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View Full Version : Smoking and Anterior Discectomy & Fusion


EagleClaw
07-03-2017, 01:36 AM
I hardly ever post....so I saw there were threads about this from around 2005 that were closed. I went for a surgical consult on 5/15/17 & met this surgeon for the 1st time. I had an MRI of my neck & back b4 I saw him.

I went in & he showed me the MRI of my neck & told me I had to check into the hospital where I was having the consult right away & he would operate on me the next morning. I did what he said & had the kind where they do the incision in the front & move your throat out of the way and then take a piece of your hip to put in and then put the metal piece in that attaches to two discs & has 3 screws on each end to keep things in place.

I had lost the ability to button shirts and tie shoes a couple years before this because my hands just stopped working right. So I got Velcro shoes, pull over shirts, & pants with an elastic waistband. Then for a few months b4 I saw the surgeon I started feeling pain or numbness in my hands.

I had good health insurance for most of my life, but for the last 10 years I had to rely on Medicaid & it was difficult to see specialists. Anyway - the doctor said I had to quit smoking that day and for at least the next 6 months for the surgery to work right.....I think he meant for the fusion to work right. I had been a heavy smoker for 43 years prior to that day. But I said I would quit. I asked him about nic patches & he said that that wasn't good either.

But he did order the 21 mg. nic patches for me & I was in the hospital for a month. 3 weeks of that was waiting to get into a rehab center where they helped people that couldn't walk without aid anymore which included me bigtime. The rehab was great because u saw a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist (who would see if u could swallow OK because u can't right after the operation & u have to eat pureed food for a bit).

You would also see a vascular surgeon (I have other health issues besides the one here). Medicaid paid for a week there for me. I was also getting the patches there & when I left they gave me a couple of weeks worth. But when I got back home I had 5 packs of cigarettes there. It was much easier to not smoke when I was in the hospitals because u just couldn't smoke there. So I had a 5 week head start of not smoking.

The bottom line is that I couldn't stay off the cigs, although I have cut down drastically. I am so stressed out over that and another negative change that is soon to happen in my life.

ANYBODY ELSE STILL SWMOKE A BIT AFTER THIS TYPE OF OPERATION....AND HOW DID THINGS TURN OUT FOR YOU. I KNOW IT IS CRAZY FOR ME TO SMOKE AT ALL....BUT I JUST HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO QUIT ALTOGETHER.

AGAIN - I WOULD APPRECIATE IT TO HEAR FROM ANYBODY THAT HAS HAD THIS SAME DILEMMA. THANKS.

teteri66
07-03-2017, 07:52 AM
Welcome to the board. How many weeks has it been since your surgery?

It really won't matter to your particular situation whether another person did or did not heal properly from ACDF due to smoking. Each case is different and there are other reasons why a person does not fuse properly. What we do know from research is that smoking and particularly, cigarette smoking inhibits bone growth. Fusion failures are up to 50% higher among smokers. Increasingly spine surgeons will not operate on a person who smokes...except in an emergency where the patient's life would be compromised by postponing surgery.

Smoking disrupts the normal function of basic body systems that contribute to bone formation and growth. In particular, nicotine decreases the blood flow to the graft, which prevents it from getting adequate nutrients to flourish and grow properly. It has also recently been discovered that nicotine may have anti-inflammatory effects, which also interfere with fusion healing.

There are more reasons to quit than just the fear of non-fusion. Smoking accelerates the rate of disc degeneration. Since fusion puts additional stress on adjoining discs, smoking can additionally contribute to degeneration.

If you cannot quit, try to smoke as little as possible. Any reduction should help a little bit!

Have you had any post-operative X-rays taken to see if the fusion process has started?

Try not to stress out over this. It is important to have a positive outlook!

Good luck to you.

EagleClaw
07-07-2017, 03:06 PM
Welcome to the board. How many weeks has it been since your surgery?

It really won't matter to your particular situation whether another person did or did not heal properly from ACDF due to smoking. Each case is different and there are other reasons why a person does not fuse properly. What we do know from research is that smoking and particularly, cigarette smoking inhibits bone growth. Fusion failures are up to 50% higher among smokers. Increasingly spine surgeons will not operate on a person who smokes...except in an emergency where the patient's life would be compromised by postponing surgery.

Smoking disrupts the normal function of basic body systems that contribute to bone formation and growth. In particular, nicotine decreases the blood flow to the graft, which prevents it from getting adequate nutrients to flourish and grow properly. It has also recently been discovered that nicotine may have anti-inflammatory effects, which also interfere with fusion healing.

There are more reasons to quit than just the fear of non-fusion. Smoking accelerates the rate of disc degeneration. Since fusion puts additional stress on adjoining discs, smoking can additionally contribute to degeneration.

If you cannot quit, try to smoke as little as possible. Any reduction should help a little bit!

Have you had any post-operative X-rays taken to see if the fusion process has started?

Try not to stress out over this. It is important to have a positive outlook!

Good luck to you.


Thanks for your reply. Every time I've tried to reply - b4 I'm done - my reply disappears right b4 I'm finished. Can't try again right now. My surgery was 5/16/17.