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Hi, i am a 42 year old female, and am having ACDF surgery in one month., needless to say i am scared to dealth. The only person i have spoke to about the surgery is a women in a waiting room, who was having to face the decision to have her third ACDF surgery, the first two not taking., so my choice for talking to someone to calm my nerves didn't help.

I am curious i saw two different neurosurgeons and while both said i needed the surgery, they both do it totally different, one uses your own hip bone, and one uses cadaveer bone (the girl i met in the waiting room, said whatever you do use your own bone... she rejected the cadaveer bone and had to have a second), one uses a brace for 4 weeks, and one doesn't, one said a one - 3 night stay in hospital, and one sends you home after surgery.... I am having surgery with the doctor that uses cadaveer and 4 week neck brace, does anyone know pros and cons i should know for the difference in the ways these doctors do the surgery and post-op recovery.

and then second, can anyone tell me what it will be like after the surgery...... my husband was told by his cardiologist to expect 6 months to getting back to normal life, what is it like afterwards.........does the numbness and pain go away., do you have your life back the way it was, no weight restrictions, can go back to an 8 hour a day computer job.... will all be the say.........!?

Thank You for any help/advice anyone can give...........

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I am 6 + weeks post op. C4-5, C5-06 fusion with plate/screws. I opted to use my own hip bone. Your own bone has live cells, which tend to aid in faster fusion.

I was on my last legs before the surgery - numbness and pain in arms and hands, legs felt like they were stuck in the mud. I had serious cord compression. The surgery was more of a preventive measure to keep things from progressing worse. I have degenerative disc disease.

Legs are back to normal, slight swalling issues, pains that come and go. I was Thursday morning operation, home by Saturday afternoon. Wore a rigid neck brace for 5 weeks straight. (you do get used to it after a while). Sleeping with the brace was an issue at first. Now, I am back to light duty only, no lifting, etc. Must take it easy till spring, according to the neurosergeon. Hands are still numb, and my motor skills in my left hand were all but gone. Coming back slowly.

I am a musician, and the loss of the left hand was devistating to me as I had to stop my guitar playing. I now practice every day, and it's like learning all over again. Like I said, coming back, but slowly.

Get the surgery done. Your quality of life without it would be questionable at best. Best of luck!
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I'm curious to know if you had your surgery yet. I'm scheduled for November 24th and I wish it was sooner because I am in such pain. I too am very afraid of of this, but I am more afraid of continuing with this. I am going through the Mayo Clinic for my ACDF surgery. My doctor said if he was having this surgery he would do the cadaver bone graft than his own. He said that it is not very common for people to have problems with cadaver bone grafts. It does take a little longer for the graft to take, but he said the site of bone graft of your own hurts much more that the ACDF surgery itself. I recall my dad had his own bone graft in his jaw for titanium posts for teeth and he said too that the bone graft was very, very painful.
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I fully understand your concern. I am in the same boat. I have seen 3 diffeent neurosurgeons and had pretty much the same answers as you. I am now going to see and orthopedic spinal surgeon for a consult. My concern is the samea s you in regards tot he type of bone being used for the fusion. Have you had your surgery? If so how did it go and how are you dealing with recovery. I hope everything went weel for you.
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I am a 41 year old female, heavy smoker and over weight, I am 9 days post surgery today. I didnt use my own bone I used donor bone, I have a metal plate aswell screwed into my neck, so far I believe surgery went well, as soon I woke up from surgery I was able to use fingers that I wasnt able to use before, and the pains of electricity that shot through my arms are gone. I spent less then 24 hours in hospital (kinda wished it was longer) and only need to wear the neck brace when I am in an upright position especially in the car, I live in arizona and the heat is unbearable in this brace. I was scared to death to have this surgery being a smoker and over weight made me even more of a higer risk and recovery will be longer Im told up to 10 months. any other overweight smokers have this surgery? Id like to hear from you
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I had a cervical Disectomy done in early November for serious spinal compromise C5 & C6 where involved before surgery i had horrible knumbness in my hands and trouble walking with foot drag on the right.With alot of work on my part i went back to work in early January.Recently i have been reperiencing some new problems as headaches and pain in my neck i went back to the nerosurgeon had another MRI and he informed me that i need to have another surgery done now called a Cervical Laminectomy because there is still a issue with my spinal cord being compremised.
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Hi,

I just had Anterior Cervical Fusion Surgery on May 17th 2007. I am 46 years old male non-smoker in good health 6'1" 195lbs.

I had it done on C4-C5 and C5-C6. I was in massive pain daily my left arm degenerated to 25% the size of my right arm, my hand shook and I had no strength in it. I could not even clip my fingernails using my left hand. My left arm would have hot spot's running down it based on how I sat.

