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  • Help! I have been diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy and Scared to have Surgery

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    Old 03-30-2008, 09:38 PM   #1
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    Help! I have been diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy and Scared to have Surgery

    I am new to this board but from the posts I have read they are very knowledgeable. I have been diagnosed with cervical myelopathy and clonus. I have severe cord flattening frm c4 - 7. The ns wants to operate but I am so afraid. The ns that I have seen was trained at Emory University in Atlanta. My concern is that he says that 3 levels is not the norm and it will be a major surgery but that if I do not have the surgery I will be paralyzed. My concern is death, not being able to swallow from anterior surgery and having more pain and problems than I do right now. I know ya'll have been through so much so if you could give me some advice that people do survive 3 levels.
    Thanks,,,,, Becky

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    Old 03-31-2008, 10:13 AM   #2
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    Re: Help! I have been diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy and Scared to have Surgery

    Hi Becky, Welcome to the board. I want to first say that I have no medical training, I am only giving you my experience and opinion.

    I had a 3 level anterior fusion at c-4-7 eight years ago. It was the best decision for me. I was imediately out of most of my unbearable pain. The surgery is a major one (it took 3 hours). I was in the hospital 3 days. I was able to be up and doing minor things within a week. After 4 or 5 weeks I was able to lead pretty normal life. Iwas in my early 40s and in good health so I am sure that helped. ALso, I had no problems with swallowing.

    I cannot say that your experience will be the same. I still have some issues with my neck. In fact I am scheduled for another surgery in 4 weeks. But the 8 years of mostly pain free living was to me worth it.

    God Bless you in your decision. Surgery is a major life event. Weigh all options and try everything else first. Good luck and welcome to the board!

    Last edited by murphmom; 03-31-2008 at 10:14 AM.

    Old 03-31-2008, 01:14 PM   #3
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    Re: Help! I have been diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy and Scared to have Surgery

    Hello and welcome. We are all patients and each of us have gone through the same questioning and sometimes fear that you are feeling. If you have never had any surgery before - then you might be more afraid than others. The best thing I personally found to do was to get really educated about the spine and my particular problems. The next thing is to fully research the doctor and get at least one other opinion. Find a doctor that is not related (in same practice or organization). It is an absolute must for me that the doctor is board certified in that specialty and has loads of experience doing the particular type of spine surgery being suggested. These are questions you are free to ask the doctor about, and if your doctor isn't willing to answer these type questions - seriously consider another doctor.

    Reading other patient experiences can help but it can also be a bit scary, keep in mind everyone is an individual and how you respond will be unique to you.

    Is it an ACDF that the surgeon is recommending? If so this is a very common surgery that has been done for years. That doesn't mean some people do not have complications, but in general the complication rate is low compared to the number of surgeries. Your doctor will best know your situation.

    What you posted here would prompt me to proceed quickly, get the opinions and pursue the corrective path they are suggesting. If I had severe cord flatening, especially at multiple levels - and I was exhibing clonus I would be putting my fear in check and working to get my spinal cord protected.

    I had a 3-level fusion and from the perspective of the surgery itself I wasn't that bad for example as my hyterectomy. Minor swallowing problems for about 10 days, and less pain than prior to surgery - but I still have pain. You may be left with some symptoms that may resolve over time or may not. The goal of this type surgery is really to protect you from worse things happening. Fusion sounds horrible - but to tell you the truth on a day to day basis I don't really notice a difference in range of motion etc.. There is a recouperative period and restrictions and as you move through the process this board can be a great help with lots of friends offering good advice.

    Good luck - I'll be watching for you.

    Old 03-31-2008, 10:14 PM   #4
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    Re: Help! I have been diagnosed with Cervical Myelopathy and Scared to have Surgery

    If it helps I found the ACDF a relatively easy surgery in terms of post-op pain. Experiences do vary but I didn't have any true swallowing problems. I had a sore throat for 2-3 days and after that it didn't bother me at all. I've seem many people mention a 3 level fusion and although it may not be the most common - it doesn't seem to be all that rare.
    Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

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