Spinal fusion surgery, also called arthrodesis, is performed to stabilize the spine. During spinal fusion surgery, two or more vertebrae are permanently connected to each other, joining them into a single bone. Spinal fusion surgery is performed to alleviate the symptoms of a variety of different spinal issues. These issues include degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis or kyphosis, fractured vertebrae and more.
Spinal fusions can be performed in any region of the back (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar), there are also a few different approaches a surgeon can take; however, the procedures have much in common. Spinal fusions are a last resort, but many patients have found relief through this procedure.
What Does Spinal Fusion Surgery Entail?
While there are several different spinal fusion surgeries and approaches, chosen based on your diagnosis, they all follow the same process. There are three approaches to spinal fusions, anterior, posterior, and lateral. An anterior approach is an approach from the front of the spine, requiring an incision to be made in the abdomen. This approach is often used in lumbar and cervical spinal fusions. A posterior approach approaches the spine from the back. A lateral approach comes at the spine from either side.
There are also minimally invasive options for spinal fusions. In fact, The Spine Clinic prides itself in providing the latest in minimally invasive options for spine surgery.
Once your surgeon has chosen their approach and you are prepared for surgery an incision will be made to access your spine. Then a bone graft is inserted between the vertebrae to be fused. Once the graft is in place, cages, pins, plates, and screws may be used to further stabilize the spine.
Why Perform Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion surgery may be performed to alleviate symptoms from a variety of different conditions. These conditions include:
Degenerative Disk Disease
Spinal Instability After Previous Surgery
Spinal fusion surgery, when applied to the right diagnosis, can address lifelong problems and provide much needed relief.
What Risks Are Associated With Spinal Fusion Surgery?
While spinal fusion surgery is beneficial in patients with the right diagnosis, no surgery is without risk. The main risks of spinal fusion surgery are: infection, bleeding, pain, blood clots, nerve damage, and pseudoarthrosis. Some risks or complications associated with surgery can be mitigated through proper pre- and post-operative care.