I used the cadaver graft I left the hopspital the following day. I too was scared to death but I am so glad I had it done. My surgeon the next day tested my tricep and he said it is stronger, I found it hard to believe until I came home and was able to clip my fingernails without using my chin as leverage. My quality of life is going to increase dramatically. I wear a foam brace and I was up the next day walking, make sure you take the muscle relaxers and pain killers. Good luck
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Had surgery in Aug 06 and am in more pain now than before. MRI found bones not fusion. however I need to know if there is any one out there who is experiencing pyschological issues since surgery. I use to be supermom and happy go luck person. Woke up from surgey knowing my mind was diffrent. I still think something happened on the table or I;m allergic to plate or the drugs they gave me. All I know is I am gone the old me does not exsist and no one likes the new me, not even me.......... has anyone experienced simular affects PLEASE let me know.
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I had my surgery in August 2006 and I would have it again in a hearbeat if I needed it. Yes the recovery was unpleasant, especially the first couple of weeks, but I was back at work after three weeks doing some light office work and management duties. Before the surgery the ruptured disc was compressing my spinal cord by 40% and I had unbearable pain in my left shoulder and arm. As someone commented earlier my legs had felt like I was wearing lead weights for the last couple of years, I didn't realize what was causing this until now. I used cadaver bone for the graft and had the plate put in also. I was in the neck brace for 6 weeks, but only while in a car for the last week. My neck was sorer than I expected and swallowing was uncomfortable for 6 weeks or so. Lots of walking helped, and I slowly began to regain my mobility. I was actually still pretty stiff in my neck after three months but by six months I was in good shape. My nerve pain was gone when I woke up in recovery so I had immediate relief of the underlying problem. I didn't really dread the surgery because I was in so much pain before, so everybody shouldn't be scared to death to have the operation --- assuming you are very comfortable with your surgeon! Mine had performed this procedure in the "thousands" and he was very good. Don't fear the surgery if you truly need it, being overly simple they put you to sleep and when you wake up an hour and a half later its over. Take the pain pills and the muscle relaxers, eat what you can, and walk and move around. I was in the hospital for 30 hours and then went home. I am a 43 yr old male of average health, build and weight. Almost a year later I am due to have an X-ray of my graft but I feel like its going to be ok. The only thing I am keeping an eye on is my left shoulder blade area, its seems to get tired in the afternoons and evenings and is easier to "fall asleep" and tingle when I lay down at night. Its either me doing too much computer work or I have a little residual nerve damage from the ruptured disc. Not sure which but I'm keeping an eye on it. Not too concerned about it right now.
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After putting off the surgery for 5 long, painful years, I finally got smart and decided to have it. C5/C6 and C6/C7. I used donor bone because the 3 people I know who have had this used their own bone and said their hip was extremely painful. My doc (orthapedic surgeon) also said he would go with donor bone if he had it done, so that says a lot! My suggestion to anyone having this surgery is make sure you get good phyisal therapy afterward to help regain your neck movement. A good PT will work with the muscles in your BACK that help support the movement of your neck. I am 6 months out of surgery, and while I don't have my full movement back (and never will), I have to tell you I am soooo glad I had it done, and sooo mad at myself for waiting so long. For any of you comtemplating this, I know exactly how you feel, and I hope your surgery goes as well as mine. OH! Also, if you do the donor bone route, dont' take any advil or ibuprophine... it delays the fusion of the donor bone to your bone. My thoughts are with you! You'll be just fine! Michelle in Denver :-D
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I had my cervical spine surgery about 5 weeks ago now, I am doing fine, I rarely even took medication for pain afterwards. I felt great relief right after the surgery. Before surgery I couldn't barely walk anymore I was getting so bad. The only discomfort I had once in a while and especially right after the surgery was getting comfortable to sleep. The top part of your back is swollen and sore, but not really painful so I did take some meds the first week to sleep except they did the opposite and kept me up all night. I was very scared especially as they were preparing me for surgery because I was brave till then and then they explained once again how serious and the complications that could arise. But once they knocked me out in 2 and half hours I was done and was drinking and eating right away and I did so well my neurosurgeon let me go home the same evening. No one including the nurses could believe it but I felt better at home in my own bed. I would not go to an orthopaedic surgeon for such a serious operation because of the nerves and the possible dangers you definitely need the best which is a neurosurgeon. I am more worried about the scar going away on my neck now then anything else. I start physical therapy next week and the only thing is that some of the pain and symptoms could come back because of the muscle use again. But be brave and have it done you will feel better maybe not 100% but even anything over 70% or more like I feel is a great relief. XD :
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Hi,
I am reading these posts and had a very different experience. I had acdf on 9/14 for c-3, c-4-5, c5-6, with donor bone graft and a titanium plate inserted. It is now 9/24 and I have been back at work (computer job at home/client site) since 9/20 with frequent nap and advil breaks.

