenny

 
Old 05-24-2009, 03:33 PM   #6
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Posterior cervical surgery is indeed more painful than anterior. My ACDF was virtually pain free (from a surgical pain perspective). But when they go through the back they have to cut through muscle (which they don't do when going through the front), thus the increased pain level.

Has your doctor discussed what can be done to enhance fusion? I had a bone growth stimulator I wore around my neck to aid in fusion and also avoided NSAIDs (Asprin, Aleve/Naproxin, Advil/Ibuprofen) for 6 months as well.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 05-28-2009, 10:10 PM   #7
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Well, I've had both surgeries - ACDF in 2005 and just this March, 2009 I had posterior bone fusion C3-C7. (Laminoplasty). The posterior is much more painful and the recovery time is longer too. But I was told ahead of time that it would be more painful so I was expecting the pain. I'm now 9 weeks post op and I see my neurosurgeon June 2nd. I've had the required x-rays so that he can see if I'm healing like I think I am

The first three weeks were the worst - then by the fourth week I could finally see some relief. I wore the hard collar for about 1 month and then switched to the soft collar. He told me that I would need PT, but I think when he sees me, he will tell me that I did my own PT! I'm pretty active and once I started feeling better I was doing my normal walks again (2 miles). I have pretty normal movement in my neck and back. My surgery was done to prevent paralysis - with the hope that my balance would become better and that my shoulder pain would lessen. So far the balance is still a problem, but the shoulder pain seems much better.

I'm hoping that the doctor will give me the ok to start swimming after the June appt. I want to continue to use my muscles and swimming is excellent therapy.

I think you will be fine. I'm 65 years 'young' and still moving

 
Old 05-29-2009, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Isn't that laminoplasty a cool surgery? Fixes everything with no fusion. I had one as well from C3 to C7. Unfortunately, I had complications and ripped all the ligaments in my neck 3 months after wards and had to be fused from C3 to T1. I was told it was an "unheard" of complication and had to do with my anatomy so don't worry!

Glad you are doing well and keep on truckin'.

gentle hugs..........Jenny

 
Old 02-25-2011, 12:20 PM   #9
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Hello, Jenny I am fused from c3 c7, think that I recently injured c7 T1 are aggrevated a problem I already had. I now have atrophy at c7 and disk bulge at c7 t1. How do you feel now that c7 t1 one are fused. Is there a huge ROM issue?

I see the NS on Monday

Michael

 
Old 02-25-2011, 01:48 PM   #10
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

I don't see any ROM problems at the low end of the fusion, only the top part with the head movement. My doc is watching T2 now and fears he'll have to go lower as I have problems there as well as at the top part too. Once fusion is done, it puts you at great risk of problems on either side and it just goes on and on. My doc jokes that sooner or later, he'll end up fusing my entire spine...not so funny from my point of view but I think it was his way of warning me of what the future holds.

If they have to add T1, I don't see any major problems with it.

hugs.............Jenny

 
Old 02-27-2011, 01:08 PM   #11
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

One of the things I hated with my posterior surgery was that my doctor made me wear the hard collar for 2 weeks (until my staples came out) without taking it off for ANYthing except to change the pads. I had to shower with the collar on, and then could only take it off when it was wet to change the pads and put it back on. Wearing a wet cervical collar is one of the worst things. After two weeks, I could take it off to shower, but had to wear it the rest of hte day and night for 6 more weeks. I got so used to it after about 4 weeks that I almost forgot I had it on. It's crazy how that happens.

I did have a very hard time getting up/out of bed and back into bed after my posterior. I did not have that problem after my anterior surgery. I needed someone to help me up from a sitting or laying position for about 2 weeks.

 
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:09 AM   #12
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Has anyone fully recovered from a C2-T1 posterior fusion? I had my 4 weeks ago and still in a lot of pain, very weak, and hard time sleeping. My surgery was due to an auto accident where I was rear ended. I tried the conservative approach of physical therapy and epidural injections, but all failed. I was told that I had severe cervical instability. I have been in constant pain since the auto accident. My numbness and loss of strength in my arms has been improved due to surgery.

I was told by my surgeon that I would be in a hard collar for 12 weeks and physical therapy won't start until 6 mos post surgery. To make it more complicated I also had an anterior approach to repair an old fusion at C5-C7, and a C2 disectomy. I am on long term disability from my former employer and am encouraged to apply for SSDI. I have had my staples removed and have the surgical steri-strips on the posterior incision. My anterior incision is completely healed.

When I had my first anterior cervical fusion of C5-C7 with plate/screw the recovery was short and the outcome was excellent. Of course, I was 15 years younger than I am now.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom? I want to know what my final outcome will be.

Thanks..

 
Old 12-17-2011, 10:45 AM   #13
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

You are early on in the recovery. Be sure to take all prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants on schedule. As for your LTD, the SSDI application will be mandatory, not just encouraged. LTD is reduced by what you receive from SSDI so they'll require SSDI application. Often they will provide an attorney to help with initial application and all levels of appeal. (I used to work in the disability insurance industry and am now on LTD and in pursuit of SSDI at the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing level.) Most LTD plans credit you for SS attorney fees so in the end no cost to you. Be sure to get a copy of the exact LTD policy/plan under which you are covered so you can see how SSDI is handled and all other LTD provisions as well.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 12-17-2011, 05:34 PM   #14
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Re: posterior cervical fusion

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpineAZ View Post
You are early on in the recovery. Be sure to take all prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants on schedule. As for your LTD, the SSDI application will be mandatory, not just encouraged. LTD is reduced by what you receive from SSDI so they'll require SSDI application. Often they will provide an attorney to help with initial application and all levels of appeal. (I used to work in the disability insurance industry and am now on LTD and in pursuit of SSDI at the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing level.) Most LTD plans credit you for SS attorney fees so in the end no cost to you. Be sure to get a copy of the exact LTD policy/plan under which you are covered so you can see how SSDI is handled and all other LTD provisions as well.
Thank you for providing the information. You are exactly right regarding the SSDI. They have provided an attorney and I am in the initial stages. I will definitely make sure that I do get a copy of the exact LTD policy/plan.

Thanks again.

 
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