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should I have cerival fusion surgery?

Started by tudeb on 10/24/2010 12:57pm

C4-5 chronic disc protrusion asymmetric to left with osteophtic changes and facet arthropathy causing mild central canal stenosis measuring 8.4 mm in AP dimension and encroachment upon the anterior subarachnoid space, left greater than right recess proximal neural foraminal narrowing.

C5-6 sizeable broad based right sided disc protrusion and prominent osteophytic changes causing moderate canal stenosis. canal narrowing to 6mm in AP dimension. There is indentation upon the rightward aspect of the cord which is slightly flattened. There is right greater than left neural foraminal narrowing potentially symptomatic involving right sided exiting nerve root.

C6-7 again there is modest sized right osteophyte disc complex causing right greater than left recess stenosis and mild central canal stenosis.

Impression: This unenhanced MRI of cerival spine shows degenerative changes and chronic disc protrusions at C-4,C-5 and C-6-7 where changes appear more pronounced when compared to previous study. At C5-6 there is a sizable chronic disc protrusion osteophyte asymmetric to right causing moderate central canal stenosis as well as right lateral recess and nerual foraminal stenosis that potentially could be symptomatic involving the exiting right C6 nerve root at this level. At C6-7 there is also predominantly right paracentral disc protrusion and osteophyte complex that causes modest recess and neural foraminal stenosis and mild central canal stenosis that could potentially be symptomatic involving the exiting right sided nerve root at this level.
At C4-5 there is an osteophyte disc complex that is asymmetric to the left causing mild central canal stenosis and left greater than right neural foraminal narrowing without definite neural element compromise.

I have moderate to severe pain with numbness and nerve pain down my right arm into hand. I have just recently started to drop things and have been having difficulty working as a dental hygienist. I have been progressively getting worse since 2002 when this was first diagnosed with MRI. Contemplating cervical fusion at C5-6 and C6-7 due to pain levels and inability to work. Just getting opinions outside my spine surgeons advice.

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2 Responses


I have had 2 successful cervical surgeries, see my previous post at " C7-T1 radiculopathy." It all depends on the experience of the surgeon IMO. If you live in south florida I can tell you who to see otherwise get a few opinions from spine surgeons


Just 12 days ago I had ACDF diskectomy & fusion at C7-C6 C6-C5 & C5-C4. There was no hesitation on my part to sign for surgery when they told me I had 3 bad discs. I had been suffering off and on since 1991. Past MRI's showed degerative disc disease and arthritis, but no one offered to repair it. Finally I said to the doc, how about we try treating the arthritis? He put me on a drug named Daypro which, in two weeks time knocked out pain that I had been unable to control during the previous 8 years.

I don't know why, but it always started in August or September with a stiff neck and stiff shoulder on my right. Without the Daypro, I would usually be twisted like a pretzel by Christmas. At its peak, my right thumb, index, & middle finger would tingle with numbness. It felt like I was being poked in my armpit and shoulder with a knife each time I coughed.

This Sept. I went in for a routine Colonoscopy. When I was awakened from the anesthetic I immediately noticed that I had the dreaded stiff neck so I did not waste any time in trying to get a script for Daypro. My spine doc offered me generic Oxaprozin which does not work for me. So, he put me on Prednisone. My family doc did write the Daypro. I began taking them on a Monday evening. Although I felt immediate relief, by Wednesday I stopped the drugs because I just did not feel right. By Friday I was exhausted just from simply showering. Could not raise my right arm above my head. Had to shave and brush my teeth using both hands. My wife took me to emergency, and after 8 hours of testing I was admitted with an inflamed pancreas. That night, the more time I spent in the hospital bed, the worse my neck got. Finally, I spent 2:30 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. sleeping upright in a chair. Pain shots only helped for about 45 minutes. Saturday, they did MRI and told me I had 3 discs in real bad shape. I am only 58, and this started 19 years ago!!

Anyway, they sent me home for a week to let my pancreas cool off before doing the fusion. So far, it has not been too bad. I am angry that they did not share the schedule with me for how they planned to wean me off of the pain meds. My surgery was at 12:30 P.M. By 5:30 P.M. I was in a low-tech. ICU unit that had a pain pump I could press every 6 minutes. Trouble was if I fell asleep, I was not getting any pain med. The next day, at 5:30 P.M. they moved me to a regular room. On the way there they told me that I was being removed from the pump, but I could have a shot of pain med. every 2 hours, plus pills in between. I went from the pump every 6 minutes to having nothing for the first 1/2 hour after moving to the new room. There were no pills given to me in between as promised. I was elegible for a shot at midnight, but in an effort to not be labeled a "whiner" I tried pushing it to 12:30 A.M. before asking. What was my reward for doing so? They brought me two lousy 5mg Oxycontin that did nothing for me. Finally at 1:30 A.M. they gave me a shot which helped me get an hour of sleep. When I awoke at 2:30 A.M., I went through a 5 hour panic attack. I had enough of the plastic collar which made me feel trapped. Couldn't stand anything touching my throat. The lack of pain med. made it harder to tolerate.....but I got through it.

Back to the fusion. I peeled the dressing off today, and to my amazement there is no scar. The only thing showing is a distortion of skin on the front of my neck. It looks as though a 2 inch section of a straw has been buried under my skin, nothing else. You should suck on the ice chips as soon as you can. I found they helped reduce the swelling in my throat. Your throat may be sensitive to spicy things for a while. I was served raspberry jello in the hospital but I choked on the flavor. A brownie tasted good, but the chocolate just hung in my throat. I did have two full meals in ICU, but I had the pain pump to help food go down.

I would think your occupation requires frequent bending of your neck. Only you know if you can adapt. Sorry I'm not much help to you because I just had mine. I am on a 3 pound weight restriction, so I cannot work. I don't know if I will be able to go back to my job. I work mostly at a bench where I calibrate gages, but some of those gages can weigh 40 or 50 lbs. Time will tell. Good luck on your situation, whichever way you decide. One other thing, my discs were replaced with pieces cut from the fibula bone of a cadaver. Sometimes they take bone from the hip of the patient. My doc said that sometimes the hip wound is more painful than the fusion. Glad he did not take from my hip!!