Spinal Fusion

Introduction

Spinal fusion, also known as spondylodesis, is a surgery that joins two or more vertebrae in a single structure to reduce the pressure on the spinal cord being put by the damaged discs. It is an effective treatment for a number of spinal disorders that cause pain in the back. It is done in different ways, depending on the location of the damage in the spine and minimally invasive surgery techniques are also used to minimize the pain and healing time after the operation. Advanced imaging techniques make the surgery more precise and a large number of people go for this surgery to get rid of the spinal disorders.


When is it performed?

Spinal fusion is performed in case of degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, and kyphosis. It is recommended after medications and alternative therapies have proven to be ineffective. The patient is assessed before recommending surgery and those with a serious disease or high BMI (body mass index) are not deemed fit for it.


How is it performed?

Spinal fusion is performed under general anesthesia by orthopedic surgeons. The spine is operated in two different ways. In the anterior lumbar interbody fusion, an incision is made through the belly and then the spine is viewed. The damaged parts are removed and bone graft (harvested from own body or donor’s) or synthetic substance is placed to connect the discs with or without the help of rods and screws. In the posterior fusion technique, incisions are made in the back.


Recovery

The patient is discharged two or three days after the surgery but the recovery takes longer. It can take six months or even longer for the back to heal fully. During this time, the patient has to go for regular checkups and also undergo physiotherapy to fasten the recovery. Precaution must be taken not to put a strain on the back.