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  • Results of multi-level acdf?

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    Old 05-06-2003, 09:02 AM   #1
    falcop
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    Question Results of multi-level acdf?

    Hello folks,

    I've never posted here before but a quick look through the board suggests that some of you may be able to help me with a question.

    I have 4 herniated discs and severe cervical spondylosis from C3 to C7. I have radiculopathy in all the nerves in my arms and hands and lately have been told that I have "progressive neurological deficit" which my doctors say causes "the risk of a permanent
    disability is significant without surgical intervention".

    So I am considering surgery. All I know at this point is that the surgeon wants to do a fusion, probably 4 levels. A prominent surgeon told me two years ago that I had too much wrong for surgery. This one - the pre-eminent neurosurgeon in my area - says that I would only do this surgery as a last resort, which is where they seem to be telling me I am!

    I am looking for feedback from anyone who has had this extensive a cervical fusion. How has recovery been? Did you get back the use of your hands? What did you lose in the process, i.e., how stiff is your neck and how much range of motion did you lose. Most of all, was it worth it?

    Thank you very much everyone
    Sincerely,
    Methos

     
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    Old 05-07-2003, 02:51 PM   #2
    Catherine with a C
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    Metho's,
    I wanted to welcome you to the boards!
    Although I cannot assist you with any wise words; I had only 1 level done; I think you may learn alot from the people here.
    Stay strong.
    with a warm smile, again welcome.
    Catherine

     
    Old 05-07-2003, 04:25 PM   #3
    falcop
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    Thanks Catherine,

    Thanks so much for the warm welcome.

    I gather by the relative lack of response that there haven't been a lot of these on this board.

    And how have you fared after your 1-level? Are you happy you had it done? Did you feel you had a choice? Do you have any complaints about it afterwards?

    Thanks
    Methos

     
    Old 05-07-2003, 06:51 PM   #4
    Catherine with a C
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    Methos,
    Well, to be honest, I have been on the boards for a few months now, & no, I have not yet met anyone with your situation. There are a few sages though who have had 2 or 3 levels, & if you are patient (no pun intended) I am sure someone will be along soon.
    I am faring somewhat.......that is a pretty loaded question for me right now. I have been better, I have been worse, therefore, I am okay!!
    I will mention to you though, for what it is worth....
    In 1985, I had 4 levels done to the lower lumbar region. Complete Success!! A miracle actually! I was told there was a great chance I would be paralyzed.
    So.......fast forward many moons later...
    I have no regrets about my recent surgery (April 2nd) only impatience!!! And this too shall pass!!
    Again, welcome!! I do so hope you find the support
    & friendship(s) that I have found on this forum.
    Smile, & know that you are indeed not alone.
    Until later, Catherine

     
    Old 05-07-2003, 06:51 PM   #5
    Debbie2
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    Methos,
    I too had one level done, but if you have a really prominent surgeon you have no choice but to trust his opinion. You never want to run the risk of damage. Also, it wouldn't hurt to get a second open, again, by a good neuro with a good referral or reputation.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
    Debbie

    ------------------
    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.
    __________________
    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.

     
    Old 05-07-2003, 07:14 PM   #6
    IonMan
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    Location: NW Vermont
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    Methos,

    Firstly, let me introduce myself & welcome you to this great place. We are sort of like the penny bank on the counter of the store, need a little help today, give a little help tomorrow. These folks are great when you are a little down & blue, or if you have questions. So, IMHO you have found the right spot if you need some support & information from folks who have been thru or are going thru situations similar to yours.

    Don’t let the lack of responses so soon discourage you, give it a few days. We have lots of folks here and most of us have our good days & bad days, so give it a little time for some to get around to posting. Also, its that time of year where everyone is busy.

    I only had one level worked on myself. But basically it seems that you have the same decision I did; Wait and have the possibility of loss of control of bodily functions &/or paralysis at any time or the surgery. I would like to council you, but as I said I had only one level, so I can’t speak with any experience behind my words. Also I am sure you have more risk than I did. What I can say with conviction is to advise you to research & learn as much as you can so you can understand as much as you can about you condition & the proposed surgery.

