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Post Op ACDF

Post Op in the Hospital

Recovery Room (PACU) (first few hours after surgery)

  • Your exam and pain level are closely monitored

  • Supplemental oxygen is normal during this stage

  • Taking deep breaths will improve your lungs' recovery

  • Compression stockings are used to prevent blood clots 

  • Urine (Foley) catheter generally not needed for ACDF

  • Incision in the front of the neck will have absorbable sutures under the skin, with surgical glue (Dermabond) clear film on top of the skin.

  • Soft neck collar optional for comfort (not required)

  • Pain medicine and other Rx via I.V. (intravenous route)

  • Swallowing difficulty and hoarseness is expected

  • Mobilize out of bed to a chair as soon as feasible

  • Gradually start meals as tolerated

  • Visitation in the Recovery Room is very limited

Surgery Floor bed (if required) (1-2 days)

  • Most patients will be able to go home within 23 hrs

  • Continue compression stockings while in bed

  • Subcutaneous Heparin is started to prevent blood clots

  • Foley catheter (if used) is removed the day after surgery

  • Surgical drain is usually removed within 23 hrs 

  • Advance to regular diet as swallowing improves

  • Ambulate in the hallways as much as tolerated

  • May shower 24 hrs after surgery

  • Antibiotics are taken for 24 hours after surgery or until the drain is removed

  • Transition pain medicine and other Rx to oral route

  • Pain medications cause constipation, which may require laxatives.  

Recovery at Home

First 14 days after surgery:

  • Neck pain, swallowing soreness, hoarseness, numbness and neck stiffness are expected

  • Can shower starting evening of surgery

  • Surgical glue will fall off in 2-3 weeks 

  • Swelling peaks around 3-4 days after surgery and then slowly gets better in 1-2 weeks, so your discomfort may worsen after surgery before slowly improving

  • Limit exertion to less than 10 pounds of lifting

  • Start walking at least 30 minutes every day

  • Numbness and Weakness may persist

  • Neurosurgery visit 10-14 days after surgery for a quick (5 minute) incision site check.  No suture/staple removal required.

  • Safe to drive when off of prescription pain meds for 24 hours

1 to 2 Months post op:

  • Increase activities (lifting limit is 20 lbs)

  • Post op pain/stiffness is still expected, but it should slowly decrease by the end of this time

  • Numbness and weakness are likely to persist

3 Months post op:

  • Neurosurgery visit 3 months after surgery 

  • Post Op X-rays prior to the 3 month office visit

  • Pain and weakness should be resolving

  • Numbness may take 3-6 months to recover

  • May increase lifting and activities gradually back to baseline activities prior to surgery

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