I have had two Cervical Disk fusions, the first one in Mar of 1985 at C-6/7 I had a massive herniated disk with free floating fragements in my spinal canal. at that time I was in the military and the surgery was done at a civilian hospital by a civilian neurosurgeon, at Humana Hospital in Anchorage Alaska. With that surgery they took the graft from the iliac crest of my pelvis. I was in the hospital for eight days, and I had no hardware to hold things together, nor any suction drain. I did have problems with that surgery, although Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion are common place now, back then the anterior approach was brand new! And although rare, I was unfortunate enough to have completely lost my voice after the surgery, and I had some swallowing problems, but after four months my voice did come back although maybe slightly different. Last summer I started having problems with having pain in my left arm and it reminded me allot of the pain I had experienced in my arms back in 1985. Well it turned out I need a ACDF at C-5/6 this time. But since the pain I was having was mostly in my left arm the surgeon wanted to go in through the left side of my neck, but knowing the problems I had with my last disk fusion he wanted me to go to ENT and have my vocal cords scoped first to see if there was any damage to my vocal cords. Well it is a good thing he did this, as on the first fusion they had went in through the right side. Well the vocal cords close up alright when swallowing, but when talking the vocal cords on my right side are paralyzed and would just barely quiver when he told me to make certain sounds. So although my voice came back after my first surgery my voice was never quite the same and now I know why. Well with the vocal cords being paralyzed on the right side, my surgeon did not want to chance it by going in on the left side, because if anything happened to the nerve going to the left vocal cords then I would have no voice at all, so he went in through the right side to do the surgery. I went in on a Monday morning the 28th of Sept last year, and when I woke up in my room monday afternoon the pain in my left arm was completely gone. I had a soft cervical collar on and a small suction drain with a tube coming out of my neck. This surgery they used a cage with donor cadaver bone and a plate with titanium screws holding it all together! I was discharged on Wednesday morning, I was suppose to be discharged on Tuesday but I had some pain issues and low O2 sats and they wanted to leave the drain in for 24 hours longer. I had no problems with this surgery, and it was so much better than the first one I had! Taking the graft from the hip is really painfull. That was one of the worst things about the first surgery! Anyway the problem with the voice is always a risk with this type of surgery, and although it is rare it can happen, but now days it is a lot lest frequent! You do of course do lose some mobility in your neck! The more disk taken out and vertebra fused the less moble you become! With just the one fusion, I did not notice that much of a change, but with the two together fused, I cannot tilt my head back and look up hardly at all and I am some what limited on looking down, I have lost maybe just a little turning my head side to side but I do not notice it that much! It is hard for me to really tell about the movement right now, as I have another bad disk at C-3 and I am to see the neurosurgeon the first of October, to see about having an ACDF done at C-3. My pain doctor is convinced that, an ACDF there is the only thing that will take away the pain in the back of my head and upper neck. He has done three epidurals putting the needles in at C5 and threading a cath up to C-3 and injecting the steroid there. I usually get a good three weeks of really good relief from the pain, but then it always comes back! Anyway I have a herniated and torn disk at T-12 but the docs will not do surgery on it, as they say it is to dangerous of a surgery, so that is what put me on disablility and took me out of nursing! But that is another story! Like my surgeon said with the last fusion I had, of all the spine surgeries, doing the Cervical Diskectomy and fusion is the easiest! It is the easiest to access and although it can be tricky it is far easier to do than doing diskectomies and fusions on the other areas of the spine!
If I can be of any help to you, please let me know! I do wish you well!
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!