Ease back pain with the help of Universal Care Surgery Center.

The most common type of spine surgery performed in the United States, spinal fusion restores the stability of the backbone while limiting motion to ease pain.

  • Fusion surgery involves the joining (“fusing”) of two or more vertebrae.
  • Bone graft material is then placed in the affected area to further stabilize the spine.
  • Partial replacement (hip hemiarthroplasty)
  • Total replacement of the joint and its accompanying socket (acetabulum) with a prosthetic socket


Preparing for Spinal Fusion Surgery

The purpose of a spinal fusion is to limit motion in a vulnerable part of the spine to ease pain. Prior to surgery, tests will be done to determine if there are sources of a patient’s back or neck pain. The overall stability of the spine in areas other than where a fusion will be done will also be evaluated.

Why Spinal Fusion is Considered

Fusion surgery is a possibility when there is a clearly identified structural problem with the spine. It also becomes a consideration when conservative treatments like the use of heat or ice and various pain or anti-inflammatory medications are no longer effective. Fusion surgery may also be performed to ease severe pain or persistent discomfort related to:

  • Disc degeneration (wear) or herniation
  • Slipped discs (spondylolisthesis)
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Spinal fractures
  • Infections or tumors

Where a Spinal Fusion is Performed

Lumbar (lower back) spinal fusion is the most common type of fusion surgery. A fusion may also be performed along any of the seven bones of the cervical spine (neck) or within the middle or upper portion of the spine.

How Spinal Fusion Surgery is Performed

Spinal fusion can be performed from the back (posterior side) or from the front (anterior) side of the spine, depending on where the affected area is located. Performed under general anesthesia, the surgery can be done with traditional open techniques that involve larger incisions and the movement of nearby muscles. It can also be done with minimally invasive techniques that require smaller incisions and less disruption to nearby tissues.

Application of Bone Graft Material

Bone material is required to permanently join adjacent bones of the spine together. Referred to as a bone graft, this material may be man-made (synthetic) or be harvested from other parts of the body, usually the hip area. Cadaver bone (allograft) is sometimes used, but most fusion procedures use artificial materials. Hardware that includes screws and cages is used to stabilize the spine until the bone graft material develops into actual bone.

Recovery from Spinal Fusion Surgery

Immediately after surgery, medications are used to manage pain. While some initial rest is needed, patients are often encouraged to move as much as possible to maintain or restore muscle strength. Physical therapy that includes appropriate exercises is usually recommended to further restore mobility.

Complete recovery from spinal fusion surgery can take a few months. The trend towards minimally invasive surgical procedures, however, often means a shorter recovery time for patients and fewer risks. Statistically, spinal fusion has a high success rate.