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Depending on the results from my nerve test on Monday (neurosurgeon expects it to be negative for carpal tunnel) he is recommending posterior cervical laminectomy at C5, 6 and 7 and then something else at 7 (maybe discectomy but having read so much and seen so many Drs for some reason can't remember but will obviously ask him). I have an appt with my neurosurgeon this Wed (6/6/12) to discuss the results of my nerve test and to go from there. I've done PT, meds, foraminal injections, epidural steroid injection - and well nothing has worked. I have OA, DDD, 3 bulging discs, bonespurs, mild-moderate foraminal narrowing, straightening of the lordosis I think that's it in a nutshell. On the MRI it shows no spinal cord compression (although it looks to be about as close as it can be without touching the spinal cord) and both my PT and neurosurgeon think that I have symptoms of some spinal compression.

What I'm looking for is someone who has actually had this procedure done WITHOUT fusion. It seems like all of the responses I get in various places are from people who also had fusions which is much different and has a much longer recovery from everything that I've read so their experiences really aren't as comparable.

My Dr. said that with the posterior approach it's 1 night stay in the hospital and about a 2-week recovery period, no cervical collar. He would use plastic I believe cages (another question, he described them like spacers but thinking maybe they're really cages). Many in various forums seems skeptical of this recovery description. However, having read and researched, it does seem reasonable on the short-end of the recovery period. I don't imagine this means being at 100% but released to go back to work and probably with some restrictions. I also know from other surgeries that recovery time varies greatly from person to person. 

The first neurosurgeon who I saw said that if he did do surgery he would do an anterior fusion from C4-7, with a titanium plate. Given that I'm only 46 - chances are that puts me at a high risk of needing another surgery in 10-20 years. Per my current neurosurgeon, with the posterior laminectomies there is a relatively low chance of another surgery, but if so I'd be looking at a 1-level anterior fusion - huge difference in the whole scheme of things.

Obviously before I agree to surgery I will ask my Dr. all of these questions. But I'm hoping to hear from others and what your experience was like specifically without fusion. The more I know ahead of time, the better my questions will be on Wed. I've been asking in various forums on various websites but am just having trouble finding people who have had this done without fusion since the anterior ACDF is the "gold" standard. The neurosurgeon who I am seeing has done at least a thousand of this operation and was trained to do so in his internship/residency at the Mayo Clinic. He said that the reason so many neurosurgeons jump straight to fusion is that they really haven't been trained to do the procedure the way that he does it.

Thanks for any sharing of experiences if you have them!

Carmen :) 

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My nerve test for carpal tunnel was negative and I saw the neurosurgeon on Wed. I am having a posterior cervical laminectomy and foramenotomy at C5, 6 and 7. I keep hoping someone who has had this done without fusion will see this so that I can get some feedback on the procedure and more importantly what their recovery was like now that I've decided to do the surgery.

Carmen
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Carmen
I had posterior cervical discectomy and laminectomy at C4-5, C5-6 on 4/02/12 (just over two months ago) WITHOUT fusion. Also one night in hospital though recovery is taking longer than expected because there was spinal cord damage. I did not lift > 10 pounds for six weeks, since doing physio twice a week. I simply would not consider a fusion; at 53, they told me to change my lifestyle (offshore sailor, off piste skier) instead I found a doctor who could do posterior.
Based on the research I did prior to surgery, anterior fusion is the "gold standard" simply because that is what most N. American doctors have done for the last 50 years. There is a high % of secondary surgeries due to the fusion putting a strain on the adjoining vertebrae. Doing Posterior surgery is more complicated and fewer surgeons do it (See Mayo Clinic).
I have good rotation, my atrophied muscles recovered almost immediately. Physio is really working more on spinal alignment to minimize future injury to the site. If you have an option, I would go for the posterior surgery.
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Thank you so much for your response - it has been so hard to find someone who has had this done! I am 46 which with a fusion puts me at pretty high risk for another surgery in 10-20 years. Interestingly enough - my neurosurgeon did his internship and residency at the Mayo Clinic which is where he was trained to do this surgery. He also said that most just don't know how to do it and so go with the anterior fusion. I'm so sorry that you had some spinal cord damage - although that's the scary part with any of this. But good that things are improving over time for you!

And from all the reading that I've done I really do think that the posterior approach makes the most sense with my issues and age. I'm trying to figure out how much help I'm going to need, with what and for how long. I'm a single mom (although the dad is available to help out with the kids when necessary but they are 10 and 13 so at an age where they can help me a lot too).
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Did you have the surgery? If so...how are you doing? I'm scheduled for a posterior laminectomy at C4-7 in just 4days from now. I'm very scared.
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Hi Carmen, I have to disagree with your doctor on why so many doctors goes straight to the fusion because of MONEY. I seen three surgeon the first said I needed screws, the second said I don't need screws i need the plastic fusion and the last said I spine structure is fine I don't need any type of fusion so far. I am still be tested and hope to have the surgery next month. Really do your homework if you plan to have surgery cause their are many that will leap at the chance surgery and tell you that you need fusion when in all reality you don't. I don't know what stat you are in but I am in NY and my Surgeon is the chief surgeon at the hospital for special surgery, I have the cream of crop and I am more eager to have surgery now more than ever, especially if I don't have to have any fusion. My biggest fear is the nerve damage I might have occurred because i have been dealing with this for over five years and now I have to do something about cause i am not able to walk for more than ten min. I will gladly give you my doctor info plus he is one of the 250 best surgeon in the nation. hope I have been helpful and wish you well.
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I already have a decompression surgery without fusion because is less invasive and a quick recovery process than fusion. Also, I have Grade I Spondylolisthesis and I assume that it is no active that means it is not degenerative Spondylolisthesis. After the surgery 10/4/12 appears that the pain in my left leg is already resolved. I have some back pain and also I am not taking any pain pills. I will have the follow up in six weeks with my doctor and I expect physical therapy. By my personal experience I suggest try first decompression without fusion because after a fusion surgery there is not possible return.

