Extracted from Augusta Orthopedic
Another type of spine surgery is spinal fusion. The diseased disc
and lamina are first removed. Pieces of bone are removed from your
hip (donor) and are placed along the spine and between the vertebrae. This is called
bone grafting. When the bone heals, this is called a bone fusion
and the vertebrae no longer move separately. This fusion takes three
months to heal.
Indications for Spinal Fusion
When a disc ruptures, the hydraulic effect of the disc is disrupted.
The facet joints (the joints between two vertebrae), muscles, and
surrounding ligaments are required to take over the job of the disc.
If the disc does not heal, it is said to be degenerative. A degenerative
disc is not able to support the weight of the body and the space
between vertebra narrows. When the space between two vertebra narrows,
so do the holes (or foramen) that the nerves pass through. This
causes the nerve to be pinched and results in leg and/or back pain.
Over time the facet joints become arthritic, get larger, and develop
This is called spondylolisis and narrows the formen even further.
Finally, as the facet joints become arthritic and lose their cartilage,
they begin to slide on one another. This allows one vertebrae to
"slip" on the other, narrowing the hole even more. This kind of
slipping and narrowing is a dynamic process and is worse when sitting
or riding in a car and is called spondylolisthesis.
When a nerve is pinched by a ruptured disc, the disc material can
be removed to relieve pressure on the nerve (laminectomy
and discectomy). When the
disc is degenerative and the nerve is pinched by bone (from narrowing
of the disc space and foramen, spondylolisis, and slipping or spondlylolisthesis),
spinal fusion is indicated to relieve pressure on the nerve and
keep the vertebra from slipping.
With the development of fusion cages,
it is now much easier to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve, keep
the vertebra from slipping, and getting the fusion to heal. The
fusion cages can be put in from the back or from the front. We prefer
to put our cages in from the back because, the nerves can be seen
better and protected better during surgery and the holes (foramen)
can be made bigger allowing the nerve more room.
Further information can be found at:
This surgical procedure is used when there is severe enough disc
degeneration and narrowing that more space is needed between the
bones of the spine.
One reader details her spinal fusion.
One of our readers shares a success story on spinal cord fusion.
Looking for another type of treatment? Valley Pain Centers may have
"Cages" Instead of
Smaller, more flexible than rods, could these be the answer to traditional
Leg Pain After
The Neurology and Neurosurgery Forum offers you a place to get answers
to your fusion questions.
Spinal fusion is one of several treatments for scoliosis.
Southern California Orthopedic Institute defines scoliosis and fusion
with excellent graphics.
Information from Spine Universe.com
& BAK Cage Surgery
Information from Augusta Orthopedic Surgery