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ACDF recovery

Started by TeacherJohn on 11/29/2017 8:17am

I joined this site just over a week ago as I was scheduled for C5-C7 ACDF surgery on Tuesday 21/11 and, as with most people who have this surgery looming. I was extremely nervous and worried. Despite having done lots of research I still felt I needed some reassurance that everything was going to be okay but didn't actually ask. Since then my surgery has taken place and I just wanted to post a positive/encouraging account of my experience to date for those still waiting for their operations.

The surgery itself took longer than expected. The foramen were far more narrowed with osteophytes than scans had shown and I was in surgery for approaching 5 1/2 hours. I had opted for bone to be harvested from my Iliac Crest rather than alternative sources, due mainly to not wanting cadaver bone or artificial substitutes implanted in my body and research indicating that autograft bone helped with the fusion process. I was in hospital for 3 days and have to wear a hard collar for 6 weeks. My staples (16 in total) will be removed on Friday.

So far my recovery has been very good. As soon as I woke form surgery the pain we are all familiar and that had made my life a misery for nearly two years had gone. Some loss of sensation in the fingertips of my right had remains but some of it has improved as has the loss of strength I experienced during the past 6 months. There is very little pain from the operation site in my neck but the graft harvest site remains painfull. My main issue is with difficulty in swallowing but hopefully that will resolve over the coming weeks/months.

This surgery is a terrifying prospect and there are many negative experiences on sites like this that add to the worry and stress in the build up to surgery dates. People do have bad experiences but for the vast majority of people like me things go well. If you are currently waiting for surgery nothing I or anyone else can say will take away the apprehension you will be feeling. I would just like to add to the positive experience side of the scales so that you get a more balanced view.

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1 Response


TeacherJohn--thank you so much for taking the time to share your positive recovery experience post-ACDF. Your post will no doubt give many others some reassurance before undergoing spine surgery--and those good feelings will help them throughout the entire surgical experience.

Thank you again, TeacherJohn--we wish you a continued smooth and healthy recovery!