Technically, disc fusion is a bit of a misnomer. Instead of asking, “What is disc fusion?” it is more correct to ask, “What is spinal fusion?” or, “What is vertebral fusion?” Spinal or vertebral fusion is a surgery in which one of the soft, spongy discs that sits between individual vertebrae is removed, and the two vertebrae surrounding the disc are permanently joined together using bone grafts and hardware. This surgery can be highly invasive, but recent advances in medicine have made it possible to perform fusion surgeries through an incision measuring about an inch.
If you have spent weeks or months working to overcome your chronic neck or back pain, you’re probably about ready to consent to just about anything that offers you the possibility of lasting pain relief. However, before you sign off on a highly invasive open spine surgery, such as spinal fusion, it pays to explore all of your options, including minimally invasive spine procedures as an alternative.
An Overview of Spinal Fusion
Spinal fusion surgery is a technique that was developed to permanently immobilize a segment of the spine where movement is causing the patient discomfort. More often than not, the symptoms that arise from a deteriorated intervertebral disc are a result of the disc or disc material coming in contact with a nerve root or the spinal cord. Fusion surgery seeks to address this compression. During this operation, an intervertebral disc that cushions and separates two vertebrae in the spine is carefully removed and replaced with a bone graft. The vertebrae are further stabilized with the installation of surgical hardware. This approach requires a significant amount of soft tissue to be dissected, and as is the case with most major surgery, the operation leaves the patient vulnerable to infection, hemorrhaging, and other postoperative concerns – to say nothing of the lengthy recovery and rehabilitation that will be required to return to full strength.
As an alternative to open spine surgery, the team of physicians at Laser Spine Institute offers a number of endoscopic procedures, which are designed to mitigate the symptoms from a number of degenerative spine conditions, including:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet disease
- And more
So, perhaps before asking your physician, “What is disc fusion?” it would make more sense to research whether you are a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure as an alternative. Laser Spine Institute even offers several minimally invasive stabilization procedures, which may provide you with the same lasting pain relief without the risks and long recovery associated with traditional spinal fusion surgery.