What is Spinal Fusion?Spinal Fusion is a surgical method which is used in order to stop the unwanted motion between the small bones (known as Vertebrae) of the spine . they are fused together in this procedure. Unnecessary stretching of nerves, ligaments and muscles is also prevented with the help of this procedure. It is similar to the welding procedure that is done in the industry. As some bone grafts are placed around the spine, the bones do not weld immediately. Similar to healing of fractures, it takes some time before the vertebrae’s actually join together.
A bone graft , which is a kind of bone materials is used in almost all spinal fusions to help promote the fusion. Either from the patient (this is called as Autografting) or a donor (known as Allografting), the complementary bone tissues is taken which are used to fuse the vertebrae in this procedure. These grafts are used in concurrence with the body's natural bone growth (known as osteoblastic process). Elimination of the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the vertebrae themselves is the main aim of the procedure. In many cases, to hold the spine still surgeons use external hardware such as plates, screws and rods. This procedure helps in increasing the rate of successful healing and is called internal fixation.
To locate the exact location of the problematic vertebrae’s imaging tests like as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used.
Types of spinal fusionThere are two main types of Spinal fusion procedures.
- Posterolateral fusion: In this procedure the placement of the bone graft is done in the back of the spine between the transverse processes. These vertebrae for proper fixation are then fixed with screws and/or wire.
- Interbody fusion: In this method the placement of the bone graft is done between the vertebras in the area usually occupied by the intervertebral disc. Based on the approach of the incision there are three types of interbody fusions:
- Anterior lumbar interbody fusion- in this an anterior abdominal incision is made to access the disc.
- Posterior lumbar interbody fusion- in this posterior incision is made to access the disc.
- Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion- in this posterior incision on one side of the spine.is made to access the disc.
- • In cases when both types of fusion procedures are used, it is known as 360-degree fusion.
When is Spinal Fusion recommended?Spinal fusion is done for one of the following potential reasons:
- Spondylolisthesis- The condition in which a fracture causes one vertebra to slip forward on another.
- Scoliosis- to correct a deformity i.e. spinal curves or slippages
- To treat a fractured vertebra in the spine
- To treat problems caused by some infections or tumours.
- Instability Treatment - this refers to abnormal motion between two or more vertebrae. Back or neck pain or potential irritation or damage to adjacent nerves is caused by instability.
- To treat some cervical disc herniation’s- In this condition the soft inner nucleus of the spine is ruptured and is forced into the spaces between the vertebrae through the outer annulus.
- Degenerative disk disease
- Spinal Stenosis- narrowing of the spinal canal surrounding the spinal cord results in this disorder and eventually it compresses the cord.
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