What does spinal fusion mean:
Spinal fusion for lower back pain is done in patients with spinal stenosis and instability or slippage of a vertebra over another (spondylolisthesis) or when altered disc cause pain and the surgeon may recommend replacing it and merge it to decrease pain intensity. If you have constant lower back pain or if the pain occurs frequently and interferes with sleep or with the performance of duties at work or daily activities, then you may need treatment by surgery in the lumbar spine. The merger can be done through the abdomen – anterior lumbar fusion or lower back – posterior lumbar fusion. The procedure has a success rate of 60-70%, but the intervention should be performed only if it is the last therapeutic alternative.
How spinal fusion is done:
Spinal fusion for lower back pain is usually done at the same time with a laminectomy. Bone grafts, usually taken from the bank bone, are placed in several vertebrae, which lamina has been removed. Over time (3 to 6 months) the bone graft will fuse with the vertebrae into one solid piece of bone. Metal plates and screws may be used to immobilize the fusion while it is created. Spinal fusion restores the normal height of the disc space and prevents abnormal movement.
Spinal fusion complications:
When surgery is done near the spine these complications can be very serious-if they occur, but there are usually very small chances this happen.Beside general complications such as anesthesia complications, bleeding, blood clots, lung problems, infection, persistent pain, there are nerve complications such as : nerve Injury, spinal cord injury, sexual dysfunction , implant and fusion complications such as: delayed union or non-union, hardware fracture, implant migration, pseud-arthrosis, transitional syndrome.
Stem cell spinal fusion:
There is an increased interest in stem cell spinal fusion for lower back pain but more research is needed before this technology to be largely applied. This is used because stem cells have the potential to become any kind of cell ( blood, nerve, bone). By introducing stem cells into the area of fusion researchers hope they become bone cells, creating bone and solidifying the spinal fusion.
This blog post is an educational resource only and does not replace a medical consultation with a doctor .
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