Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones of the spine (vertebrae). Fusing provides a great deal of stability for the spine. It is essentially a “welding” process that fuses together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. This is achieved by either by using existing bone to make a bridge between adjacent vertebrae or by using metal implants (rods, hooks, screws, etc.) to secure the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them.
Spinal fusion has been performed for decades. As a result, several different techniques have been developed that may be used to fuse the spine. There are also different “approaches” your surgeon can take for your procedure. Depending on the nature and location of your disease, the right procedure for you can be recommended by your doctor
This procedure approaches your spine from the front. It requires an incision in the lower abdomen. With this approach, the organs and blood vessels must be moved to the side. This allows your surgeon to access the spine without moving the nerves.
This procedure approaches your spine from your back or side (lateral approach). With this approach, your surgeon gains access to your spine by removing the bone (lamina) and retracting the nerves. Then the back of the disk can be removed and a spacer inserted from the back of the spine.
Minimally invasive techniques also have been developed.
These allow fusions to be performed with smaller incisions.