Spinal Fusion is the procedure undertaken for joining two or more vertebrae permanently through surgery. It is also known as spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis. It is a treatment done to prevent the painful motion of the vertebras and requires the use of an artificial bone tissue or a bone tissue from another person or the patient himself. Metal plates, screws and cages can also be used to immobilize the vertebras.
When is it done?
There are a number of situations when a spinal fusion surgery can be considered by the patients, which include:
- Chronic pain in the lower back due to degenerative disk
- Unstable spine due to tumors
- Fracture or breakage of one or more vertebrae
- Herniated disk
Spinal fusion not only helps ease the pain but also saves the spinal cord from further damage. It is also required by people with other spinal deformities.
The risks associated with Spinal fusion can be as follows:
- Blood clots
- Spinal nerve damage
- Problem with swallowing
Generally it takes 6 to 12 months for the bones to fuse and during that period of the time the patient must avoid heavy activities and habits like smoking as they may delay the healing process while causing further discomfort. Bracing may also be advised by the surgeon. If the fusion does not, unfortunately, take place, a repetition of the surgery may also be needed. There are two techniques in spinal fusion –1) posterolateral fusion, which involves the placement of the bone graft in the transverse processes of the back followed by fixing them with screws and the other one being, and 2) interbody fusion which involves the placement of the bone graft in the invertebral fibrocartilage area.
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