Spinal fusion: A surgical procedure used to correct problems with the 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 instrumentation provides additional spinal stability while making the process of fusion easier. By limiting the motion at the fused segment, it’s easier for the bones to fuse more effectively. These procedures restore stability to the spine, correct deformity, and bridge space created by the removal a spinal element.
Some spinal instrumentation includes 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. The segments being fused have limited motion with pedicle screws.
- 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. However, it is not required with all spinal fusions. There are also different “approaches” your surgeon can take for your procedure. The right treatment and procedure for you will depend on the nature and location of your disease.