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Over a year and not fused!!! ACDF

A year out and I am not fused from two level 5-6,6-7 ACDF. No longer seeing the surgeon that performed the surgery basically because he didn't give me the time of day post surgery and only seen his PA. New doctor is calling it a failed fusion and first suggested going back in through the neck and take a piece of bone from the hip. After new MRI he stated the the cage my previous DR used is intricate like lattice looking and he is no longer confident he could do it through the front. He explained through the back is a harder recovery and more intensive. He has me on a bone growth stimulator machine in an attempt this thing to fuse. It's real late in the game though from what I am reading. My surgeon never had me on this machine after surgery and I am now aware that not all doctors recommend it after fusion surgery. Has anyone here taken over a year to fuse ? I really am trying to avoid another surgery, especially through the back of my neck . I am still experiencing numbness in my hand as well as weakness and my range of motion is pretty bad. Infrequently I am still getting these bad spasms in my upper trapezius, these painful episodes were the first symptoms I had many years ago that eventually prompted an MRI. I am back to seeing pain management doctors for trigger point shots again. Anyone going through something similar? I would love to know what your doing and your current or past course of action. Thank you



  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 164

    God this is exactly my story except I am 2yrs out with same levels, same crap surgeon and same crap after care and just changed to a new surgeon who found my failed fusion. Said he will have to do posterior and so 3 thru 6 now it's so unstable. I just had my very first trigger points this morning and esi at c4. I've had plenty of those have never had the triggers and as of right now I feel pretty good and never got this result before. It's not fixing anything but since I cannot do the surgery yet it's helping me tolerate the pain until I can find time to take off work. I finally got in a real pain mgt last wk and they got me on real meds and these procedures so maybe I can wait a long time before moving forward to this fresh Hades. Look up my name and read my stories of all I've been through and see how much is similar to you.


  • Sounds exactly like my surgery as well, I am now 3 years post OP of the same vertebrae. The surgeon waited until 14 months post OP to try the bone growth stimulator all to no avail. Now it’s a wait and see how long the hardware stays intact! Also a pain management patient or was when my PM MD closed office and moved to another state so it’s off to find another one. Amirino, like you I also deal with the pain and spasms. My surgeon advised that when the hardware fails, then he’ll go posterior but fuse 1 higher and 1 lower which the last MRI showed wasn’t doing that well. Until then, I’ll just put on this smile everyday and keep chugging away. Keep us posted my friend!

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  • amarinoaamarino New yorkPosts: 3

    Thanks Juliand David, sorry for the late response. That posterior surgery is not as easy as the front as you probably know already know. Soooo frustrated!!!!!! What the hell is it with these doctors anyway. I recently went to a new pain management Dr who has scheduled me for a bunch of tests. Bone density, another EMG (it's like my fourth) flexion x-rays. We'll see . He was talking about something called a D -Thrax that could be a possibility depending on results of tests and things. I will keep you guys posted . Thanks for sharing and if you get some relief with something please post and I will do the same. Good luck compadres

  • I had C4-C7 fused 4 years ago, C6/C7 only partially fused. the space where the cadaver bone was is empty and there are 2 small places where it looks like bone. Dr said he didn't think that's where my pain and renewed tingling symptoms are coming from and so tomorrow I go for an MRI due to narrowed space between c3/c4 on CAT scan. Thinks disc may be the issue. I knew there was an increased for adjacent disc syndrome so well see after tomorrow....

    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I have a failed c6/7 fusion and just found out about a month ago. This was 18 months post op. I had been struggling with the deep bone pain, spasms, and now I am battling scapular and shoulder pain. I was going for an injection when my surgeon took an x ray and found the non fusion. She told me to forget about the injection as it would not help. Posterior revision was recommended and my surgery is scheduled for 1/2/18. Donor graft.

    My take is that I never got to experience the relief a fusion was to provide after blowing out my disc. The bone grafts started to grow then just quit on me, leaving a lot of movement, and ultimately driving me crazy with pain. I am more of the type to try to make it better before letting it get to the point where I have to have another surgery. But I plan on this being my last one! I have one screw loose (in my hardware), so no sense in letting them all get loose. Time to stabilize this thing and get back to living.

    And yes, I am just as scared for this one as I was for the first one. But I feel I have one more chance to make this better while I am young, so I can live the life I want to live. I have read hundreds of posts on this site, and so many people have it much worse than I. And everyone seems to have a unique perspective on all of this spine stuff. My surgeon did state she has pseudo patients that never know they did not fuse. Unfortunately, I had a hunch something was not right.

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  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 164

    Anthony....what is this dthrax you mentioned?

  • My first fusion done with cadaver bone healed successfully. Two years later I had another fusion done at C5/6 with the same surgeon using pelvic bone. No problems. A year later I took a crazy backyard fall in a lawn chair that started intense arm pain and started up back spasm and what we called my "fake heart attacks". After new scans surgeon referred me to another specialist for his opinion. That Dr. ordered the nerve conduction studies and we decided a lamenectomy might relieve the nerve impingement. At the same time he'd clean up the last fusion using bone from the lamenectomy. All this done posterior. Had surgery in May 2017. Nerve damage relieved going back to Boston on Feb. 7th for new scans to see if the bone has fused completely. Mean while my neurologist ordered blood work due to some balance issues I was having. B12 came back off the chart low. I'm now taking B12 pills every day and shots bi-weekly. Hope it hasn't kept the bones from fusing. I spent 4 days in the big city hospital compared to 36 hours in home town for ACDF operations. The pain seemed similar, neck brace was the same, and I could EAT with the posterior. I'm older 69. Not sure if this will help.

  • I am sorry to hear of your lack of success. I can only guess what the issue may be but I had ACDF of C3 thru C7 one year ago last month. The biggest difference I can see is my doctor advised me to have the best chances of a positive outcome he advised doing front AND back fusion. My surgery was no less than eight hours and one night in the ICU for close observation. I have enough hardware in my neck to start a hardware store. I have plates front and back along with 20 screws. The pain and numbness I went into surgery with was totally gone when I came out of the surgery and has never returned. It was not a walk in the park going thru it but at six months the x-rays showed almost 100% fusion and at one year it is total. Yes it was alot to go thru but like my doctor told me going in I could either go this route with near 100% success rate or just do the front and take a chance having to go back and do more later. Best of luck to you going fr

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