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What causes breathing problems after cervical spine decompression and fusion?

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Posted on Fri, 15 Apr 2016
Question: Good morning,
My husband had neck surgery Thursday morning (decompression and fusion on three vertebrae). He is taking flexiril and dilauded for pain. He is having a lot of trouble breathing when he falls asleep. He says the flap in his throat closes when he falls asleep and he can't breathe. Is this normal?? When he's awake, he is ok (except for the pain associated with his neck healing). It's Sunday and he can't get in touch with the surgeon until tomorrow. Should we be concerned about his breathing or is this a normal part of the recovery process??
doctor
Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Difficulty breathing after cervical spine surgery is not a normal condition

Detailed Answer:
Hello and thanks for using HCM.

I have read your question and understand your concerns.

Breathing problems after cervical spine decompression and fusion is not normal and needs to be evaluated further.

In your husband's case difficulty breathing during sleep may be a side effect of dilaudid use, but also could indicate small collection of blood at surgery site that compresses moderately spinal cord.

I suggest you to get an evaluation at your local ER by a Doctor about your husband's condition, even to exclude any problems.

After this, reevaluation tomorrow by your husband surgeon is necessary too.

Hope you found the answer helpful.

Let me know if I can assist you further.

Greetings.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Naveen Kumar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Erion Spaho (39 minutes later)
Thank you very much for your answer. He stopped taking the dilaudid as of 7pm last night. He's breathing easier and has been able to get some rest. We will contact the surgeon tomorrow.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (4 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
In this case, no need to rush.

Detailed Answer:
Welcome back.

Okay, then, since your husband feels better after stopping dilaudid, there is no need to rush.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Naveen Kumar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Erion Spaho (2 days later)
Thank you for your response. My husband is feeling much better, but now we have a concern on whether or not his incisions are healing properly?? The surgeon used internal sutures and surgical glue to stitch him up. The incisions are puffy and red. I've taken a picture of them, but I'm not sure how to upload it to this site?? Do I upload it where it says "Upload New Reports" on the right-hand side of the page?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (4 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Follow up.

Detailed Answer:
Welcome back.

Yes, you could upload pictures using our service.

Click to upload new report/ picture and upload them.

Greetings.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Deepak
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Erion Spaho (8 hours later)
Good morning,

Does his scar look like it's healing properly??

Thank you for your time :)
doctor
Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Wounds seem to heal properly.

Detailed Answer:
Welcome back and thanks for being on follow up.

I examined the picture of the wounds you uploaded carefully.

In my opinion, it is too early to judge if there is any problem with wounds healing or not.

At this moment, there is no redness, swelling or wound secretions, this indicates that the healing process is in the right way.

Maybe there is some hypertrophy of wound lips, but it should subside with time.

There is no need for any additional medication.

Hope this helps.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Naveen Kumar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Erion Spaho (3 hours later)
Perfect!

Thanks again! You have been quite helpful! :)
doctor
Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (2 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
You are welcome.

Detailed Answer:
Glad I helped.

Best regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Naveen Kumar
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Answered by
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Dr. Erion Spaho

Neurologist, Surgical

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 4266 Questions

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What causes breathing problems after cervical spine decompression and fusion?

Brief Answer: Difficulty breathing after cervical spine surgery is not a normal condition Detailed Answer: Hello and thanks for using HCM. I have read your question and understand your concerns. Breathing problems after cervical spine decompression and fusion is not normal and needs to be evaluated further. In your husband's case difficulty breathing during sleep may be a side effect of dilaudid use, but also could indicate small collection of blood at surgery site that compresses moderately spinal cord. I suggest you to get an evaluation at your local ER by a Doctor about your husband's condition, even to exclude any problems. After this, reevaluation tomorrow by your husband surgeon is necessary too. Hope you found the answer helpful. Let me know if I can assist you further. Greetings.