Spinal fusion surgery is a type of a spinal procedure used to join two or more bones permanently in the spine and to prevent movement between them. The bones that are joined are called as vertebrae. Spinal fusion surgery is performed along with other surgical procedures such as foraminotomy or laminectomy and after diskectomy in the neck. It is required if the patient has an injury or a fracture of the vertebrae. The spine will become weak due to an infection or tumors. Spinal fusion is also performed in abnormal curvatures that result from scoliosis or kyphosis.
This surgical procedure usually takes around three to four hours. The surgeon makes a surgical cut and views the spine. Surgeries such as a diskectomy, laminectomy, or a foraminotomy, are conducted first followed by spinal fusion.
Spinal fusion may be done on the back or neck or spine. The patient is made to lie with face down. The spine is exposed by separating the muscles and tissue. If surgery is on the lower back, the surgeon will use retractors to separate soft tissues and blood vessels. A graft is used to fuse the bones permanently. The surgeon gets the bone graft from other parts of the body, which is called autograft. Sometimes a bone substitute may also be used to fill in the space between the vertebrae and form a single long bone.
Pain medications will be given either by mouth or through an intravenous line. You will be taught the ways to stand properly, walk, sit and stand. You will not be able to eat for two to three days. Nutrients will be given through an intravenous route. You have to wear a bracelet after leaving the hospital. The surgeon will provide instructions to the patient regarding home care after surgery. Spinal fusion alleviates nerve pain by creating more space around the spinal cord and nerve roots. This surgery reduces post-decompressive deformity. The spine fusion surgery corrects any deformity which is present before surgery. The surgery ensures normal alignment of the spine. Laser spine institute can perform spinal fusion surgery in minimally invasive manner.
Sometimes spinal fusion can lead to more back pain and prolongs the recovery time. Inflammation and scaring is also possible after the surgery. Due to nerve irritation, pain or weakness can also occur. The fused segment may also cause stress near the fusion. Inform the doctor immediately in case you suffer from breathing problems or witness signs of infection.
What is a spinal fusion surgery?
It involves permanent joining two or more vertebrae to prevent movement between them. This fusion is necessary when movement between the vertebrae causes severe pain.
How are the vertebrae fused together?
A bone graft or a synthetic bone is used as a substitute. These are placed between the vertebrae and cause the bone to fuse and prevent movement within this space.
Q. Is spinal fusion a painful operation?
A. The surgery is performed keeping the patient under general anesthesia. Postoperative pain and discomfort may occur but it varies depending on patient’s physical condition, age, and the location of the vertebrae.
Q. What are the risks associated with spinal fusion surgery?
A. The risks associated with spinal surgeries include the formation of blood clots and infection. With a spinal surgery, additional risks include nerve damage and increased wear of the vertebrae near the site of fusion.
Q. When can a patient return to normal work after spinal fusion?
A. The patient can return to work after two to three months of the spinal fusion surgery.