Re: Removing ACDF hardware for a second fusion? Ack!
I'm not sure how common it is to remove hardware in the cervical area but it is done all the time in the lumbar area. If the person is actually fused, it makes no difference.
I was fused at L4-L5. At the time, several surgeons told me I needed a 3 level surgery, but even more surgeons told me I required a one level surgery. I decided to go for the one level, but it never resolved my pain, so two years later I had surgery to fuse from L3- S1.
The surgeon's plan was to leave the original hardware, but when he got in there, he discovered the screws were not compatible...so he removed the hardware (which I now keep on my desk -- looks just like it came from Ace Hardware store) then inserted new pedicle screws and longer rods.
The point of hardware is to stabilize the area while it heals...since it can't be put in a cast the way you'd treat a broken leg or arm. It is not intended to hold the spine together forever. It is usually left in because there is no point in putting the patient under the stress of another anesthesia to remove it...but it serves no purpose after the bone has set up.
In your case, the surgeon will remove the hardware and just put in hardware at the new level. That should work out just fine as the segments above it are now a solid chunk of bone and won't be moving anywhere.