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Seeking for Decision Making Assistance

Hello everyone. I have been reading many helpful articles/forums discussions, and found to be VERY informative and helpful. Here I am finally signing up. :)

I just was told by a neurosurgeon that there are necessity, not an urgent one, for C6 corpectomy, C5-C7 anterior cervical fusion. I am glad this issue was found at an early stage, but I am very scared to go through with the surgery. The doctor told me that it will only get worse; and damages will be permanent. All I know as of now is that I will have a surgery when I decide to. However, I am having difficulty deciding when as in near future or wait for it to show more symptoms and symptoms to get worse. What are difference between corpectomy and discectomy? Thank you for your support and your assistance.



  • Hello momo

    I can tell you from personal experience that I waited five years before deciding to have two level acdf.  I thought it wouldn't get worse or somehow I would be the exception to the rule.  I had three opinions and all three said surgery is necessary.  I know better than they did even though they went to medical school.  Now I am paying the piper for my procrastination.  Things got worse and they are staying bad.  I am going to have surgery and I wish I had not waited.  I am no longer afraid to have surgery because the pain is more than my fear at this time.  My point is if three drs tell you that you need surgery, guess what you do.  Learn from my mistake, I know everyone is different but I waited to long and they are all telling me now I will not get total relief from my symptoms.  I will take what I can get at this point.  I don't want to say anyone should have surgery but listen to your dr if you trust him or her if your condition warrants this. 


  • Thank you for your replies.

    Kimmy72, I appreciate your quote "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  That's what I keep telling myself. It is more for prevention than anything else.

    Thank you dmo for your thoughts! I am saying something similar what you mentioned ->>> "It wouldn't get worse or somehow I would be the exception to the rule".  I am contemplating on getting a second opinion from a different neurosurgeon. 

    OMG!!! Having a cervical pine surgery is so serious decision... *sign*
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  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,496

    Welcome to the forums, glad to have you here.

    I usually tell members that everyone has to make this decision themselves based on the information available.  That means you have to compare the risks/rewards of having surgery and decide if and when you are ready.

    For dmo, that was 5 years later with regret.

    For me, it was just months.  I had to get back to working at 100%, so it was more of a no brainer for me than others.

    As far as your question about the difference between Corpectomy and Discectomy go, I would encourage you to use the search feature at the top right of this page.  When you search for each term, you will find articles, videos and member discussions.  The short version is Corpectomy removes some/all of a vertebrae while Discectomy removes some of the disc.

    Good luck with your decision.  Do you have any specific concerns?
  • Bruce, I appreciate your input. I am well aware that it is my decision to make, and mine alone. 

    Kimmy72, Thanks for helping me sought out my journey to get to this point. I have realized that getting to neurosurgeon was a long path. In a way, I was lucky that they have found cervical spine issue at this point of my life. I never have imagined that my shoulder surgery would have led me here.

    I started off with a shoulder pain, and had a acromioplasty. My recovery has been very slow, and pain has been persistent. A long story short, the shoulder surgeon referred me to another orthopedic doctor who is specialized in spine, and had an MRI for cerival spine done. He referred me to neurosurgeon after seeing my MRI, and also told me that he wouldn't be throwing "S" word around if he thinks that I wouldn't need it.

    The followings are what they found;
    C5-C6: There is moderate-severe spinal canal stenosis due to broad-based disc spur complex and ligamentum flavum thickening which result in mild circumferential mass effect upon the cervical cord. No focal cord signal abnormality is seen. There is moderate bilateral osteophytic neural foraminal stenosis, left greater than right.

    C6-C7: There is moderate-severe spinal canal stenosis due to prominent central disc extrusion and ligamentum flavum thickening, which combined to result in moderate cord compression. The inferiorly migrated disc extrusion component extends to the C7-T1 level. There is moderate right and moderate to severe left osteophytic neural foraminal stenosis primarily due to uncovertebral joint, and to a lesser degree, facet arthropathy.

    C7-T1: Lower portion of C6-C7 disc extrusion slightly indents the ventral thecal sac not resulting in significant canal stenosis. There is no significant neural foraminal stenosis.

