As the name implies, spinal fusion involves fusing together two of more vertebrae. This surgical procedure uses bone grafts, as well as metal rods and screws.
Among the conditions that may be corrected with spinal fusion are: vertebrae injuries, slipped or herniated discs, abnormal curvatures of the spine (including kyphosis and scoliosis), and a weak or unstable spine resulting from tumors or infections.
By eliminating or reducing motion between vertebral segments, the procedure can significantly reduce pain in many patients. Spinal fusion may also stop the progression of spinal deformities, such as scoliosis. While some flexibility may be lost as a result of the fusion, most spinal fusions are performed on very small segments of the spine so limited movement is not usually an issue.
The material most commonly used in spinal fusion is human bone—either taken from the patient (autogenous bone) or harvested from a donor (allograft bone). While autogenous bone may fuse together more readily, that choice involves additional surgery to remove bone from the patient’s hip. Allograft bone may easily be obtained from bone banks.
Following bone grafting, the vertebrae must be held immobile with metal rods and screws to allow fusion to occur. In some cases, external bracing and/or casting may also be necessary.
The videos listed will acquaint you with the various types of IBF (interbody fusion) approaches, including anterior, posterior, transforminal and axial. A lumbar interbody fusion may be performed through a minimally invasive surgery approach known as AxiaLIF (Trans1).
In all cases, the damaged disc is removed, releasing the pressure on the affected nerve(s) and relieving the pain. The space created by removing the disc is replaced with bone graft material, sometimes through the use of interbody cages or rods. The bone graph may be self-donated by the patient, or come from a bone donor.
The bone graft fusion provides the immobilization necessary and therefore replaces the metal rods and screws of traditional spinal fusion, as well as post-operative back braces.