ACDF - Were your FUSION results good or bad?

I am scheduled to have ACDF c4-5 c5-6 the first week of April 2016, using cadaver bone.  I have heard horror stories of failed bone grafts and increased pain instead of decreased pain.  If you have had ACDF please share your experience with me so I can determine if I want to go through with this.

I am 48 years old and was in a motor vehicle accident iAugust 2015.  I was merging into traffic, twisted from the waist up looking over my left shoulder, when I was hit from behind.  The impact flung me backwards between my seats and I have had chronic neck and mid-back pain ever since.  MRIs show multiple herniated and protruding discs in my cervical and thoracic spine, as well as a reversed spinal lordosis.  The reason for the surgery is I apparently had asymptomatic spinal stenosis when I was hit, now it is symptomatic and had put me in Level 10 pain.  I have tried PT, cortisone shots, and epidurals -- none of which worked.  I had RFA on my right and left cervical spine which helped to alleviate a lot of pain, but it did not help the pain in my cervical or thoracic spine (pain level 3-7 depending on my work load).

Please let me know the good and bad of our ACDF.  Thank you.



  • HualaniHualani Big Ilsland HawaiiPosts: 56
    If it helps, Mine is tomorrow.  Please see the 40 questions to ask your surgeon here. Also make a list of pro and con. Some can live with symptoms, some cant. I made it 33 years because like you I was afraid.Please remember most surgery patients are already pain patients.this means we see the failed surgeries out of proportion with the successes.
    Please ask your surgeon what if you dont have the procedure? Everything my doctors pointed me towards convinced me sooner rather than later promises better results. Sometimes ppl have waited so long (me too) they can reduce chances of tactile function returning, etc. Each case is different. keep in mind you might see the sucessful side of the procedure at your surgeons office from his former patients. also here I found patients like Greggva posting day by day post surgery very encouraging.
    all the best to you.
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340
    edited 03/02/2016 - 7:56 PM


    Mine was so successful that I had another.  I should have pushed harder the first time when I thought hat I need 3 discs fused.  So I had another to do the third disc and revise one of the originals.  The revision wasn't necessary, but since we were doing surgery, it was redone.

    Because of the revision, I am a fan of using pelvis bone (autograft) because it is supposed to fuse better on multiple fusions.  on the other hand, I am only 4 months post-op on the second surgery, so the results aren't in yet.

    A far as pain goes, l ma success story.  Sill healing, but much better, in fact very good.

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  • My fusion was absolutely a succes. I didn't have an ACDF, but my fusion was due to trauma, and utilized a bone graft from my hip. It was also the hardest thing I've ever had to put myself through in my life.  I had a bilateral pars fracture that was misdiagnosed by my family physician for 12 years due to a gymnastics accident when I was 11. Needless to say, after all that time my spine was in bad shape. Several bulging disks, shmorels nodes, stenosis, nerve damage and the fracture. I am now 23, 3 months post op and I've spent my recovery forcing myself through more pain than I could explain with words.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that a fusion is a way to prevent future fusions. The quality of life afterwards is up to you. Make your future quality of life a priority and get in the gym before your surgery. Build your muscles so that when you take that brace off 3 months later, your muscles haven't atrophied to the point where they are basically useless.  Force yourself off the meds as soon as possible after the surgery, and put your body through as much activity as you can, as soon as you can. Forcing blood to the incision site accelerates the healing process. Stretching keeps excess scar tissue at bay and is the only way to maintain your range of motion. 

    Attaining a moderate amount of strength, and flexibility after surgery is the best way to prevent future surgeries. A fusion is not something you can have done, and expect results without working for them. It sucked, a lot, but it was absolutely worth it. I'm dancing again, I'm working out 4-5 days a week, and doing so many things research told me was highly improbable at this point in my recovery. The best thing you can do, is go into this knowing what to expect, and knowing how hard it's going to be to attain the quality of life you're used to. It will be painful, but in my case, it was so, so worth it. All the best. 
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