|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative Names Return to topVertebral interbody fusion; Posterior spinal fusion; Arthrodesis; Anterior spinal fusion; Spine surgery - spinal fusion
Definition Return to top
Spinal fusion is surgery to fuse spine bones (vertebrae) that cause you to have back problems.
Fusing means two bones are permanently placed together so there is no longer movement between them. Spinal fusion is usually done along with other surgical procedures of the spine.
Description Return to top
You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).
Your surgeon has several choices about where to make the incision (cut).
Other surgery, such as a diskectomy, laminectomy, or a foraminotomy, is almost always done first.
The surgeon will use a graft (such as bone) to hold (or fuse) the bones together permanently. There are several different ways of fusing vertebrae together:
The surgeon may get the graft from different places:
The vertebrae are often also fixed together with screws, plates, or cages. They are used to keep the vertebrae from moving until the bone grafts fully healed.
Surgery can take 3 to 4 hours.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Spinal fusion may be recommended for:
Risks Return to top
Risks for any surgery are:
Risks for spine surgery are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
You will need to stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 days after surgery. The repaired spine should be kept in the right position to maintain alignment.
If the surgery involved a surgical cut in the chest, a chest tube may be used to drain fluid build-up. The tube is usually removed after 24 to 72 hours.
You will receive pain medicines in the hospital. You may have a pump where you control how much pain medicine you get, you may get shots or intravenous (IV) injections, or you may take pain pills.
You will be taught how to move properly and how to sit, stand, and walk. You'll be told to use a "log-rolling" technique when getting out of bed. This means that you move your entire body at once, without twisting your spine.
You may not be able to eat for 2 to 3 days and will be fed through an IV. When you leave the hospital, you may need to wear a back brace or cast.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Spine surgery will often provide full or partial relief of symptoms.
Future spine problems are possible for all patients after spine surgery. After spinal fusion, the area that was used together can no longer move. Therefore, the spinal column above and below the fusion are more likely to be stressed when the spine moves, and have problems later. Also, if you needed more than one kind of back surgery (such as laminectomy and spinal fusion), you may have more of a chance of future problems.
References Return to top
Weinstein JN, Tosteson TD, Lurie JD, et al. Surgical versus nonsurgical therapy for lumbar spinal stenosis. N Engl J Med. 2008;358:794-810.
Katz JN, Harris MB. Clinical practice. Lumbar spinal stenosis. N EnglJMed. 2008;358(8):818-825.
Chou R, Qaseem A, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147(7):478-491.
Hedequist DJ. Surgical treatment of congenital scoliosis. Orthop Clin North Am. 2007;38(4):497-509.
Curlee PM. Other disorders of the spine. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 41.Update Date: 3/4/2009 Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.