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    Unexplained inflammation following cervical fusion
    floridastatefan posted:
    Hello - I am over one year post-op of cervical fusion (second time-first fusion did not take), and the last SPECT Scan I had showed inflammation at and below the surgery site. My surgeon stated she'd never seen this before, and does not know what it could be, or what is causing it. Any thoughts or anyone with similar problem?

    I had three vertibrae fused (C5, C6 & C7), and still have constant pain at, and below surgery site - I have constant burning and "pinching" in discs below C7.

    Thank you!
    Pandorica responded:
    So sorry to hear this. I'm new to this site and trying to find out what to do. Every surgery story I have heard is like yours- more pain after surgery. I have 8 bulging discs with1 being severe and causing crippling pain. What was your pain before surgery? Did it help at all? Lauren
    bj1208 replied to Pandorica's response:
    hi and welcome to the support group -

    this persons post shows up a couple of times and you may see my response on the other post.

    The type of surgery FloridaStateFan had was a Fusion surgery, as I had a single one too, Fusions usually have a success rate of 45%. My surgery was a success as I had fused 100% but they could not do anything for the pains or nerve issues in my legs.

    we have to remember, surgery is not guaranteed and there is no guarantee the pains will go away or lessen them.

    when looking at surgery, the surgeons are mainly looking at correcting the disc(s) problems as they can only hope the surgery can reduce pains.

    before considering surgery you should get a couple of opinions from both Orthopedic Spine Specialist or Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist. And surgery should always be the last resort after all other treatments have been tried and failed.

    you can click on my name or pic and ready my story - hope this helps - please keep us posted - take care - Joy
    Pandorica replied to bj1208's response:
    Thank you Joy-I've been on the Fibromyalgia support group for years,but never found anyone going through what I was. Lauren
    floridastatefan replied to Pandorica's response:
    It did help with the pain that would ratiate to the shoulder and arm, however, following the procedure (the first one), I experienced pain at the surgery site-this included burning, stinging, and pain when flexing the neck. There was weakness in both arms which has lessened over time.
    The main issue currently is constant burning and stinging at and below the surgery site.
    The bone scan I had done about six months post op showed inflammation with the statement on the report stating "inflammation and possible infection."

    My doctor (again) said she'd never seen this and referred me to a rehab program. Their concerns seem to be few, and any complaints are deemed "in your head," or "just keep stretching, and you'll be fine."

    Very disconcerning.

    I would suggest you get as many opinions as possible on your condition prior to any surgery. Hope this helps!
    floridastatefan replied to bj1208's response:
    I appreciate your response - but could you please let me know if you have had the same symptoms following your procedure?

    I had the 3-level fusion, and the second time it did actually fuse, but the inflammation is what I am concerned about.

    Thank you again for your response.
    bj1208 replied to floridastatefan's response:
    Hi FloridaStateFan -

    I'm sorry I missed part of your question - sometimes I get ahead of myself!! LOL

    I did some research on the SPECT Scan, as I'm not familiar with the test. I see that it can be used to look for:

    Bone disorders [br>Areas of bone healing or cancer progression usually light up on SPECT scans, so this type of test is being used more frequently to help diagnose hidden bone fractures. SPECT scans can also diagnose and track the progression of cancer that has spread to the bones.

    I copied the above from the MAYO Clinic's website:

    I'm wondering how the results show hardware, such as the plates, screws and cages used in fusions.

    I know when I have a MRI done I have to let them know I have this at my L5-S1 area and that contrast must be used.

    I don't have and never did have any type of inflammation above or below my surgery site. But I do have arthritis in the facets joints where my screws are and I have muscle spasm and tightness in back from the lumbar to thoracic areas and my neck cracks and pops on the right side.

    In your case your doctor indicates you have swelling above and below the surgical site. Is this on the scar at the top and bottom? Or is this at the spot where the screws are?

