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Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones of the spine (vertebrae). It is essentially a “welding” process. The basic idea is to fuse together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. Spinal fusion is major surgery, usually lasting several hours. There are different methods of spinal fusion.

Bone is taken from the pelvic bone or from a bone bank. The bone is used to make a bridge between vertebrae that are next to each other. This bone graft helps new bone grow.

Metal implants are usually used to hold the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them.

Spinal fusion may be done if you have:

  • Injury or fractures to the bones in the spine
  • Weak or unstable spine caused by infections or tumors
  • Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which one vertebrae slips forward on top of another
  • Abnormal curvatures, such as those from scoliosis or kyphosis
  • Arthritis in the spine, such as spinal stenosis.

Spinal Fusion Procedure

A spine fusion surgery involves using bone graft to cause two vertebral bodies to grow together into one long bone. Bone graft can be taken from the patient’s hip (autograft bone) during the spine fusion surgery, harvested from cadaver bone (allograft bone), or manufactured (synthetic bone graft substitute). The surgical procedure of spinal fusion takes several hours to complete.

Cervical Spinal Fusion

Cervical spinal fusion (arthrodesis) is a surgery that joins selected bones in the neck (cervical spine ). There are different methods of doing a cervical spinal fusion:

Bone can be taken from elsewhere in your body or obtained from a bone bank (a bone graft). The bone is used to make a bridge between vertebrae that are next to each other (adjacent). This bone graft stimulates the growth of new bone. Man-made (artificial) fusion materials may also be used.

  • Metal implants can be used to hold the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them.
  • Metal plates can be screwed into the bone, joining adjacent vertebrae.
  • An entire vertebra can be removed, and the spine then fused.
  • A spinal disc can be removed and the adjacent vertebrae fused.
  • This procedure can be done through an incision on the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the neck.

What is Spinal Decompression Surgery ?

Spinal Decompression Surgery. Spinal decompression surgery is a general term that refers to various procedures intended to relieve symptoms caused by pressure, or compression, on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Bulging or collapsed disks, thickened joints, loosened ligaments and bony growths can narrow the spinal canal and the spinal nerve openings (foramen), causing irritation.

Symptoms of spinal nerve compression include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness

In severe cases, pressure on the spinal nerves can cause paralysis and problems with bladder and/or bowel function.

  • Diskectomy : This involves removing a portion of a disk to relieve pressure on the nearby nerve roots
  • Laminectomy involves removal of the bony roof (lamina) over the spinal canal to decompress both sides (left and right) of the spinal canal.
  • Laminotomy is decompression of one side of the spinal canal (left or right) by removing a small portion of the laminar roof over the spinal canal, leaving the majority of the lamina intact.
  • Microsurgical laminoplasty is the decompression of the spinal canal using microsurgical techniques
  • Foraminotomy or foraminectomy
  • Both procedures are performed to expand the openings for the nerve roots to exit the spinal cord by removing some bone and other tissue. A foraminectomy generally refers to a procedure that removes a large amount of bone and tissue.
  • Osteophyte removal
  • This involves removing bony growths called osteophytes or bone spurs.
  • Corpectomy
  • This is surgery to remove the body of a vertebra, as well as the disks