What is a Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion refers to a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are permanently fused in order to eliminate movement between them. The techniques used to fuse the vertebrae may vary but is done in order to bring stability to a portion of the spine. Spinal fusion does have drawbacks as the vertebrae above and below the spinal fusion will face a greater amount of stress and degeneration as the surgically repaired portion no longer has any form of motion.
Types of Surgery
Cervical Spinal Fusion refers to a spinal fusion procedure done in the cervical (neck) portion of the spine. Some common surgical techniques include:
- Metal plates used to adjoin adjacent vertebrae.
- Entire vertebrae removed with the remaining vertebrae then infused
- A disc may be removed prior to fusion
- Temporary metal plates between two vertebrae as new bone grows
- Bone can be taken from another part of the body or bone bank and used to bridge the gap between vertebraes creating a fusion. Artificial materials may also be used in this way.
A short hospital stay is common following a spinal fusion procedure, particularly a cervical spinal fusion. The patient may also require a cervical collar (neck brace) for a period of time through recovery.
How Well Will it Work?
Cervical spinal fusion procedures are commonly successful in reducing the symptoms suffered by a patient prior to the procedure. However further surgery is sometimes required should complications arise.
What should I keep in mind?
There are inherent risks, though uncommon, with surgery such as infection, damage to nerves or blood vessels, blood clots, and anesthesia risks. Further surgeries may also be required if complications occur during recovery. A fusion may also fail or be damaged in some way. There is also inherent risk of nerve or spinal cord damage when operating in or around the spine.
Ways to Alleviate Pain From Metastatic Cancer
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be taken to reduce inflammation and pain in the time while still contemplating surgery. Post-surgery a patient should follow their surgeons rehabilitation plan for ways to alleviate pain.
Places to Get Help
Get excellent bone and joint treatment from the top doctors at OrthoArizona – Arizona Orthopaedic Associates.