Spinal Fusion (Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar)

Dur­ing this pro­ce­dure, the sur­geon per­ma­nent­ly joins two or more ver­te­brae in the spine. The ver­te­brae will grow togeth­er to form a sin­gle, sol­id bone. Spinal fusion is com­mon­ly per­formed in the neck and low­er back, and may be used to cor­rect a wide range of prob­lems in the spine such as spondy­lolis­the­sis, in which weak­ened joints or frac­tured bones have allowed a ver­te­bra to slip for­ward and pinch a nerve root. In prepa­ra­tion for the pro­ce­dure, the patient is posi­tioned and gen­er­al anes­the­sia is admin­is­tered. The sur­geon cre­ates an inci­sion to access the lum­bar spine. The sur­geon removes the lam­i­na, the pro­tru­sion at the rear of the ver­te­bra. This is the por­tion of the ver­te­bra that cov­ers the nerve roots. Remov­ing the lam­i­na cre­ates more space for the nerve roots. Next, the sur­geon clears any bone or debris that may be press­ing against the nerve roots. This relieves pres­sure and pain. Next, the sur­geon places bone grafts against the ver­te­brae. The bone grafts may be har­vest­ed from the patien­t’s own body, typ­i­cal­ly from the pelvis, they may also be tak­en from anoth­er donor. The sur­geon inserts hard­ware to hold the ver­te­brae togeth­er. The sur­geon may uti­lize screws and rods or plates. When the pro­ce­dure is com­plete, the inci­sion is closed and ban­daged. The patient may be placed in a back brace to restrict move­ment of the spine. The patient will be able to leave the hos­pi­tal after two or three days. As the spine heals, the bone grafts will fuse with the ver­te­brae to cre­ate a sol­id, sta­ble mass of bone.