    Fusions, by no means, take away the pains - in some the pains may lessen. As for me, my pains are worse than before my surgery. If you look up Failed Back Surgery Syndrome it states that a back surgery is failed because the pains were not reduced or completely gone. It's a terminology that is used incorrectly. As in a fusion surgery, like mine, there were 3 sections to the surgery. #1 is to correct the disc problem (which was done and I fused 100%), #2 is the pain associated with the disc problem and #3 is the sciatic nerves. My disc ruptured and splintered where parts of the disc were pressing on the S1 nerve root on both the left and right side whereas I have nerve damage in both legs.

    In Cervical or Thoracic fusions there are the same sections to the surgeries. Even though fusions have a high success rate (where the fusion takes) pains and nerve issues are high in the problem areas.

    Ok, so what I would do is ask some questions to your doctor:
    #1 is the swelling located around the plate, screws or cage area and where, #2 could the swelling be mistaken as arthritis or scar tissue? #3 what are the treatment options besides injections and physical therapy? #4 could this swelling be indication of body rejecting something.

    If you doctor does not have the answers then I would obtain all your records, from first surgery thru the last test (SPECT Scan) and get a 2nd and maybe 3rd opinion from both Orthopedic Spine Specialist and Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist.

    I have been a member on this website for about 7 years and I don't recall seeing any posting where someone has swelling a year after the surgery as most swellings are withing the first couple months relating to healing procedures.

    I hope this helps a little - please let us know what you find out - take care - Joy
    floridastatefan replied to bj1208's response:
    In response to this one (there are two links going apparently) - yes the bone scan is with contrast (also SPECT scan), MRIs are inconclusive due to the hardware making the image "streaked" by the magnets.

    In my case, the last SPECT scan showed inflammation near and around the fusion, although the fusion itself took the 2nd time.

    This was interpreted by the tech as "unknown inflammation, and possible sign of infection." My surgeon was on board initially with this, and wanted a follow up one year later to see what the inflammation levels were at (if at all). Upon contacting her several months later, she stated a follow-up scan is not necessary as the fusion took. I informed her again of the inflammation, and she once again agreed to the follow up with bone scan. When I contacted her office again to schedule, we were back to the "nothing I can do & no follow-up needed" phase, then sent me to rehab. Basically the pain is still there, I KNOW the inflammation is there, and I am currently with a rehab group that says "It's all in your through the pain"

    One positive....the general practitioner is going to forward a second opinion to an orthopedic surgeon to look at and maybe give me option A, B or C. We'll see how it comes out.

    Like you, I got ahead of myself....the bone scan is similar to MRI - I believe the intensity of the magnets is lowered and the radioactive "stuff" they inject you with will only go to inflamed areas of the spine, "lighting up" areas that are problematic.

    So, we're back to square one - sort of - hopefully, I will be in contact with a professional who has either heard of this happening, or has a genuine idea of how to possibly correct it. I can tell you one thing - carrying milk crates with 25 pound weights across the floor, or yoga moves ain't quite cutting it so far....

    Thanks again!!!!
    bj1208 replied to floridastatefan's response:
    hi again -

    Yes I believe you do need to get a 2nd opinion - from someone other than the surgeon -

    I, too, was given that statement after 8 months post op and I kept complaining to my surgeon that my pains were worse now than before - his statement was: "I did what I said I would do (correct disc problem) and I've done all I can do"

    I was sent to PT and also to pain mgmt - went from one to another - finally spoke to my primary care doc and he referred me to pain doc - he said I was beyond his care and suggested i see a PHYSIATRIST Pain Management (see link)

    this site has a lot of great info and I use it a lot to look up different info for new members -

    but after seeing the PHYSIATRIST and getting a full understanding of what's going on and the full extent of my spine problems I have found that they are the best at helping me not only with my pains but also having tests done each year to watch for other areas of problems (yes the domino effect from fusion of upper spine)

    I do hope that you can find out what's going on - please keep us posted - take care - Joy

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