  • What a GREAT advise, Kimmy72!

    "I think that helped channel my anxieties about having surgery into something more constructive. I had my "ducks in a row" by the time my surgery date arrived, and aside from the natural pre-operative jitters, I felt confident in my choice of surgeon as well as the work I'd put into creating a practical recovery space for myself afterwards."

    ANXIETIES!!! That's for sure!
    You are so right about channeling anxieties to more constructive energy. If you do not mind, can you explain little bit more about "duck in a row" and "practical recovery space."

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  • momo-kmmomo-k Posts: 127
    edited 08/18/2016 - 2:13 PM
    ... so here I am still debating with myself over ACDF and corpectomy...

    I appreciate you for listening and also helping me sort out things or two.... If I have been repetitive, please forgive me.
    I have been explaining to myself that I am getting this surgery to stop progression of symptoms, and/or preventing symptoms from manifesting themselves in the future. Noticeable symptoms that I have been having far are; neck/shoulder pain, tingling in fingers/arms in the mornings, falling/tripping occasionally, and issues staying a sleep. Getting Stressed = Muscle Tensions = Shoulder/Neck Pains = Tension Headaches. More I do, more I notice that pains are there. PAIN and Low Endurance are the BIGGEST complaints I have. Since my SG left up to me as to when to have a surgery; I think I am trying to find a way to get out of it, or maybe, I am in a denial or some sort...

    I get the impression that I should not put to much hope in getting pain relief from the surgery, however, I should put more focus on "preventing future complications (issues with walking, numbing fingers, motor skills)."  Do I have it almost correct in what I should expect getting out of the surgery?
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,496
    Yes, if you haven't read my story read it - and feel free to ask questions as I didn't include all of the details.  It was long enough already :)
  • momo-kmmomo-k Posts: 127
    edited 08/18/2016 - 10:00 PM
    Kimmy72 and Bruce, you have been so helpful. THANK YOU! I am so glad that I have found this forum. :) I don't feel so alone... People here UNDERSTAND how it REALLY feels like to be faced with this difficult situation.

    As far as pain goes, my NS gave me am impression that maybe pain will go away.

    C6 corpectomy, C5-C7 anterior cervical fusion -> is this a 2 or 3 level fusion?
    I found out the type of procedure that my NS will be performing after I talked to him on on-line discharge instruction. I thought  I was getting discectomy not corpectomy.  This info freaked me out especially after I researched more about it, and decided to seek for second opinion. 

    ...also is it normal to feel like... this could be an end of my active life...? millions of things fly through my head...
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,496


    Thanks for the kind words.  I will speak for Kimmy, those words mean so much to us and are humbling.

    C5-C7 is a two level fusion .  C5-C6 and C6-C7.

    also is it normal to feel like... this could be an end of my active life...? millions of things fly through my head...

    Absolutely, that is very normal.  I didn't find this forum until I was well along my road to recovery from my second surgery.  I kept saying to people that it would be valuable to me to have a support group.  That is what this forum is all about, so use it to get answers for your concerns - then they can fly out of your head!

  • momo-kmmomo-k Posts: 127
    edited 08/22/2016 - 6:26 PM
    just brain farting here... *again*  :o
    More I think more I get scared about a surgery, and get confused with everything that's going on... As I research and ask more questions, I am getting further away from reaching a decision. My brain power is consumed with this. *sigh*  I know "I" have to reach a decision on my own...soon rather later.

    A few doctors told me to make a decision based on symptoms that I have. My symptoms are mainly pain, occasional tingling, and drop stuff when I am not deliberate with my own actions. Lately, I am thinking maybe I would be better off living with them rather than having a surgery. NS stated I am showing an "early" symptoms but there is a necessity to have a surgery. Then he shows me the MRI and tell me the reasons why I need a surgery. well... there it is the answer!!! Right? NOT!!! Then why am I resisting? I am resisting maybe because I am experiencing only early symptoms? OMG I AM SO CONFUSED!
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