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Thread: Spinal Cord Surgery

  1. #1

    Question Spinal Cord Surgery

    Would like opinion on surgery. My husband is a quad and is losing feeling in arms and legs (more numb) and has seen a Neuro Surgeon at the VA in West LA. He says that the narrowing of the spinal canal is causing the prob and wants to operate at the C level. Don't know exact C level at this writing, but he is 75 years old. I am skeptical that this will help him. The Dr. claims he will be home in 3 days. Will he have a halo? What are the chances this will help? Has anyone had this surgery? He is a incomplete at C3-C5. He is a walking quad with walker & use of one hand. Reply to B.Thesing@att.net
    Last edited by B.Thesing; 05-21-2009 at 11:41 PM. Reason: email address

  2. #2
    In 9/2004 I had a fusion at c3/c5 due to blunt trauma to the cord (swelling) a narrow canal due to stenosis. In 1/05 I had a laminectomy at c3/c7. For me my use of my legs and arms have gotten worse over time...balance issues and by far the worse...substantial tight/stiff/crushing feelings from feet to shoulders. Also, pain has also continued to worsen. Scar tissue shows up in the mri but I've not been given a good answer...is it from the injury or from the surgery. Given where I am now, I don't think I had a choice given the amount of swelling.

    When my dad was 75, he had a laminectomy at c5/c7 due to stenosis. He is now 80 and his only complaint is he has periphery nerve pain at his shoulderblade area. Both of us need to use a walker.

    I probably did more to confuse you...best of luck

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by B.Thesing View Post
    Would like opinion on surgery. My husband is a quad and is losing feeling in arms and legs (more numb) and has seen a Neuro Surgeon at the VA in West LA. He says that the narrowing of the spinal canal is causing the prob and wants to operate at the C level. Don't know exact C level at this writing, but he is 75 years old. I am skeptical that this will help him. The Dr. claims he will be home in 3 days. Will he have a halo? What are the chances this will help? Has anyone had this surgery? He is a incomplete at C3-C5. He is a walking quad with walker & use of one hand. Reply to B.Thesing@att.net
    B Thesing,

    Narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) is a common problem. It is also a risky situation because people who have stenosis often sustain spinal cord injury with even minor trauma because the spinal cord has little room to move. Especially since your husband already has had an spinal cord injury leading to a C3-C5 incomplete injury and now is losing feelings in his arms and legs, he has not only has a high risk of not recovering that loss but sustaining a catastrophic loss with minor trauma. I can understand why his surgeon recommended surgery.

    You are also correct in raising the question whether the surgery will help and let me try to take you through the thought processes here.
    • Could the problem be due to something else besides cervical stenosis? After all, he is 75 years old, he may be having peripheral nerve problems, and he is aging with a spinal cord injury. I think that a peripheral nerve problem is unlikely to contribute to loss of sensation in both arms and legs. Aging with spinal cord injury can indeed result in neurological losses but again the timing of the sensory loss and the fact that there is coincidental cervical stenosis suggests that this is not just aging but due to the stenosis.
    • Will the surgery help this problem? It may not. In fact, the surgery must be very carefully done or it may aggravate the problem. I have seen, for example, people get worse from decompression surgery of cervical stenosis. On the other hand, I have seen this surgery help many people.
    • Is there anything else that can be done? It is very important that your husband protect his neck. A person who already has had cervical spinal cord injury and now has cervical stenosis has a high risk of not just additional damage to the spinal cord but a catastrophic loss of function with even minor trauma. He should talk to his doctor about getting a cervical collar, for example.
    • What are his options? One option is to wait. As pointed out above, if your husband continues to lose sensation and possibly motor function, then there is little choice but to go ahead with the surgery, unless some other cause of the functional loss is apparent. How long should he wait? I don't know. I think that most people know when it is time.


    By the way, the fact that you are saying that you are skeptical that the surgery will help suggests that there may be other things going on that you have not described.

    Wise.

  4. #4

    Question Skeptical of Surger

    Thank you Dr. Wise for your reply. Yes I am skeptical that this surgery will help him. I have seen many surgeries that were suppose to be safe, go south and make things worse. The Neuro Dr says that he has gotten worse in the three months, since he last saw him at WLA VA. I believe this is a very delicate surgery and no room for error and have a bad gut feeling about it. Having said this, I leave it up to my husband to decide. He wears a collar when traveling in the car and also in his power wheelchair. It's a soft neck collar.

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