Neck Surgery

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Mendacity, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So when do you find out whether the surgery solved the problems it was supposed to?

    Also when do you find out whether you die in surgery?
    • Like x 5
  2. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons


    Though good news is, I haven't had a single headache since the surgery. I mean, I had a food headache the other day but it faded the moment I ate and wasn't nearly as bad as my other headaches had been.

    Um and excuse you I did die in surgery, and that's why I'm now a zombie. Duh
    • Like x 10
  3. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So it appears to have actually helped the serious problems it was supposed to help? Fucking awesome.

    So tell us more: What exactly is involved in "fusing vertebrae" and why is it done and what changes?
    • Like x 2
  4. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    Oh okay!
    What it does: It stabilizes a joint, effectively. By joining two loose vertebrae together to where they don't move.

    What happens is they lie you down on a table on your stomach (It took them one hour and thirty min to position me after I was put under anesthesia) and strap you down. They put a halo on me before starting the surgery, and drilled three holes into my skull bone ( Not deep, but deep enough to stabilize the halo) so that my head would not move during surgery.

    Then, in most cases, he cuts a small gash and two smaller 'stab wounds' for his instruments to go in. Turns out my swole ass neck muscles were thicker than normal. So, he only did the big gash (which is considered more invasive usually, but in my case doing the three cuts would have been harder to heal / more invasive.)

    Once they can see the spine, they take whatever vertebra are to be fused, in my case it was C1 and C2, and drill screws in them to 'lock' them together. These are drilled in on the outer sides and made as straight as possible. They then add a bone graft, a piece of bone from the cadaver of someone who signed up as an orga donor / bone tissue donor before they died. After that my fusion is done! They then grind off about a centimeter of bone on the bottom of my skull, stitch and glue the wound to make sure it stays shut!

    For lower spinal fusions usually they also put two metal bars along side the vertebra that need to be fused. (Usually this is needed in older people who have degenerative disk disease or other kind of damage. My mom has five fused in her lumbar spine.) The bars are so that you have some level of movement. People with lumbar and thoracic fusions have a bit more complexity to it, different kinds of tables to lie on (the table they put you on for lumbar fusions is shaped like ^ to expose the lumbar spine), and different styles of equipment.

    Fusing quite literally 'freezes' the joint. For my surgery this doesn't mean much, I lose a bit of my range of movement (side to side only, I can't turn my head completely to the right or left. I do have enough movement for driving once I get better). The positive for me is that it means those two vertebrae no longer slide back and forth, this protects my spinal cord / brain stem. In full cervical fusions they usually go ahead and just fuse the entire neck to the back of the skull, this is a removal of nearly all neck movement. My doctor doesn't do this because he thinks it's inhumane and it severely depletes a person's quality of life. So far Dr. Franck is the only one in the country that treats injuries like mine in this conservative of a way. Conservative, that is, compared to the full neck fusion that any doctors who even recognized a problem would prescribe.

    As a side note, I got a card to send to the family of the person who donated their bone tissue for bone grafts. I do plan on sending it out to them, and maybe sending something nice along with it. Not sure what, but I'm really touched that the place they got my bone from does that.

    But TL;DR - They screw the vertebrae together to keep the bones from moving / sliding / grinding on each other / ect.

    Edit: Oh yeah, they use bone grafts because otherwise the hardware (the metal screws and such) begin to break down in the body. Either they break down and start to rust or the vertebra crack. So the bone graft portion is a big deal, and it's important that it 'takes'.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
    • Like x 9
  5. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    so wait, do you have any metal remaining in your neck or not? or is it just "less metal means less chance of it going missing"?

    (i've heard too many medmal horror stories of metal in body things going horribly wrong so now i am concernicus, but at the same time it sounds like you have a doctor who is actually doing state of the art things and looking out for whole patient health so i'm thankful you have like the best doctor in the nation)
    • Like x 1
  6. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    Two titanium screws! They were drilled into C2 and through C1 to hold them together.

    It doesn't tend to travel in fusion, since it's all screwed into bone and fuses with it. As an example my mother has about 2 pounds of metal in her back which haven't moved since 2011!

    Edit since I'm on the pc and not phone now:


    This is exactly what is in my neck (not the paperclip the screw, paperclip is for size) , there are two of them on either side of C2, screwed up into C1.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
    • Like x 2
  7. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons


    This is the system that Dr. Joel Franck uses for the type of neck surgery I had. It basically is a 3d cat scan plus a system that uses radar. These two work together to make a live, 3d, movable, digital recreation of the skull on that computer.

    This is what it looks like when they're in place:

    • Like x 4
  8. aspectDestroyed

    aspectDestroyed Hal | Actual Robot

    I love radiology...
    • Like x 2
  9. rats

    rats 21 Bright Forge Shatters The Void

    that is super neat, never would've expected them to be at that angle :ooo
    (P.s. I love that advertisement thing for the 3D catscan device, it looks. . .kinda like it was done on mspaint hhhahaah........!)
    • Like x 2
  10. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    OH GOD SAME! It's so cool! There's a couple of video's on Dr. Franck's site ( here ) that show the surgery being done and some of the cat scans. The video at the bottom of the page is the longest one / best one iirc.

    What's so cool about the scans they do is they only spin the cat scan up twice, the STEALTH system uses that and the radar to create something they can use and see changes to actively without running it again.

    HAHA yeah! It's actually part of a powerpoint LMAO
    • Like x 2
  11. prismaticvoid

    prismaticvoid Too Too Abstract

    One of my friends had brain surgery when they were little because they had Chiari, the incision is in pretty much the same place. Can confirm you will have really badass scar. :3
    • Like x 1
  12. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    Oh wow that's cool!


    I'm actually planning to get a tattoo near it once it heals, I want it to include the scar because this has been really a big moment / important time to me? So I'm trying to figure out a tattoo that shows that, one that includes the scar and even maybe defines the scar.

    • Like x 1
  13. prismaticvoid

    prismaticvoid Too Too Abstract

    Swords are always a safe bet!
    • Like x 1
  14. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    glad to hear you don't have much shitty metal in you. do you know how you're supposed to go through airport security?
  15. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    I should be getting a 'I have metal bits' card.
    • Like x 1
  16. Lissa Lysik'an

    Lissa Lysik'an Dragon-loving Faerie

    Titanium in small amounts doesn't show at all to security devices - it's not a magnetic type of metal, which is what they look for. When the Ancient Guardian got his hips replaced the first one didn't trigger the system at all - it was only when they did the other that it became a problem.
    Most US airports ignore the "got metal bits" card and want to do the strip search anyway - we do not travel by air anymore cause of that.
    • Like x 2
  17. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    Ah yeah, I know my mom has one of those cards (Her full fusion has lots of metal in it) but I don't think airports even check her that much. Probably because of where it is, or because she just doesn't ping their radar or something. Who knows with airport security really!
  18. Mendacity

    Mendacity I’m meaner than my demons

    As a side note / update, I'm off of one of my pain meds and on the not-so-powerful version of it (called norco.)

    Along with that I had noticed the very top of the incision had a knot where the stitches started, which seems to have gone down this morning. It's not nearly as swollen! I've also been feeling muscle spasm (thank god for flexoril) in my neck from the muscles healing back up!
    • Like x 2
  19. blue

    blue hightown funk you up

    .. I misread norco as "no-cro"
    • Like x 7
  20. rats

    rats 21 Bright Forge Shatters The Void

    my mom has a fair bit of metal in her left hand, never really had issues with security ever :00 then again, is almost definitely titanium, and considering it's in her hand. . .
    • Like x 1
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