@jesfactsmon Hi Hank. I am a Mayo cervical spine surgery patient with a single level ACDF at C5/C6. I had spinal cord compression and a great outcome from my Mayo surgery. That being said, I am also a member of the facebook ACDF group, but I prefer to participate here instead because I can provide more information here and personally it means a lot to me to share what I have learned through my experience to help someone else on that difficult journey. On the facebook group, they will delete posts that have any identifying information for the surgeon or the facility. That makes it hard to share medical literature that could be beneficial, and to be honest about my surgical outcome or even to share Mayo's or other general medical information because it can be construed as promoting Mayo or other facilities. The facebook group tends to be more about patients venting or expressing their fears and frustrations rather than detailed information and patients who have success tend to leave the group. I like to share detailed information that explains things because it helps reduce fears of procedures, and I can't share freely when the group moderators are overly concerned. Here on Connect I can share my Mayo story and also pass along information about spine surgery that are not related to Mayo. Not everyone can come to Mayo, and it helps that we can encourage others to seek the best treatment they can find. When someone is considering a major surgery, the skill of the surgeon, their team, and the facility are very important. Finding the best surgeons in the field and doing everything you can as a patient to increase your success will go a long way toward a great recovery. I came to Mayo after 2 years of consulting several surgeons and none would offer surgery and they missed understanding and connecting my symptoms to my spine injury. I was just getting worse, loosing muscle mass and coordination and loosing the ability to control my arms. During that time, I was also watching online presentations at spine surgery conferences for surgeons by surgeons, and reading medical research literature. When I got to Mayo, I knew that I was getting the right answers, and I had already found medical literature that explained why my case was different. If a surgeon isn't confident, you don't want them operating. I knew I was getting a confident surgeon with the right answers by the way he answered my questions, and I already understood my MRI images before I met him.
It sounds like your friend is getting consistent opinions. I believe a corpectomy removes the vetebral body (bone). A discectomy removes the disc (cartilage), and then the fusion is when the bones grow and heal together because a bone spacer is placed between them. When discs collapse, it can cause the jelly like inner nucleus to be squished out, and that causes inflammation. The body tries to stabilize it by remodeling the bone and growing bone spurs. For me, the disc and bone spurs went right into my spinal cord and compressed it which caused random pains all over my body. The uneven pressure on the end plates of the vertebrae also causes the bone remodeling, and given enough time, the spine can start to fuse itself with bone overgrowth, and that causes problems that affect spine alignment and compression on nerves that exit the spine between the vertebrae. It might be possible that excessive bone growth could make the problem inoperable if it goes on long enough. I have read posts by patients who are wheelchair bound and paralyzed by spine injuries who refused surgery. I know the fear of surgery is real and can be very disabling itself, but you have to weight that against the prognosis of what happens if there is no surgical intervention. Always ask the surgeons questions about what they think about when would permanent and irreversible nerve damage begin to happen, and when is the best time to think about surgery. There may be several different procedures that could address the problem, or different approaches, so always ask why they recommend as they do.
Yes, there are great outcomes out there and I am one of them. Here are some links with my story and some other patient stories about my surgeon, Jeremy Fogelson. I am 3 years post op and doing great. If I need spine surgery in the future, I will return to my surgeon at Mayo. Let me know if I can be of further assistance or answer any questions. For anxiety, counseling can help a lot. One of my greatest lessons in life was to overcome my surgical fears and deprogram them, so fear doesn't control me any more. I worked out my own ways to cope with the fear and learn from it. I've been tested by some other medical issues and fear can still creep in, but I will recocgnize it sooner and be able to get it under control. Those disabling fears usually come from a past experience that creates an automatic reaction because the original fear was not processed and understood. I was still thinking like a 6 year old, and I found a new way to think about my medical dilemma that wasn't so threatening. It is possible to overcome the fear, and in doing that to choose your best choice for your future instead of letting your fears make that choice for you.
Here are a few other links about Dr. Fogelson.