Disk Fusion

A spine fusion is a procedure which is done in order to link two or more vertebrae together. If you are having a problem with the vertebrae, your doctor will tell you to have a spine fusion surgery in order to eliminate the motion which occurs within that portion of the spine. By linking the vertebrae together, your doctor will be eliminating the source of your back problem. It is important that you gather information about the spine fusion surgery before you decide to undergo it.

During the spine fusion surgery, your doctor will try to stimulate bone growth between the vertebrae. Once a new bone is formed, the vertebrae will be linked together, and there has to be no further movements between the fused segments.

Your surgeon may also recommend spinal instrumentation as a part of the process to perform spine fusion. Your surgeon will place a metal within your spine in order to hold the vertebral bones together. Spine instrumentation can be of different types. Your surgeon will tell you about a particular type of instrumentation depending on different factors such as your age, the underlying problems which are being treated, the number of levels of spine being fused etc.

There are many concerns with spine fusion surgery, but the overall procedure works very well for most patients. The common concerns of the surgery are:

  • The segments do not fuse- The most difficult part of this surgery is that it is hard to make the new bone grow. There are different ways in which you can stimulate new bone growth, but there are drawbacks too. Bone growth can happen using extra bone from the pelvis, or using bone chips from a donor, or using a manufactured bone substitute.
  • The vertebrae and discs next to the spine fusion develop problems- This can happen after many years of the surgery. When the bad segments of the spine are joined together, the segment next to the fusion has more forces applied. This degeneration can create problems after the spine fusion. This is the main reason why spinal disc replacement is being done.

The other risks can be infection and blood loss. These complications depend on the extent of the surgery being performed. You need to discuss all these problems with your doctor.

The other complications can be damage to the spinal cord or the nerves which exit the cord. These risks too will differ depending on the type of the surgery which was performed. In majority of patients improvements are seen after the surgery, but there are certain risks too.

If you are a smoker and you have spine fusion, then you have to stop smoking. The lack of new bone forming goes up to 500% in smokers, so there will be a spine fusion failure.

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