    I hope this bit of rambling helps, if not I can only blame the da&m Perks. (I broke down & took a couple today, Guess that’s why the doc gave me the script.)

    Cheers & Welcome
    Cliff


    ------------------
    Cervical myelopathy with frank cord compression from bony impingement.
    22 Apr 03 C5 corpectomy, a C4/6 strut graft with allograft bone, titanium plate

    [This message has been edited by IonMan (edited 05-07-2003).]
    __________________
    Apr 03 C5 corpectomy C4-C6 strut graft with titanium
    May 03 Heart Attack, Balloon Angioplasty & Stent implanted
    Apr 2010 sched for ACDF and laminectomy & stabilize C3 (maybe C2) to C7

     
    Old 05-07-2003, 07:32 PM   #7
    jdog
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    I've had 2 levels done, so you're moving up the food chain. Mine was pretty extensive. I've got titanium plates now. I do experience some dull aches in my arms and between my shoulder blades, but I guess that beats being in a car accident and becoming a quadraplegic.

    I really think you need to gather all of your information and get a current second opinion on your condition. I'm hoping that others come along to give you their experiences soon.

    jdog
    __________________
    L3/4 Lam. 2/2001
    ACDF C5/6/7 8/2002
    L4/L5 Herniated 1/2003

     
    Old 05-08-2003, 05:07 AM   #8
    Memer
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    Methos,

    I, like jdog, only had 2 levels done and also have a plate and screws with donor bone. I would tell anyone, because of what I've been through, not to have this surgery UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. It sounds like you need the surgery.

    Many people fly right through this surgery with very few problems, if any at all. I think I'm one of the few who are still worse off than before surgery. By that, I mean more pain than prior to surgery. I am feeling better than last week, though. And, thank God, I can move and use everything on my body.

    I was told that I could be paralyzed from the neck down with a car accident or fall because of the cord compression if I didn't have the surgery. That made my decision for me. I'm in excellent shape now compared to that. I would have the surgery again given the same circumstances.

    I agree with Cliff, that you should look into the surgery as much as possible and get all the info you can. Get all the NS opinions you can. My insurance allowed 2, and they agreed.

    I hesitated to respond to your questions because I've had a pretty rough time and I don't want to scare anybody who must go through this surgery. After some thought, I realized that before (and even after) my surgery I was looking for answers about everything, and I think I would have handled the postop period better if I had known what could lie ahead. I want to emphasize that I can move everything. All that has been wrong is more pain, but that is improving at this point. With the PT I'm about to begin and the Neurontin the NS just started me on, I'm confident that I'll be way better very soon.

    I look at the whole thing this way: I would rather be in more pain after surgery for a while than have someone change my diaper and feed me for the rest of my life, which could have happened without surgery.

    Like I said, I hesitated to answer your questions. I hope I haven't scared you. I have had problems with my neck and arm for a long time, so I think the reason I'm in more pain is that it just takes time to heal.

    [This message has been edited by Memer (edited 08-04-2003).]

     
    Old 05-08-2003, 10:06 PM   #9
    V-Neck
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    Hi Methos,

    I had a similar problem, 4 ruptured disks, C3-7. I had problems with my arms and shoulders. The pain in both arms and shoulders were not too bad. I had some numbness and itching feelings on both pinky fingers and the area close to them. I also had some twitching on both pinky fingers and both arms and shoulders. I did not have apparent weakness, but my right arm triceps were visibly smaller than my left, even though I am right handed. For a detailed chronological list of my symptoms, find my post titled “One month post operation report - Long” on page 2 at the time of this posting.

    I had a 3 level ACDF onC4-7 on 3/27/03. My surgeon was a little puzzled as to how many levels to do since my problem was so extensive. He consulted other doctors and decided to do 3 levels, as no one had done 4 level operation at his department. He suggested that he would do a posterior surgery for C3-C4 level, after I heal. My worst levels were C5-C6 and C6-C7.

