Treatment Options

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Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a procedure where vertebrae are biologically welded together. It includes placing bone graft between them and relies on the body’s inherent ability to heal a fracture.

INDICATION

Most patients undergoing spinal fusions have instability conditions such as scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and rarely degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine. Cervical (neck) fusions are commonly performed for disc herniations, spurs, spinal cord or nerve decompression.

PROCEDURE

Depending on the site, a portion of the spine is exposed, the involved vertebrae are identified, and their surface is slightly “roughened up” exposing bone cells, a bone graft (either synthetic, local bone, cadaver, or iliac crest) is placed between the vertebrae. Often spinal instrumentation is used to increase the probability of the bones fusing or welding together.

POST-OP

Patients are encouraged to mobilize early. Physical therapy is usually prescribed. In some circumstances, braces, walkers, and bone growth stimulators are used to promote healing. Nicotine use is discouraged due to its negative effects on healing bone.

POTENTIAL RISKS

As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks including anesthesia, bleeding, infection, neurologic injury, spinal fluid leak, incomplete pain relief, and weakness. As with any fusion procedure, there is a risk of the bones not healing. One of the known risk factors for the failure of a fusion is smoking. Patients are highly encouraged to stop smoking before and following their procedure.

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery