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    Old 01-28-2005, 06:38 AM   #1
    wimpette
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    Posterior fusion experience

    Hi all. I'm new at posting although I've been reading these boards - wish I'd found this site two years ago! Several posts have asked about posterior fusion so I thought I'd give my experience to help those facing it.

    Anyway, I had an ACDF that failed to fuse and because of increasing pain and weakness decided to have a posterior fusion (C4-7). I got the opinion of 3 docs before proceeding with the operation.
    It's a much bigger procedure than an acdf with a longer recovery time. I was in hospital less than 24hrs the first time, this time I stayed for three nights and was approved for four. I had a lot more pain after the operation and especially muscle spasms so I needed percocet and valium for four weeks. However the type of pain I had before the op has almost completely gone as has most of the weakness. My surgeon had me wear a hard collar for nine weeks, and then a soft one as needed. I would have probably felt ok going back to a sedentary job at 12 weeks but because of my level of activity have needed 4 mths.
    Although the thought of more surgery really scared me I'm glad I had this done - it has really helped my symptoms. I just hope the results last!

    Hope this helps those of you thinking about posterior fusion.

     
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    Old 01-31-2005, 06:38 AM   #2
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Wimpette: Thanks so much for your info. I am in the same boat as you. Facing Revision surgery due to failed fusion. They are placing 2 rods and pedical screws at C5-7. I have been told that I would be back to work in 2 - 3 weeks. I am having my ortho surgeon do this surgery after a 2nd opinion with Neuro. I have many questions, did they use rods on you, shave your head, how did your hip feel after the bone harvest?? Please write back, I am petrified.

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 06:45 AM   #3
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Wimpette: Thanks so much for your input. I am really interested in any details you can provide, I am having Post. Cervical fusion due to failed ACDF C5-7 in Nov. 03. I am also being told that I will have rods and screws placed and bone off of back of hip implanted also. Can you give me any more details on the procedure you had?? I am planning on being back to work in 3 weeks. Is this a reasonable time for recovery with a computer job?? Do they shave your head at all. Please respond.

    Last edited by Esmo77; 01-31-2005 at 06:50 AM.

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 07:15 AM   #4
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    This site is messing with me this morning. Bump.

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 07:39 AM   #5
    Lyn in Michigan
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Esmo and Wimpette

    I feel bad for both of you that you had to have your surgery redone. Esmo, I know you said that your fusion didn't work. Are you in the "same" pain as before? I have just found out that my fusion didn't work either and I had my surgery 14 months ago and was told after a car accident that my titanium pins and plates were still in place and that they couldn't do anything for me. Now they find out after a cervical myelogram (14 months later) that 5/6 fused and 6/7 didn't. I haven't been to the surgeon yet to find out exactly what he wants to do. On the phone after giving me the results of the myelogram he told me that he wants to use a hip graft (which I have heard is painful for quite a while afterwards) and he is going to put in a "metal" cage at 6/7 only not at 5!!!! He didn't tell me if he wants to go in anterior or posterior. I assumed it would be going into the same scar!!! maybe not!!!! That terrifies me to think that he would want to go in through the back. I am also getting a second opinion from an ortho. doctor.
    Esmo, are you still in the same pain as before your first surgery? Wimpette, I am so glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery.
    Thanks
    Lyn in Michigan

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 10:22 AM   #6
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    Hang in there, it's a petrifying experience going for repeat surgery. I had a failed c5-7 fusion and the repeat surgery was c4-7. I had pedicle screws and rods but although the initial plan was for hip bone he had enough bone from my neck with my bone marrow and BMP so I woke up with no hip pain

    I think three weeks is very optimistic for a return to work based on my personal experience. Is he planning to use a hard collar? I wore one for 8 weeks and found it very limiting in what I could do. I required no pain meds after the first procedure, this time I was on narcotics and valium for a month. However I also needed decompression at a couple of levels which might have increased the amount of pain med I needed. I found I could just about read or look at the computer screen at 4 weeks so don't be depressed if your recovery takes a while. Part of the increased pain is that they have to cut through muscle whereas from the front they just separate it.

