A serious car accident damaged the spine in Lisa’s neck and changed her life for the worst. The severe discomfort prevented Lisa from doing the things she loved most, including weekend boating trips along the Treasure Coast.
In an attempt to reclaim her quality of life, Lisa turned to Daniel S. Husted, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., a board certified orthopaedic surgeon at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Together they decided that cervical fusion surgery would give her the best chance to overcome her spinal trauma and make a full recovery.
“The biggest benefit (of surgery) is having my life back,” says Lisa. “I’m a person again. I can live my life as I did before the car accident. And I would recommend it to anybody.”
What Is Cervical Fusion Surgery?
Dr. Husted determined that Lisa needed an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery to repair her spine properly. ACDF involves removing a damaged disc in the neck to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord or nerves and relieve pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling.
During ACDF, an incision is made in the throat to access the front of the spine. After the disc is removed, a graft is used to fuse the vertebral bones together. The anterior (frontal) approach enables the surgeon to visualize the cervical discs directly and to relieve compression in the spine effectively. Depending on the patient’s symptoms and unique medical history, one or more discs may need to be removed.
To stabilize the vertebrae, a spacer bone graft is placed in the open disc space and secured with custom-designed metal plates and screws. The graft bridges the two vertebrae to create a spinal fusion and prevents them from weakening and grinding together.
Recovery from Cervical Fusion Surgery
Patients are generally able to return home the same day after surgery with a full recovery typically achieved within four to six weeks. “I felt great the next morning. I got up and was upset because I couldn’t go to work,” says Lisa.
After surgery, the spine will begin its natural healing process, and fresh bone cells will develop around the graft. After about three to six months, the bone graft should be complete solidifying the two vertebrae to form one stable bone segment. Your physician may recommend a physical therapy program to help enhance your recovery process.
Results of Cervical Fusion Surgery
Following surgery and recovery, most patients experience a reduction in neck pain and can return to their daily routine. Studies indicate that cervical fusion surgery relieves neck pain in up to 83% of patients and alleviates arm pain in over 90% of patients.
After successful cervical spine surgery, Lisa is now back to living pain-free. “Boating was a big thing, the bouncing of the boat gave me tremendous pain before the surgery. After having surgery, I could enjoy boating again.”
Lisa is grateful to Dr. Husted’s entire staff for the extra care they took with her. “I was terrified, I’d never had surgery before,” says Lisa. “The staff was great. They understood my fears and were very understanding. They comforted me, reassured me. They scheduled my surgery, and they handled everything that I needed. I was seen very quickly without having to wait in the lobby. Everybody was always smiling.”
Overall, Lisa is glad she pushed through her fears and put herself in Dr. Husted’s care. “My experience was phenomenal,” she says. “Dr. Husted is extremely professional. He’s honest. He had a great bedside manner and answered all of my questions without any ‘doctor’ talk. He let me know person to person this is what’s going on and this is what needs to happen.”
“I would recommend anybody to come to see him,” Lisa continues. “If you don’t need surgery, he’ll be honest and tell you so. My brother didn’t need surgery. Even though he had great insurance, Dr. Husted was honest and told my brother to continue his physical therapy. And that means a lot to me.”