What is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic back pain. The best clinical results are generally achieved in single-level fusion, although fusion at two levels may be performed in properly selected patients.
Almost all of the surgical treatment options for fusing the spine involve placement of a bone graft between the vertebrae
Bone grafts may be taken from the hip or from another bone in the same patient (autograft) or from a bone bank (allograft). Bone graft extenders and bone morphogenetic proteins (hormones that cause bone to grow inside the body) can also be used to reduce or eliminate the need for bone grafts.
Fusion hardware may or may not be used
Fusion sometimes involves the use of supplemental hardware (instrumentation) such as plates, screws, and cages. This fusing of the bone graft with the bones of the spine will provide a permanent union between those bones. Once that occurs, the hardware is no longer needed, but most patients prefer to leave the hardware in place rather than go through another surgery to remove it.
Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)
Fusion can sometimes be performed via smaller incisions through MIS techniques. The use of advanced fluoroscopy and endoscopy has improved the accuracy of incisions and hardware placement, minimizing tissue trauma while enabling an MIS approach.
MIS Fusion Procedures
- Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF and DLIF)
- Minimally Invasive Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
- Minimally Invasive Posterior Thoracic Fusion