Spinal Fusion: a spine supporting Fusion Surgery
Spinal fusion is a surgical fusion of two or more vertebrae. This process is also known as spondylosyndesis. This is a surgical formation of ankylosis (restriction of joint movement) between the vertebrae.
Spinal fusion mimics the healing process of fractured bones. The surgeon fuses two or more vertebrae together by placing a bone or a bone like substance between the vertebrae so that they are fused together. Titanium plates, screws, and rods are also used to hold the vertebrae in the correct place.
Why is the vertebra fused together?
The fusion of the vertebrae gives stability, treat spinal deformity and to reduce pain. Spinal fusion surgery is indicated under the following conditions:
- In cases of spinal deformities like scoliosis or spinal stenosis
- In people with spinal weakness and instability of vertebral joints, mainly caused due to the excessive motion of the joint. This instability of the joint further can cause arthritis.
- In people with a herniated disc.
Prior to the surgery, the doctor will ask you to follow certain advice. The advice given before the surgery are:
- To get a high-resolution MRI done.
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
- Avoid consuming alcohol
- Avoid stress
- Get pre surgery check-ups done and consult the doctor with the reports.
- Take medicine as directed by the doctor. Inform your doctor about the medicines that you are taking including herbal medicines and nutritional supplements.
- Shave the area of surgery before the surgery.
What to expect during the surgery?
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon chooses the best surgical procedure for the patient.
- The doctor makes an incision either in the neck or back, sometimes if the doctor finds to support the vertebra from the front then the doctor makes an incision in the throat or in the abdomen.
- After making an incision, the doctor then grafts a bone or synthetic material very much like a bone that enhances the bone growth and speeds up the process of spinal fusion. The bone for a bone graft is usually extracted from the pelvic bone.
- Once the graft is placed the spines are fused together with the help of titanium plates, rods, and screws.
Post-surgery the patient must stay in the hospital for the next three to four days, depending upon the site of surgery and the pain. The doctor advises a few tips:
- Take medicines as advised
- Do not lift heavy things
- Avoid nicotine rich things including tea, smoking or chewing tobacco until the wounds heal.
- Avoid alcohol until the wounds heal.
- Consult a physiotherapist to help you learn how to sit, stand or walk so that the alignment of the spine is not disturbed.
The complications post-surgery is:
- Delay in wound healing
- Blood clots
- Injury to nerve and blood vessels
When to see a doctor post-surgery?
If you experience the following symptoms after surgery, please visit your doctor. The symptoms are:
- Redness, swelling, and pain
- Fever with chills
- Pus near the site of incision