Spinal Fusion – How Is It Performed?

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By Dr. Kodeeswaran Marappan , Neurosurgery

What is a Spinal Fusion surgery?

Spinal Fusion is a surgical technique whereby the painful vertebrae are united or fused together to heal and grow into a solid, single bone. This process is similar to the welding in industries. However, Spinal fusion surgery does not join the vertebra instantly. Rather bone grafts have to be put around the spinal portion during the surgery enabling the body to correct the grafts in due course of time. This process is basically used to fix problems pertaining to the small bones in the vertebrae or the spine.

Why is it required?

  1. To treat the broken or fractured vertebra.
  2. To correct the deformities, for instance, slippages or spinal curves.
  3. To get rid of motor pain (the pain caused during body movements).
  4. To treat potential spinal instability (instability can be defined as an excessive or abnormal motion between each vertebra).
  5. To cure damaged cervical or neck discs (damage to the discs present within the spine bones).

How is this surgery performed?

There are a number of surgical procedures available for fusing the spine but all of them require placing a bone graft in between the vertebrae.

  1. Posterior approach- The graft is placed from the back.
  2. Anterior approach- The graft is put from the frontal area.
  3. A combination of the aforementioned methods.
  4. If it’s the portion of the neck, an anterior approach should be opted for.
  5. If it’s the lumbar (related to the lower portion of the back) area, the posterior approach is considered suitable.

How long does it take to recover?

The post- surgical pain in a spinal fusion surgery is usually quite severe. Therefore, it takes a longer time to recover in this case (about one-three months).