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Explaining Spinal Fusion
Friday, October 19, 2018

A spinal fusion is a procedure that involves joining two or more vertebrae into a single structure. The surgery is performed to cease movement that transpires between two bones and curtail debilitating discomfort in the process.

Once the fusion occurs, they become immobile, which is the intention of the surgery. This enables the individual to avoid expanding nerves that are in close proximity to the spine, as well as any ligaments and muscles that created the pain in the first place.

Why Is It Needed?

Surgery is generally treated as the last resort. Therefore, in the instance that medication, physical therapy and alternative treatments, like steroid injections are not able to assuage the person’s agony, then surgery may be required.

Surgeons will only recommend an operation if they are able to identify what is causing the issue. For instance, spinal fusion may be performed in cases where the patient is suffering from degenerative disk disease. This means that the space between the disks contracts and eventually creates friction.

Another reason that will constitute a spinal fusion is when the patient suffers a fracture, which may be due to an accident. If they damage fragments of their spinal bone, then surgery will be obligatory. Scoliosis, which is when the spine curves abnormally to one side, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) and spondylolisthesis i.e. the forward shifting of a spinal disk are other reasons for a spinal fusion.

How Is It Performed?

In terms of the actual procedure, spinal fusion surgery can be executed using a couple of methods. The first one is known as anterior lumbar interbody fusion, while the second is called posterior fusion.

In an anterior lumbar fusion, the doctor makes an incision through the patient’s belly, whereas a posterior fusion involves the surgeon performing the surgery from the back. Once an incision has been made, the surgeon maneuvers in a way that the spine becomes apparent.

The next and most important step is to identify the joint (singular or plural depending on a case by case basis) and removing these. Typically, surgeons use tools such as screws, road or grafts from another part of the bodyto link the disks firmly and ensure that they are not moving.

More specifically, a bone graft used in a spinal fusion is generally extracted from the patient’s hip or pelvis. If the bone is taken from another person entirely, then that instance is called a donor graft. Also, in some cases, surgeons place a substance called a bone morphogenetic protein into the spine in order to stimulate germination of the bone.

What Does Recovery Involve?

Once the spinal fusion is complete, the patient is required to stay at the hospital for a number of days. This rehabilitation period is critical since doctors monitor the condition of their patients, who are still connected to a number of machines. Examples include a machine called an IV, which is inserted into the patient’s arm to disseminate fluids, antibiotics and other helpful agents. In addition, patients may also be connected to an epidural catheter.

If you know someone who is suffering from spinal issues, you may want to recommend Advanced Neurosurgery to them.

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