What is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that permanently unites two or more vertebrae in your spine to increase stability, repair a deformity, or relieve discomfort. It unites certain bones in the neck (cervical spine) and also protects nerves, ligaments, and muscles from being stretched.
If you suffer leg or arm discomfort in addition to back pain, your surgeon may recommend a decompression procedure (laminectomy). This treatment entails the removal of bone and diseased tissues that are placing pressure on the spinal nerves.
Fusion will reduce spinal flexibility, however, most spinal fusions involve relatively minor parts of the spine and do not significantly impede mobility. The vast majority of patients will not experience a reduction in range of motion. Your surgeon will discuss with you if your specific treatment may affect your spine's flexibility or range of motion.
Bone can be extracted from other parts of your body or received from a bone bank (a bone graft). The bone is utilized to connect neighboring vertebrae by forming a bridge (adjacent). This bone transplant promotes the formation of new bone. It is also possible to employ man-made (artificial) fusion materials. Metal implants can be used to keep the vertebrae together until new bone forms between them:
Metal plates that are screwed into the bone can be used to connect neighboring vertebrae.
The spine can be fused when an entire vertebra is removed.
The surrounding vertebrae can be joined when a spinal disc is removed.
An incision on the front (anterior) or rear (posterior) of the neck might be used for this surgery.
Why is Spinal Fusion done?
Spinal deformities spinal fusion can aid in the correction of spinal abnormalities such as lateral spine curvature (scoliosis).
Instability or weakening of the spine If there is irregular or excessive mobility between two vertebrae, your spine may become unstable. This is a typical side effect of severe spine arthritis. In such circumstances, spinal fusion can be utilized to restore spinal stability.
Disk herniation After removing a damaged (herniated) disc, spinal fusion may be utilized to stabilize the spine.
Spinal fusion is a relatively risk-free treatment. However, like with any operation, there is the possibility of complications.
Complications that might arise include:
Inadequate wound healing
Clots in the blood
Blood vessel or nerve damage in and around the spine
Pain at the location where the bone transplant is extracted
Before surgery, you may need to cut your hair around the surgical site and clean the area with a specific soap or antiseptic. In addition, the surgical team may request that a swab sample be taken to detect any dangerous germs in your nose. Before the procedure, you may be advised to stop using certain drugs.
During the spinal fusion procedure
Surgeons do spinal fusions while you are sedated, so you are completely asleep during the process. Spinal fusion surgery is performed using a number of procedures devised by surgeons. The procedure employed by the surgeon is determined by the position of the fused vertebrae, the purpose for the spinal fusion, and, in certain cases, your overall health and body form.
In general, the technique entails the following steps:
Incision: The surgeon creates an incision in one of three places to obtain access to the vertebrae being fused: in your neck or back directly over your spine, on either side of your spine, or in your belly or throat so that your surgeon may reach the spine from the front.
Preparation of a bone transplant: The bone grafts that actually connect two vertebrae may originate from a bone bank or from your own body, generally from your pelvis. If your own bone is being used, the surgeon will create an incision above your pelvic bone, extract a little amount of it, and then seal the wound.
Fusion: To permanently fuse the vertebrae together, the surgeon inserts bone graft material between the vertebrae. While the bone graft cures, metal plates, screws, or rods may be used to help keep the vertebrae together.
Some surgeons employ a synthetic material instead of bone transplants in some circumstances. These synthetic chemicals enhance bone development and hasten vertebral fusion.
Following spinal fusion, a two to three-day hospital stay is commonly necessary. You may suffer some pain and discomfort depending on the location and degree of your operation, but the pain is typically effectively controlled with drugs.
If you have any of the following symptoms after returning home, visit a doctor immediately:
Tenderness, redness, or swelling
Drainage of wounds
A fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C)
The afflicted bones in your spine may take many months to repair and fuse together. Your doctor may advise you to wear a brace for a period of time to maintain your spine properly aligned. Physical therapy may educate you how to move, sit, stand, and walk in such a way that your spine is properly positioned.
Why Do You Need This Procedure?
If medications, physical therapy, and other therapies (such as steroid injections) have not alleviated your back pain, this procedure may be a possibility. Doctors normally only prescribe treatment if they know exactly what's causing the condition.
If your back discomfort is caused by one of the following, spinal fusion may help you feel better:
Disease of the degenerative disc (the space between discs narrows; sometimes they rub together spaces)
Breakage (broken spinal bone)
Scoliosis is a condition in which your spine slopes unnaturally to one side.
Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
Spondylolisthesis (forward shifting of a spinal disk)
Tumors or inflammation of the spine
Spinal fusion is frequently required to keep the spine stable following an accident, infection, or malignancy.
When symptoms such as arm numbness or weakness indicate that a neck condition is causing a pinched nerve (radiculopathy), surgery may help you feel better sooner. However, it is unclear if surgery is superior to nonsurgical therapy in the long run. Furthermore, evidence shows that a sophisticated operation that incorporates fusion is not superior to a simpler procedure for relieving nerve pressure.
Neck surgery will not assist you if you only have neck discomfort and no evidence of a pinched nerve.
It is critical that you carefully follow any directions your doctor gives you regarding the warning symptoms of blood clots and infection. These issues are more likely to arise in the first few weeks following surgery. Clots of blood form. The following are warning signals of a probable blood clot:
Calf, ankle, or foot swelling
Tenderness or redness that may occur above or below the knee
A blood clot may occasionally move through the circulation and end up in the lungs. If this occurs, you may have severe chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and coughing. If you see any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right once.
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