I am several years post op C3-7 fusion with partial corpectomy and subsequent laminectomy. Additonally I have 2 level non-contiguous artificial lumbar discs (I don't recommend those at all). A CT 2 yrs after my cervical fusion showed non-union at C3-4 and C6-7. I will need it refused and also several laminectomies. We will leave the plate in and do it from the posterior approach. I am being treated by pain management with meds and ablations for the lumbar spine. I am trying to put off the surgery although my neck symptoms get worse every month. I do have some disc bulging at C7-T1. I have noticeed increasing thoracic pain. Do you find that the fusion and hardware cause adjacent dics to breakdown with the weight? My hope is that when I do have the neck surgery that my thoracic symptoms will be relieved. What is your opinion? (disabled veteran)
It is expected that post fusion, whether in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine, can lead to increased degenerative changes of associated discs. The fused vertebrae no longer assist in the movement of the body and added stress is placed on the remaining discs to absorb. With added stress the disc degeneration advances more quickly and the need for further surgery (fusion at additional levels) exists.
Your situation is somewhat more complicated by the non-fusion of the C3-C4 and C6-C7 levels. Surgery from the posterior approach would probably involve more dissection of bone along with laminectomies in hopes of promoting fusion. It is difficult to say why your fusion surgery was unsuccessful, but this subsequent surgery is intended to allow fusion by removing any potential roadblocks from the existing vertebral bodies.
The slight bulging which exists at C7-T1 is probably not the major source of your current symptoms. Hopefully your thoracic pain will decrease following this procedure.
It is helpful that you are under treatment with pain management and that your treating physicians are aware of your medication needs.
If your symptoms are intensifying over time, the surgery should be done within a reasonable timeframe to reduce the risk of permanent neurological changes that may not be reversed.
Keep us posted on your progress.
Best wishes ---
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