    My scar is from just above my hairline (he took a bit but it never showed) right down my neck and is virtually invisible.

    At the moment I feel much better than I've done in ages. Am still taking things very cautiously and am scared of screwing things up. One big plus is an outstanding physical therapist who is helping me get my arm strength back and stopping me from overdoing things.

    I made a lot of enquiries and got lots of opinions before having this operation, all said that the best way of dealing with my failed fusion was going through the back.

    Hope this helps you!

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 10:26 AM   #7
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    Just wrote a long reply which somehow got lost, haven't got time to rewrite it now but will have another go later on when hopefully it goes through!
    W

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 10:28 AM   #8
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    The site keeps losing my reply, shall try later on today, in the meantime hang in there!
    W

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 10:59 AM   #9
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    My earlier attempt to reply got lost in cyberspace so shall try again. My original surgery was acdf C5-7, my fusion failed at both levels and the posterior fusion was C4-7. I found the second procedure took a lot more out of me than the first time and based on my own experience think that 3-4 weeks is unduly optimistic for a return to work especially if you're in a collar. I had to wear a hard collar for 8 weeks, weaned off it over 4 weeks with a soft collar. During the first 4 weeks found I couldn't do much of anything even watching tv or reading - I had this fantasy of catching up on all the reading I haven't had time to do over the past few years, most of the books are still unread!

    Pain wise this also was a lot worse. I required no narcotics after the first procedure, I was on percocet and valium for a good four weeks this time round. It was explained to me that this was because the muscles are cut which increases the pain experienced. It also has meant that rehab is taking longer than first time round. I also had a couple of levels decompressed which might also have added to the pain. Although the plan was to use hip bone he was able to use some of the bone from my neck with my bone marrow so that I woke up without a scar on my hip for which I am extremely thankful.

    My scar is from hairline right down my neck and is barely noticeable. He did cut a small amount of hair at the upper end of the scar but in such a way that is was covered by longer hair and couldn't be seen.

    Can't emphasise how much a good physical therapist helps in recovery both in regaining arm and hand strength and maximising neck movement. He also excellent at slowing me down and preventing me from trying to rush things.

    Hang in there! Make sure you ask your surgeon all questions you might have and feel comfortable with his replies. I personally am very glad to have proceeded with the second operation even though I must say I was very scared pre op.

    Hope this helps,
    Best wishes,
    W

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 11:10 AM   #10
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    My earlier attempt to reply got lost in cyberspace so shall try again. My original surgery was acdf C5-7, my fusion failed at both levels and the posterior fusion was C4-7. I found the second procedure took a lot more out of me than the first time and based on my own experience think that 3-4 weeks is unduly optimistic for a return to work especially if you're in a collar. I had to wear a hard collar for 8 weeks, weaned off it over 4 weeks with a soft collar. During the first 4 weeks found I couldn't do much of anything even watching tv or reading - I had this fantasy of catching up on all the reading I haven't had time to do over the past few years, most of the books are still unread!

    Pain wise this also was a lot worse. I required no narcotics after the first procedure, I was on percocet and valium for a good four weeks this time round. It was explained to me that this was because the muscles are cut which increases the pain experienced. It also has meant that rehab is taking longer than first time round. I also had a couple of levels decompressed which might also have added to the pain. Although the plan was to use hip bone he was able to use some of the bone from my neck with my bone marrow so that I woke up without a scar on my hip for which I am extremely thankful.

    My scar is from hairline right down my neck and is barely noticeable. He did cut a small amount of hair at the upper end of the scar but in such a way that is was covered by longer hair and couldn't be seen.

    Can't emphasise how much a good physical therapist helps in recovery both in regaining arm and hand strength and maximising neck movement. He also excellent at slowing me down and preventing me from trying to rush things.

    Hang in there! Make sure you ask your surgeon all questions you might have and feel comfortable with his replies. I personally am very glad to have proceeded with the second operation even though I must say I was very scared pre op.

