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Had C-spine surgery. Having pre-surgical symptoms. Having headache and pain in arm. X-ray showed grossly anatomic bony alignment. Meaning?

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Practicing since : 2002
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I had C-spine surgeries in 2011 in C-5/6 and C-3/4 and 4/5 on 4/1/13. I am having pre-surgical symptoms. I saw the neurosurgeon for my post surgical check-up. I told him that I was still having headaches and pain in my left arm. He told me to stop wearing the neck brace. I asked him what the following findings meant. He responded that they were part of healing. These are the X-Ray findings: C3-C6 fusion demonstrated with similar alignment as compared to prior examination. Interbody spacers at the C3-C-4 and C4-5 levels. Fusion material at the C5-C6 Levels. There is grossly anatomic bony alignment. There is minimal prominence to the prevertebral softtissue at the C6-7 levels. What does this mean?
Posted Sun, 11 Aug 2013 in Back Pain
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 24 minutes later
Thanks for writing to us.
You underwent C 3-6 anterior cervical discectomy with fusion. Surgeon removed the disc and filled that space with interbody spacers for spinal stability and fusion. We expect that your bone will fill the gaps over the period and there will be fusion from C3 to C6 levels. This is all postoperative details. What do you want to know? let me know if you have any particular question? Thanks.
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Follow-up: Had C-spine surgery. Having pre-surgical symptoms. Having headache and pain in arm. X-ray showed grossly anatomic bony alignment. Meaning? 55 minutes later
Thanks Dr. Chaudhari,
Are you also implying that this is normal post-op healing? I have also been scheduled to see a rheumatologist for recent signs of Rheumatoid arthritis. Could this attribute to some of the symptoms that I have? I understand that my Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder and so is rheumatoid arthritis. In your response you stated, "We expect that your bone will fill the gaps over the period". Are you stating that the my bone will fill the gaps over the long run or that they should have fill the gaps over the three month period since surgery?
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 35 minutes later
It is normal post op healing. Regarding the symptoms, headache may be due to immobilisation of neck and trapezius spasm. Arm pain is related to the nerve pressure however if it is on and off for some period then it will go away. If it is persistent and worse or same as pre-op then it needs to be investigated and you may have to consider doing repeat MRI. X-ray findings will not tell us about nerve pressure. X-ray is helpful to judge the bone healing.
In this surgery we remove the disc and we put the spacer (filled with your own bone graft or auto graft) in that gap. Usually complete bony healing with fusion of the vertebral bodies take 6-9 months. CAT scan is better investigation to judge the bony healing and fusion as we can see bone formation from upper vertebral body to lower vertebral body.
I do not think this is related to rheumatoid or graves disease. Thanks.
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