What Is A Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a surgery performed to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in the spine together for stability, eliminating motion. It is designed to simulate the natural healing process of the bones in the body.
There are three common approaches to fusion surgery: posterior (back) approach and anterior (front) approach and a combined anterior/posterior approach. The recommended approach is dependent on location and type of curve. Regardless of the approach, there is early return to function with bony healing taking 3 to 6 months. A brace may also be recommended.
Posterior Surgical Method
The posterior method can be executed to focus on any region of the spinal column: cervical, thoracic, or lumbar. Dr. LaRocca will then surgically expose the bony structures of the spine by going through the back. Next, screws are positioned into the bone. Rods are also inserted to give durability. A laminectomy is often performed in cases where spinal stenosis is found. Once the rods are in place, graft material will be inserted through the spine after the top layer of bone is taken away to expose the soft healing bone underneath, which encourages the vertebrae to join together.
Anterior Surgical Method
An anterior method might be required if there is a situation where there is extra stability needed for realignment in any area of the spine. Compared to a posterior approach, this method provides more stability and support, which results in a better probability of fusion and healthier spinal alignment.
This procedure involves coming towards the spine from the front of the body and taking out the vertebral discs which are located between the impacted vertebrae.
Once the discs between the impacted vertebrae are taken out, the vacant disc area will then be filled with bone graft substance or cages. These cages are normally filled with bone graft matter to allow the vertebrae to link together. Rarely is the bone graft material extracted from the hip. It may also be donated from a cadaver or consist of a number of biologically active substances that encourage bone growth.
Why Are Spinal Fusions Performed?
Spinal fusion may be performed to correct a deformity or provide relief from back pain. Dr. LaRocca may recommend a spinal fusion procedure to treat conditions including:
- Adult degenerative scoliosis
- Adult lumbar spondylolisthesis
- Broken vertebrae that are severe enough to cause spinal instability
- Deformity of the spine resulting from conditions such as scoliosis
- Herniated disc
- Spinal weakness or instability from conditions such as arthritis (spondylosis).
The purpose of operative surgery is to greatly enhance well being. Back specialist Dr. LaRocca could advocate an operation in case of considerable weakness, incapacitating discomfort or when all other solutions have been explored.
What Are The Different Types of Spinal Fusion Surgeries?
There are several types of fusion surgery available depending on the condition and its location of the spine. Dr. LaRocca and the experienced team at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute will help patients determine the best surgical options. Types of spinal fusion offered include: