Spinal Fusion is a surgical procedure to fuse two or more bones of the spinal vertebrae using either the bone tissue of the patient or artificial bone graft or screws/plates, so as to mimic natural healing process of broken bones.
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Spinal Fusion is a surgical procedure to fuse two or more bones of the spinal vertebrae using either the bone tissue of the patient or artificial bone graft or screws/plates, so as to mimic natural healing process of broken bones. This eliminates motion between the affected vertebrae resulting in reduction of pain and prevention of stretching of surrounding muscles and nerves.
The surgery is most commonly done in the lumbar region of the spine. Cervical spinal fusion is done to stabilize the neck and protect the spinal cord after an injury.
Spinal Fusion increases the pressure on the bones below the fused portion and may result in rapid degeneration of spine.
It is also called spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis.
The surgery is done when movement of the vertebrae causes excruciating pain. The causes may be any of the following:
Spinal injury or fracture
Spinal stenosis (arthritis in the spine)
Infections or tumors of the spine
Spondylolistheis (a condition in which one vertebrae slips over the other)
Spinal deformity as in scoliosis and kyphosis
Degenerative disk diseases
The surgeon will suggest the following:
Imaging tests such as X ray, CT scan and MRI to locate the painful vertebrae.
Stopping blood thinning medications atlease 10 days prior to the procedure
Fasting for at least 8 to 12 hours prior to the surgery
Spinal Fusion is an orthopedic surgery done under general anesthesia and can last up to 4 hours. The technique used will depend on location of the vertebrae that need to be fused.
During the procedure,
The spine may be approached from the front by giving an incision in the lower abdomen, it may be approached from the back and it may also be approached from the side (lateral approach).
Incision may be given on the throat to approach the cervical spine from the front.
The bone graft may be taken from the patient’s body, this is called as autograft. It may be taken from a donor, this is called as allograft.
The bone graft stimulates bone production and fuses vertebrae together.
A synthetic bone substitute may also be used. Screws, rods, plates or other such mechanical stabilizing devices may also be used.
After fusion, the incision is sutured.
Generally, the patient has to stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days. Complete fusion, similar to natural healing, takes a few months.
After discharge, the surgeon will recommend
Wear a back brace for atleast a month after the surgery
The patient to sit, stand and sleep so as to allow proper alignment
Avoid any strenuous activity
Risk and Complication
The risks associated with the surgery are infection, bleeding, reaction to anesthetic medications, damage to spinal nerve, etc.
There may be formation of blood clots in the legs.
Patient may not be completely relieved of pain despite successful spinal fusion.
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