    I thought about the surgery long and hard. It was a difficult decision because my pain was not as bad as some of fellow sufferers here. But the fear that I may be paralyzed in case of a car accident was the determining factor. Also, I wanted to go back to my regular activities even if they would be curtailed somewhat. Before the surgery, I had stopped all risky physical activities and I was very bored. I asked my surgeon if he would have the surgery if he was in my shoes, and he said he would. I should take his answer with a grain of salt, I think, since he must have been asked this question many times before and he may have developed an automatic response. One additional factor that helped me decide was that the pain I experienced seemed increase over time.

    I do not yet know if I made the right decision. I am about 6 weeks post surgery now. My right shoulder/arm/ pinky symptoms seem to have diminished drastically. My left shoulder/arm/pinky symptoms started to show up more frequently but the pain seems to be less. I still get occasional twitching on both sides. I have new pain in the base of my neck. It shows up towards the afternoon of an active day, or after about 50 minutes of fast walking. Also, I have another pain on the side of my neck, extending behind my left ear, but maybe this one is due to the strain I put on my neck trying to keep it immobile. I am wearing a soft collar all the time.

    I am sorry that I cannot answer all your questions about loss of range of motion, etc. yet as it is too soon for me. I can tell you though the recovery seems a little tougher than I had expected. I had read the postings on this board before the surgery and had the impression at the time that the recovery would be smoother. It surprised me when I would feel better and better for a few days and then not so good for the following few days. Maybe it is just that I am getting a little impatient with the speed of my recovery. It is possible that in a few months time I will look back and think that it was not so bad after all. I am planning on reporting the progress of my recovery periodically.

    I noticed you are from the bay area as well. My experience at Stanford Hospital was good, though I do not have any other experience with other hospitals to compare.

    Good luck with your decision


    ------------------
    V-Neck
    ADCF C4-7 with titanium plate, using donor bone
    3/27/03
    __________________
    V-Neck
    ACDF C4-7 with titanium plate, using donor bone
    3/27/03

     
    Old 05-12-2003, 08:55 PM   #10
    winged phantom
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    Hi Methos,
    I've had the three level surgery: ACDF C4-7 with instrumentation and donor bone on 4/9, so I'm almost 5 weeks post-op. I feel pretty good; had my x-rays today, and you're the first to know here that I've been officially screwed: count em- 6 I think! Actually, I have to pick the films and report up later this week, and I only got a real quick glimpse at it today: a shock to see!

    My saga started in 1989 with whiplash with a lousy horseback jumping style, and I had radiculopathy down my right arm and into all my fingers (when I leaned forward, primarily) and other galloping aches and pains. Then I had a c5-6 microdiskectomy without fusion- probably a mistake to not have the fusion, as I now realize, even though I adored my NS. Anyway, I reinjured myself a few times, slipping off curbs or steps and "jamming" my spine, you know. And I developed what my PCP decided to call fibromyalgia, but that may have been a misdiagnosis. Whatever, I was always very stiff and sore and any exertion really exhausted me.

    This past September the pain got worse: I felt I had been hit over the neck and shoulder with a 4x8 and was lugging concrete blocks around. Basically between this and another problem or two, I feel I just finally gound to a halt in my ability to tolerate any more pain or to continue on that way. I've had three surgeries since the first of the year, two of them major surgeries, and I'm pleased to announce I'm still kickin'.

    It's too early to say whether the surgery was a real success, but at least I don't feel that heavy pain any more, and for now I'm much better than before surgery. But next week I go for my 6 week follow up, and time will tell. I'm still in a soft collar around the house; hard collar when I go out; and no collar for sleeping, unless I'm sitting up when I sleep (like just after surgery for about 2 weeks; then I wore the hard collar).

    Welcome to the board... read a lot and do searches for specific terms. There is also a Back board for lumbar problems, but you may also get some info there, too. Lots of us have trouble in both spots!
    wr

    ------------------
    • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
    • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone
    __________________
    • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
    • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone

     
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