Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones in the spine (vertebrae). It is essentially a “welding” process that fuses together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone, 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 instrumentation provides additional spinal stability while facilitating the process of fusion. By limiting the motion at the fused segment, it’s easier for the bones to fuse more effectively. These procedures are used to restore stability to the spine, correct deformity, and bridge space created by the removal a spinal element.
Some spinal instrumentation include rods, plates, hooks, and cages, as well as:
- Pedicle screws: These screws grip a spinal segment and act as firm anchor points to connect with a rod, preventing motion at the segments being fused.
- Interbody devices: These devices are simple structures that support the bones while new bone growth occurs through and around them.
Spinal instrumentation continues to develop as technology advances and is not required with all spinal fusions. The right treatment and procedure for you will depend on the nature and location of your disease.