Spinal fusion offers several potential benefits for certain spinal conditions
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure where the bones of the spine are fused together to stabilize and immobilize a damaged or unstable section of the spine.
It is commonly performed to treat conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spinal fractures.
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Here are some key points about spinal fusion surgeries:
- Purpose: The main goal of spinal fusion surgery is to stabilize and immobilize a damaged or unstable section of the spine. It involves joining two or more vertebrae together to form a single, solid bone.
- Conditions Treated: Spinal fusion surgery is commonly used to treat conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal fractures, spinal deformities (e.g., scoliosis or kyphosis), spinal infections, or spinal tumors.
- Procedure: During the surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the back or neck and accesses the spine. The damaged or problematic disc or vertebrae are removed, and bone grafts, implants, or metal rods, screws, or plates are used to stabilize the spine in the corrected position. Over time, the bone grafts promote the fusion of the vertebrae, forming a solid bone mass.
- Bone Grafts: Bone grafts can be obtained from different sources. Autografts involve using the patient’s own bone, typically taken from the hip or another part of the body. Allografts use donated bone from a bone bank. Additionally, synthetic bone graft substitutes may be used.
- Instrumentation: In many spinal fusion surgeries, internal fixation devices such as rods, screws, or plates are used to provide stability and support during the fusion process. These devices can help maintain the correct alignment of the spine and facilitate the fusion of the vertebrae.
- Fusion Process: The fusion process typically takes several months to a year, during which the bone grafts solidify and fuse the vertebrae together. During this time, patients may need to wear braces or use external supports to protect the spine and promote proper healing.
- Recovery and Rehabilitation: After spinal fusion surgery, patients undergo a rehabilitation program that includes physical therapy and specific exercises to regain strength, flexibility, and function. The recovery period can vary depending on the individual and the extent of the surgery.
- Risks and Complications: As with any surgical procedure, spinal fusion surgeries carry some risks, including infection, blood clots, nerve damage, or complications related to anesthesia. It’s essential for patients to discuss potential risks and complications with their surgeon before undergoing the procedure.
- Success and Outcomes: Spinal fusion surgery can provide relief from pain, stabilize the spine, and improve overall function and quality of life for many patients.
Success rates and outcomes depend on various factors, including the patient’s condition, overall health, adherence to postoperative instructions, and the expertise of the surgical team.Rolando Garcia, MD, MPH
Associated Surgical Services
- Anterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion (ACDF)
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
- Posterior Lumbar Decompression and Fusion
- Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion