Spinal fusion is a type of a back surgery procedure for joining two or more bones permanently in the spine to prevent movement between them. The bones that are joined are called as vertebrae.
Reason for performing the spinal fusion (Medicinal uses)
Spinal fusion is performed along with other surgical procedures such as foraminotomy or laminectomy and after diskectomy in the neck. Spinal fusion is required if the patient has injury or fractures of the spine bones. The spine will become weak due to infection or tumors. Spinal fusion is also performed in abnormal curvatures that result from scoliosis or kyphosis.
You should quit smoking before the back surgery. You should inform the surgeon if you are taking some medications. You should also inform about any present illness.
On the day of surgery- Eating or drinking is not allowed for 6 to 12 hours before the back surgery. Medicines that are prescribed must be taken with a sip of water.
The surgical procedure usually takes 3 to 4 hours.
The surgeon makes a surgical cut and views the spine. Surgeries such as diskectomy, laminectomy, or a foraminotomy, are done 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. 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 different places. From other parts of the body which is called autograft. From a bone bank which is called allograft. Sometimes a bone substitute may also be used. Laser spine institute performs the procedure in a minimally invasive manner.
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 2 to 3 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.
Advantages of spinal fusion surgery- It 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.
Disadvantages of spinal fusion surgery- Sometimes the 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.
Risks of spinal fusion- The risks of spinal fusion are
ï‚· Blood clots in the legs
ï‚· Infection in the lungs, bladder, or kidney
ï‚· Blood loss
ï‚· Breathing problems
ï‚· Infection in the wound or vertebral bones
ï‚· Damage to a spinal nerve, causing pain, weakness, and loss of sensation.
ï‚· Wear away of the vertebrae above and below the fusion
Q. What is a spinal fusion surgery?
A. 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.
Q. How are the vertebrae fused together?
A. 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.
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