I had significant pain for the 1st 3-5 days and took vicadin, laid in bed, didn't do much and was very stiff on any movement. I took slow walks around the neighborhood and even got in a taxi (with collar) to go to an appt.

Surgeon told me not to wear any collar unless I am in a moving vehicle or in any danger of getting jostled so as I live in Manhattan I wear it at the movies, walking on a busy street and in any moving vehicle.

My problems really centered around stiffness and trouble swallowing. Now I just feel like I have a steel plate in my neck and extreme fatigue on walks over 5 blocks or activity and will take a nap at about 5pm every day.

Good luck!
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This is probably one of the most difficult decisions to make. It was easier for me to know what to do because we went through all of this 2 years ago with my wife. A drunk driver hit her. She used a donor bone and the surgery took and she's doing well. She wore the collar for the full time to heal until set and then as needed afterwards. 6 months recovery was her experience. You're never the same, but preventing it from getting worse "permanent nerve damage " is important. Her quality of life is much improved over what it was pre-surgery. But at best she's only 50% of what she was before the accident. Before surgery she was almost completely disabled and in constant pain.

As for myself I'm recovering fine. When I woke up the pain in my chest was gone, it had been feeling like someone had been sitting on it for a couple of months and it was getting worse. The creeping numbness convinced me to have surgery. I know if nerves are trapped too long that they can die. After surgery it wasn't bad. I was filled with horror stories about using the hipbone, and it did hurt the worst, but nothing like I thought it would. I've had sprains and toothaches that hurt much worse. It didn't affect mobility either I was up and walking 2 days later. I had to have the hip graft because of my diabetes, after reading everything and experiencing it I would probably use my hip graft even if I didn't have diabetes because of the better chance of acceptance, and the inconvenience and pain was minor.

The most difficult thing in all of this is dealing with the boredom. If you want to heal properly you need to stay in bed or recline for about 22 hours a day. The other 2 hours is for short walks and sitting up for meals.

I'm only one month into that and still have another month to go. TV gets old, reading gets old and I haven't learned any Spanish like I planned on. So dealing with boredom is a big challenge.

I have been kept busy emailing and trying to resolve this under "Workers Comp" that’s how I found this site and read your concerns. That's a whole nother story, but it has helped me stave off a lot of the boredom.

I hope this helps both my wife and I am glad we had the operation. And as others have mentioned it's about improving your quality off life that's gone down hill pre-op, not necessarily about getting a 100% recovery, but any recovery or improvement is better than it was before. With time I hope to get the feeling back in my hand, but for now it's not getting worse and my pain is greatly reduced.
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I am glad to hear you and your wife have and are recovering from this surgery.
I knew a lady (in her 60's) that had cervicle surgery using her hip bone that did really well as far as her neck but her hip is giving her fits.
I have to wonder if people do better when they use their own bone instead of a cadavor with implant.
Since my anterior cervicle disc and fusion two years ago I have been absolutely miserable. After the surgery I went back to work for 6 months then finally had to give up my job (of 30yrs) because the pain was so bad. I've been off work over a year now...frustrated because I can't work or do they things I once could (i'm only 47). I understand boredom!
Thank goodness for the internet and this web site..it helps pass some time.
I hope you continue to do well.
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Thanks for your words of encouragement. My wife is doing better, but she is only 50% recovered and can only work part time, still has pain and is oftemn limited in time she can spend on projects. She iwas in no way cured. But she is improved over what she was before the surgery.

As for me, I'm still in rcovery and it's another 3 weeks before I have the follow up to see if the fusion has taken. I don't know what the future holds for me, I'm hopeful.

I think you are correct to let people know that their lives are changed, forever. The question that everyone has to decide on personally is can I at least have improvement after surgery as compared with before.

For my wife the answer is yes, she's not stuck in bed in pain 7 days a week, now it's only 2 or 3 times a week. She job shares and has a great employer, otherwise I'm sure she would have lost her job years ago.

As for myself, I hope to return fulltime, but I know I won't be doing the field inspections I used to. I'm 54 so I have to wait and see. But I haven't heard anybody say that they returned to a full unhampered pain free life after surgery.

The positive results like my wife and so far myself have experienced an improvement over pre-surgery, but not a cure. My wife has pain and I still have pain, but for both of us it's not as bad as it was before surgery.

But I'm still taking some pain killers and have been cleared to return to anything normal yet.

I agree with you too, this site helps me be realistic, and I hope that I can help others be realistic in their expectations too.
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