What is it?
A spinal fusion surgery is a surgical technique used to join two or more vertebrae. Supplementary bone tissue, either from the patient or a donor, is used in conjunction with the body’s natural bone growth processes to fuse the vertebrae.
Fusing of the spine is used primarily to eliminate the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the faulty vertebrae themselves.
What causes it?
Spinal fusion may be a viable treatment option for a number of different conditions including:
- degenerative disc disease
- spinal disc herniation
- discogenic pain
- spinal tumor
- vertebral fracture
- kyphosis (i.e., Scheuermann’s disease)
- Posterior Rami Syndrome
- other degenerative spinal conditions
- any condition that causes instability of the spine
How does procedure work?
During a spinal fusion, a bone graft is placed between two or more vertebrae causing the vertebrae to grow together, or fuse.
In general, a lumbar spinal fusion surgery is most effective for those conditions involving only one vertebral segment. Although fusing two segments of the spine may be a reasonable option for treatment of pain. Most patients will not notice any limitation in motion after a one-level spine fusion.
There are two main types of lumbar spinal fusion, which may be used in conjunction with each other:
Posterolateral fusion places the bone graft between the transverse processes in the back of the spine. These vertebrae are then fixed in place with screws and/or wire through the pedicles of each vertebra attaching to a metal rod on each side of the vertebrae.
Interbody fusion places the bone graft between the vertebra in the area usually occupied by the intervertebral disc. In preparation for the spinal fusion, the disc is removed entirely, for example in ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion). A device may be placed between the vertebra to maintain spine alignment and disc height. The intervertebral device may be made from either plastic or titanium. The fusion then occurs between the endplates of the vertebrae. Using both types of fusion is known as 360-degree fusion.
Sierra Neurosurgery Group Resources
The physicians of Sierra Neurosurgery Group are all well trained and experienced in lumbar fusion surgery. With all surgeons in the practice board certified or board eligible, complex spinal surgeries are an integral part of their training.