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Spinal Fusion Surgery - Know Its Surgical Procedure!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Shailesh Jain 86% (13 ratings)
MBBS, MCh, MS
Neurosurgeon, Delhi  •  17 years experience
Spinal Fusion Surgery - Know Its Surgical Procedure!

Spinal fusion surgery is also known as spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis. It is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are permanently joined into one solid bone with no space between them. The procedure aims at preventing the movement between two bones and prevents back pain. It can be performed at any level in the spine (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar).

Indications

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spondylolisthesis ( a condition where one vertebra slips onto the vertebra below it causing severe pain)
  • Fractures
  • Unstable spinal column
  • Tumors
  • Severe arthritis Infections
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
  • Kyphosis (abnormal rounding of the upper spine)

When Does An Individual Need This Surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery is required if medicines, physical therapy, and other treatments (like steroid injections) do not relieve the back pain.

Types of Spinal Fusion

  1. Anterior spinal fusion
  2. Posterior spinal fusion
  3. Vertebral interbody fusion

Preparation for Spinal Fusion Surgery

  1. Preoperative preparation
  2. Preoperatively, 8-hour fasting is required. All the routine investigations, including blood tests, and X- rays are done.

Surgical procedure

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. A bone graft (ie, a synthetic bone or a small piece of the patient’s pelvic bone) is prepared to fuse the two vertebrae. Depending on the location of fusion, the graft is placed accordingly between the affected vertebras to join them. Once the graft is put in place; plates, screws, and rods are used to keep the spine from moving. This maneuver is called internal fixation. It provides stability and helps the spine to heal faster with a higher rate of success.

Postoperative

Postoperatively, the patient may need to wear a brace to keep the spine in proper alignment. Fusing may take up to 6 weeks or longer, after which normal activities can be resumed. Physical rehabilitation is required to strengthen the back and learn ways to move safely. Complete recovery takes about 3-6 months.

Complications

  • Infections causing inflammation of the affected parts
  • Poor healing causing pain
  • Pain at the site of the fused area, especially nerve pain
  • Heart attack or stroke during a spinal surgery
  • Reactions to medications or anesthesia
  • Respiratory problems
  • Damage to a spinal nerve leading to weakness, pain, bowel, or bladder problems
  • Blood clots in the legs that can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs
  • Blood loss
  • Pseudoarthrosis (nonunion between fused bone segments)

Warning Signs of Infection

  1. Swelling, redness, or discharge from the operated site
  2. Fever above 100 0F
  3. Shaking chills
  4. Increased pain 

Safe and faster recovery from spinal surgery is suggested through physical therapy.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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