What is spinal fusion?
Spinal fusion surgery permanently connects two or more vertebrae. This process prevents movement between the individual vertebrae. Metal plates, screws, and rods are used to connect the vertebrae. Alternately, bone or a bone like material can be used to complete the surgery.
How do I know if I need spinal fusion?
Spinal fusion sounds kind of scary! So, how do you know if this procedure is right for you? There are three main conditions that answer the question, what is spinal fusion, and do I need it?
- Spine deformities: surgery corrects a condition such a scoliosis
- Weak or unstable spine: corrects instability due to severe arthritis
- Herniated disk: regains stability of the spine after removal of a damaged disk
While spinal fusion can be successful for these three condition, it has not been proven in situations of non-specific back pain treatment.
How does spinal fusion help?
When two vertebrae are fused together, this creates one solid bone instead of two. Since the two vertebrae can no longer move independently, the pain associated with their movement or instability is alleviated. This procedure also prevents the stretching of the nerves surrounding the vertebrae which can reduce your pain. Since only a small portion of the spine is fused, spinal fusion surgery does not usually limit range of motion once you have healed completely.
What are the risks of spinal fusion surgery?
As with any surgery, there are always potential risks involved. It is important for you to weigh these risks against the benefits of the surgery. These may include:
- Infection: you will likely receive antibiotics before, during and sometimes after surgery to prevent infection
- Persistent pain: some people will experience ongoing pain at the graft site
- Continuing symptoms: in some cases your original symptoms may return
- Nerve damage: this complication is very rare
- Pseudarthrosis: only occurs when there is not enough bone formation
It is important to discuss any complications you may experience with your doctor.
Who do I trust to perform this surgery?
Now that you have answered the question, what is spinal fusion, you may be asking who to see for this procedure. The qualified experts at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group can help. Give us a call for a consultation today. Read more about spinal fusion surgery here: Minimally Invasive Posterior Spinal Fusion.