Spinal Fusion: The Basics

The spine is one of the most essential parts of the human body, granting you the ability to maintain your posture, hold up your head and move your upper body. While each spinal vertebra should remain independent for a healthy function of the spine, there are cases where some of these individual components must be joined to relieve pain and promote healing. This is where a procedure known as spinal fusion comes in.

What is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure similar to welding, by which two or more vertebrae in the spine are fused together. Fusion occurs with help from a bone graft, i.e., the placement of borrowed bone or a synthetic substitute between the vertebrae to create a solid link. The purpose of this treatment is to eliminate movement in the affected area of the spine if motion is determined to be the primary source of the pain.

Common conditions that may benefit from spinal fusion include:

  • Herniated disk
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Scoliosis and kyphosis
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Weakness, instability, and fractures
  • Infections and tumors

While traditional spinal fusions typically span 6 to 7 hours, most modern techniques are minimally invasive, spanning as little as 2.5 hours. Moreover, all procedures limit motion only in the isolated treatment area, with little to no effect on overall spinal flexibility. Your ideal surgical approach will depend upon the nature and location of the problem.

Spinal fusion is a major surgery, which means that it remains inpatient to date – requiring a hospital stay of 3 to 4 days. Full recovery spans from 4 to 6 weeks to 4 to 6 months, depending on your age and level of health. Fortunately, most patients are able to walk and take care of their personal needs immediately after surgery.

As with any surgical procedure, there are various risks associated with spinal fusion both during and after the procedure. That is why it is critical to undergo an extensive evaluation by your spine specialist during the diagnosis stage to determine your candidacy and potential alternatives, if any.

Why Choose Us for Your Spinal Fusion?

The offices of Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management are home to one of the most skilled and experienced orthopedic spine specialists in the Sarasota/Bradenton area – Eric B. Sundberg, M.D:

  • Dr. Sundberg is a fellowship trained, board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in degenerative conditions and deformities of the spine and trained in minimally invasive surgical procedures. He has also contributed to numerous scientific journals on spinal and other musculoskeletal conditions.

Spine injuries and chronic conditions of any extent can significantly affect your body’s most basic functions, as well as place your spinal cord at a higher risk of damage. Fortunately, our dedicated spine physicians are here to restore your spine’s healthy structure and function and help you get back to your normal activities that much sooner.

If you have any questions about spinal fusion or have any other concerns regarding your spine, we welcome you to contact us today!