    Hope this helps,
    Best wishes,
    W

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 11:20 AM   #11
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Lynn: I found out 8 months post op from C5-7 ACDF that 5-6 did not fuse and was very evident on the x-ray and 6-7 did fuse but the neuro says that they are not straight. Both docs told me that posterior was the way they would fix this problem and the hip bone graft was necessary. This bone graft is NOT like the one they do for ACDF according to the doc's. Just a small amount of bone is scraped off the hip so the healing and pain is not nearly as bad as the iliac crest one. I am just so scared of rods and screws in the back, I guess just afraid of the unknown as we all are. The pain is getting worse and worse due to non-union and the docs said it would progress until it was fixed. Sorry about your accident Lynn. Good Luck.

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 11:22 AM   #12
    wimpette
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Hi Esmo,
    My earlier attempt to reply got lost in cyberspace so shall try again. My original surgery was acdf C5-7, my fusion failed at both levels and the posterior fusion was C4-7. I found the second procedure took a lot more out of me than the first time and based on my own experience think that 3-4 weeks is unduly optimistic for a return to work especially if you're in a collar. I had to wear a hard collar for 8 weeks, weaned off it over 4 weeks with a soft collar. During the first 4 weeks found I couldn't do much of anything even watching tv or reading - I had this fantasy of catching up on all the reading I haven't had time to do over the past few years, most of the books are still unread!

    Pain wise this also was a lot worse. I required no narcotics after the first procedure, I was on percocet and valium for a good four weeks this time round. It was explained to me that this was because the muscles are cut which increases the pain experienced. It also has meant that rehab is taking longer than first time round. I also had a couple of levels decompressed which might also have added to the pain. Although the plan was to use hip bone he was able to use some of the bone from my neck with my bone marrow so that I woke up without a scar on my hip for which I am extremely thankful.

    My scar is from hairline right down my neck and is barely noticeable. He did cut a small amount of hair at the upper end of the scar but in such a way that is was covered by longer hair and couldn't be seen.

    Can't emphasise how much a good physical therapist helps in recovery both in regaining arm and hand strength and maximising neck movement. He also excellent at slowing me down and preventing me from trying to rush things.

    Hang in there! Make sure you ask your surgeon all questions you might have and feel comfortable with his replies. I personally am very glad to have proceeded with the second operation even though I must say I was very scared pre op.

    Hope this helps,
    Best wishes,
    W

     
    Old 01-31-2005, 11:37 AM   #13
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Lynn: My pain is worse than ever due to non-union of C5-6. They say 6-7 fused but not absolutely straight. The 2nd surgery is done posteriorly due to scar tissue if I understand correctly. The bone graft from the rear of the hip is not near as bad as the iliac crest graft that is done during ACDF and done from the front. I am just a little scared due to the unknown of another procedure. Sorry about your wreck, I look in the rear view all the time afraid of the same fate. Take care. ( I hope this does not post twice. I am having a time with my computer today)

     
    Old 02-02-2005, 05:17 AM   #14
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Pain is much worse than before 1st surgery due to non-union, I assume. I am having an ortho spine specialist do the 2nd surgery (same doc as 1st). I am having 2 rods and 6 screws posterior and bone from rear of hip harvested for fusion. I am pretty worried about the whole scenario since I had a brain hemorrhage during the first one. They called it a "fluke". Wimpette says that the recovery was much worse than the first and I am worried also about returning to work in a reasonable amount of time.

     
    Old 02-02-2005, 05:31 AM   #15
    Esmo77
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    Re: Posterior fusion experience

    Wimpette: We have encountered a hardware failure (message board, thank goodness). I have been trying to post to you for a couple of days now. Hope this works. Thanks so much for your input, it DOES make a difference in my level of anxiety at this point. I wish the doctors would give you a couple of people to call and ask questions that have had the same operation. Of course, that is a NO NO. I cannot see an option for me at this point, same as you, pain and weakness is getting the best of my quality of life. I am 38 and in fairly good health except the neck bones. I thank you again for your input. Hope your pain stays at bay and you continue to recover.

     
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