What Is Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure in which two spinal vertebrae are permanently joined together in order to prevent the motion between them. Patients may consider undergoing this procedure in order to repair broken vertebrae, stabilize pre-existing weaknesses in the spine, correct spinal deformities, and/or stabilize a herniated disk. It can also be used to remove excess bone tissue that is putting unwanted pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.  Additionally, pain symptoms brought on by these problems are also often alleviated. Spinal fusion employs techniques that are meant to mimic the natural processes often seen in bone healing; this includes using bone grafts or bonelike material to create the fusion. However, metal components may be used as well. 

BEFORE Spinal Fusion Surgery PROCEDURE

Before considering spinal fusion as an option, the patient must first consult with their doctor to determine if the procedure is the most appropriate route. Individuals with fractures and injuries in the spine, arthritis in the spine, a slipped vertebra, or a weakened spine caused by a tumor or an infection, are eligible for the surgery. In addition to correcting of these issues, the procedure may also alleviate back pain caused by one or more of these problems.

In preparation for the surgery, the patient may be asked to cease taking certain medications as well as drinking alcohol. The patient will also need to share his or her detailed medical history with the doctor.   

How it is performed

The procedure is done under general anesthesia so the patient is unconscious and feels no pain. An incision is made to make the spine viewable while the patient is lying face down. The bone grafts that will be used in the surgery are usually harvested from the pelvis of the patient. There may be times, however, when foreign bone material or synthetic bone is used. Fusing the vertebrae requires placing the bone graft between them and using metal rods, plates, and screws to hold them in place.   

Recovery

A patient that has undergone spinal fusion will need to remain in the hospital for a few days to be monitored by healthcare professionals. Pain medications will be administered during recovery time and techniques will be taught to the patient that will help them learn to move around properly following the procedure. The doctor may recommend wearing a cast or back brace for extended period of time to help with recovery and to ensure the progress made by the spinal fusion is not reversed by irregular movement. 

Potential Risks

Spinal fusion is regarded as a very effective and safe procedure but it can sometimes result in adverse side effects and risks depending on the age and health of the patient. These include infection, excessive bleeding, possibly clotting, nerve injury, rejection of the bone graft, and damage to surrounding bone.  There is also a risk of lingering pain in the region of interest.  This may result in additional spinal surgery being necessary. 

Cost for Spinal Fusion Surgery

US from $31,480
India from $5,500

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