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cervical spine corpectomy and failed fusion?
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cervical spine corpectomy and failed fusion?

6 months ago I had a cervical corpectomy and 3 level fusion C5,6 and 7. I never felt full pain relief and continued to have pain in neck, shoulders, shoulder blades and arm numbing. I was continually told all looked good on films. 2 months ago the surgeon sent me to a PT, she did manual traction on my neck, the next day my arm pain returned, full arm numbing and I have been going downhill ever since. I was sent for new xrays, new MRI and catscan. The MRI to my amazement said that I had numerous protruding disks and central and paracentral herniated disks at the very same levels I had the corpectomy on c5,6 and 7. It also said that I had severe stenosis at c6-7 and this is what I had before the surgery. It said it saw no definite spinal cord compression (my cord was flattened before sugery) and that the exam was limited due to susceptibility artifact at the vertebral levels and that there was perforamnce of a previous fusion at c5,6 and 7. Now the surgeon is telling me that the fusion did not heal and that he needs to perform another surgery thru the back of my neck to place rods in there as I have micromotion. Then he said that while he is in there he will make the opening bigger at c6-7 to free the nerve that is entrapped there?? I asked him how I could have all these herniations at the same levels and he did not answer me straight on, he said that sometimes it is hard for MRI to differentiate bone spur from bad disk?  The fact that I still have severe stenosis on MRI 8/05, surgery 3/05, does this mean that he failed to address all levels of stenosis? why herniated disks?
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Avatar_n_tn
One of the main reasons for doing cervical spine surgery is to prevent further neurological or spinal cord damage. If you had not had the surgery you may have had more neurological damage such as loss of function in teh arms and legs. Surgery does not necessarily reverse neurological impairment or pain.

Its hard for me to comment specifically on your case as I do not know why surgery was done in the first place nor have I seen the MRIs.

One of the problems with neck surgery is that surgery has the potential in anybody to destabilize the spine - with recurrent pain or symptoms. Also, it may make the spinal segments directly above and below the surgery more unstable too with symptoms at these levels, especially if there is degenerative disease there too.  The most important thing then is to stabilize the spine.

Good luck
5 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
He also said that the hardware would break in my neck, I have plate and screws, if this was not adressed soon. He had told me the visit before that I had a bone spur on c5 and this was causing stenosis, caused by motion. The stenosis is at the same levels as it was prior to surgery. Do I have other options than to just have the rods put in? What complications can arise form that? Thank for your time. I am at my wits end and so upset, I was in pain for 2 years before surgery and I went thru he** with the surgery and recovery.  
Thank you again
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Avatar_n_tn
I also forgot to ask what symptoms should alert me to hardware failure or anything to warn beforehand? I am so scared, today I have been feeling sort of dizzy and legs feel wobbly again like before surgery. I am feeling great pressure in my neck, extreme tightness and spasms. I am so tired and worn down from all of this and I want to make sure I do the right thing. Any advice you can give me I will greatly appreciate.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was just wondering what did they say about the dizziness and weakness in the legs and the pressure in the neck!! I had my surgery august 13. I was doing very good. I've got the screws and cage. Mine was also on 5 6 7. Iam not having any pain anymore but I just started doing exactley what u decribed and yes it is very scary I understand. My doctor told me that mine is just my nerve endings are waking up, they have been dead for so long!! Can u let me know what u found out or what your Dr told u! Thank you! hope u are feeling better.
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Avatar_n_tn
if you are diagnosed with failed fusion..you may want to look into a bone growth stimulator..which is indicated for failed fusions..this is an external non-invasive device that may be worth trying before having a revision fusion.  It should also be used on your first fusion if you smoke or if they fuse more than 1 level
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Avatar_n_tn
A related discussion, Similiar symptoms was started.
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, pain 5 months after corpectomy was started.
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