Spinal fusion is a type of spine surgery that is often performed on the neck and lower back. A healthy spine is made up of hard bones (vertebrae) with soft cushioning (discs) between them. If you’re having back or neck pain and have tried other treatments, you and your doctor may want to consider spinal fusion.
The goal of a spinal fusion is to join two or more vertebrae together using bone grafts to stabilize the spine and decrease pain. While spinal fusion limits the movement of those bones, it can sometimes increase your mobility as your pain is alleviated.
Common conditions treated with spinal fusion surgery
There are many potential reasons to consider spinal fusion; among them include:
- Back or neck pain due to spinal compression, nerve impingement
- Diseased discs
- Herniated discs
- Fractured vertebrae
- Spinal curves (scoliosis, kyphosis)
- Scheuermann’s Disease
- Spondylolisthesis or vertebral slippage
- Trauma to the spine
- Unstable spine due to infection or tumor
Types of spinal fusion surgery
There are several types of spinal fusion surgery. The type of procedure performed will depend on the patient’s individual condition, as well as the location of the pain:
- Cervical Fusion is performed on the neck
- Thoracic Fusion is performed on the chest
- Lumbar Fusion is performed on the lower back
Your spinal fusion surgery consultation
The neurosurgeons at Kansas Spine & Specialty Hospital are devoted to helping you find the best course of treatment for your back or neck pain. When you are in pain, a doctor visit might seem intimidating. We want you to be comfortable with your neurosurgeon, and encourage you to bring a list of specific questions you want to ask. During your consultation, the neurosurgeon will review your medical history and diagnostic results, and address your questions.
What to expect from spinal fusion surgery
During the operation, an incision is made in the neck, back or abdomen. Bone, debris, bone growths, lamina, and/or the damaged vertebral disc may be cleared from the spine, creating more space and relieving pressure on the spinal nerves. The surgeon will then take the proper steps to correct the patient’s specific problem.
Bone grafts may then be placed in the space or along the side of the spine. If additional support is needed, metal hardware (including pins or screws), may be used to steady the spine as it fuses. The incision is closed to finalize the surgery.
The grafts will grow into solid bone, fusing together the vertebrae. Patients may have to wear a back brace post-surgery, which will support your spine and keep the vertebrae from moving as the grafts fuse together.
Hospital stay after spinal fusion may be from one day up to a week depending on the type of fusion, followed by recovery at home which can take from three months up to a year. Post-operative regimen typically includes pain medication as directed, strengthening exercises and physical therapy.
We want to ensure your stay with us is as comfortable as possible for you and your loved ones. Click here for information on what you can expect during your stay at Kansas Spine & Specialty Hospital.