What is a spinal fusion?
A spinal fusion is a type of surgery that welds together two or more bones in the spine. It uses a graft to stimulate healing and encourages two bones to heal into one solid bone. The graft may be bone from the surgical site, a piece of bone from the hip, a piece of bone from a cadaver or artificial bone material. Spinal hardware is often used to hold the two or more bones together while the graft fuses.
What is the procedure for a spinal fusion?
A spinal fusion typically involves an incision over the vertebrae to be fused. The muscles are moved to the side, allowing the surgeon access to your vertebrae. If bone, disc material or tissue is compressing the nerves, the area is decompressed, allowing sufficient space for your nerves. In cases where the disc is removed, bone drilled off frequently is packed into an interbody spacer, which is then placed between the vertebrae. Screws are put in each vertebrae, and rods are then used to connect the vertebrae.
How long is a spinal fusion procedure?
On average, a spinal fusion takes three to six hours.
What spine conditions is spinal fusion used for?
What are the risks of spinal fusion?
Risks are present with any surgical procedure. For patients undergoing a spinal fusion, risks can include but are not limited to a lack of relief from symptoms, wound infection, durotomy/cerebrospinal fluid leak, post-operative hematoma, cauda equina syndrome, wrong-level surgery, nerve damage/paralysis, risk of blood transfusions, decreased mobility/range of motion in the spine, non-union of the graft (pseudoarthrosis) and adjacent level degeneration/disease.
Interested in learning more about spinal fusion?
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