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My mom needs a laminectomy and a fusion. Two drs r telling her to have the fusion but one said she only needs a decompression. My mom is 75 yrs old. She have been having pain in her legs but not in her back. Has anyone just opt for the laminectomy and came out okay without a second surgery
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Hi I am from Australia ,I had a laminectomy 9 days ago ,sciatica pain in one leg for 2 yrs .now after op leg pain still there but not as bad and have reduced pain MEDS ,but from info I have received the nerves can take up to a year to settle ,so I have to wait and see I am 63 yrs old .physio and special exercises are most important,once you have spinal probs ,we have to do work on ourselves forever to stop going back for more surgery ,hope your mum is ok

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You don't mention cervical or lumbar, etc? Hope all turned out fine with mum. I had 2 lumbar laminectomies, progressed to involve nxt vertebrae. Both worked for a time. First in 2001 & second 2010. Now talking fusion AFTER cervical fusion first for stenosis. I'm just 60 and wonderful mum hasn't come to this until now. Know first was easiest, 6 wk recovery. At your mum's age, sure many things to examine first -- rest of health & how impacts her life. Older we get, tougher surgeries are on body. Please let us know how things are or have gone.
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I had a cervical laminectomy 4 levels with no fusion Mar 8th of this year, Spinal Stenosis and four Herniated Disc. According to my surgeon the fusion is not 100% ruled out until during the opperation.Going through the front WILL REQUIRE A FUSION. The recovery time is much longer than going through the front and the hospital stay is longer. Going through the front your hospital stay is one day, going through the back plan on 4 to 6 days mostly for pain management . Recovery time really depends on the person, I was very dertermined followed the excersises the therapist showed me while I was in the hospital and I did not need therapy. There were two levels where my spinal cord did not even have any fluid in the sack to protect it,while performing the surgury he said he could already see the fliud flowing into the sack. I still do not have a complete fit for duty for my job, which I need I'm the chief navigation officer on a U.S. Flag Ship, but if I had an office job on land I would already be back at work.

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Could you please tell me who your surgeon is and where is he located? Three surgeons want to do a fusion on me but this is very scary. We are looking for a list of top spine surgeons who have the expertise to do a laminectomy on C-5-6 and C-6-7. I have numbness in three fingers on both hands, wobbly gate, nerve strikes when I pronate my chin or sit down and some neck pain. I have tried chiropractic, massage, accupuncture, PT with minimal results. But, I still want to be able to hike and play golf!

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Hi.....I am a cardiologist and just considering surgery for similar, although I think less severe problem than yours. I am reluctant to consider fusion, since some limitation of neck movement is therefore inevitable and I still play sports etc....at age 63. How did it all turn out if I might ask and if fantastic ( I hope for your sake), who is your neurosurgeon. Thanks. Hope you are well.
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I read your post about the cervical laminectomy with no fusion. I have very similar problems C3 thru C7 4 herniated disc. and no spinal fluid @ the 4 disc. Have spinal stenosis. I do not want to have fusion done and my doctor told me that is there is movement or it is unstable he will do fusion. I told him I do not want to have fusion done and he said that he would not do it if I told him not to. The laminectomy will be done posterior back of the neck. I take it that is what you had done. How has this turn out for you without fusion being done. I do not want to make the wrong decision as to how going without fusion could lead to more problems? I do know that with fusion it will lead to more problems and surgery in time on the disc. above and below the fusion? What do you suggest after going thru this. Im 59 years old. Thanks Michael
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My mother had a cervical laminectomy without fusion at the age of 71 back in March. She has a history of RA, Osteo arthritis and spinal stenosis. She was quickly developing numbness and loss of function in her hands. She was finding it difficult to drive, write and hold utensils, but was working 50-60 hour work weeks and getting around fine. Surgery was supposed to be a one night stay and 10 day at home recovery, then return to work.
This didn't happen. They sent her home the next day and seemed fine for about 24 hours then things went down hill from there. Tremendous nerve pain in neck, shoulders, hands. Painful spasms. Instability using walker, fell a couple times and ended back in the hospital for rehab and pain management. To make a long story short, I had to move her to be closer to me and is in a nursing facility where she has exhausted her physical therapy allowance and is no longer progressing. She can't walk, has continued numbness and loss of function in her hands and has been treated for neuropathy with IVIG treatments which weren't working. Latest MRI shows, slippage of her C-4 through C-6 area with some "crumbling". With her history, I have been having a hard time understanding why they would do a laminectomy without a fusion. She clearly didn't have any stability in that area once the laminectomy was done and now she's close to being a quadriplegic. We are waiting now to see a different neurosurgeon that thinks he can fix that area, but she will need 2 more surgeries to do this and she will probably never recover to live life as before. Because she has been basically bed ridden since June, she has developed other issues, in addition to muscle loss. She has lost her job, her dog, her car and next is her house to help pay for all the expenses.
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