What is arthrodesis?

What is arthrodesis? Also known as a spinal fusion, it is the surgical fusion of two joints in the body. The goal is to fuse the joint in order to eliminate bone-on-bone friction and/or nerve compression that causes pain and other symptoms. The method can be used to treat ailments within nearly any joint in the body, but is most commonly used on fingers, ankles, feet and the spine.

Surgeons perform spinal arthrodesis to relieve joint pain that has been unmanageable through methods such as bracing, ingesting over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatories or analgesics, or splinting. The pain can be caused by injury, such as a broken finger or ankle, or by an age-related degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis.

What is the goal of spinal arthrodesis?

Arthrodesis within the spine involves the removal of a portion of spinal anatomy, followed by the insertion of bone graft material to promote the fusion of a vertebral segment. A metal cage is often used to contain the bone graft material, and screws and rods are implanted to keep the vertebrae in place until the bone graft has solidified. This process can be accomplished through traditional, open neck or back surgery (spinal fusion) or through minimally invasive spine surgery, specifically minimally invasive stabilization procedures as perfected by the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute. The goals of both surgeries are two-fold:

  • To eliminate the underlying anatomical cause of spinal nerve compression
  • To fuse and stabilize the affected vertebral segment

Minimally invasive stabilization procedures utilize a smaller incision than traditional spinal fusion and entail no muscle disruption, which contributes to a much shorter period of recuperation.^ Our minimally invasive procedures also are all performed on an outpatient basis and offer a lower risk of infection and complication than traditional spinal fusion.

What is spinal arthrodesis used to treat?

Conditions within the spine that often are treatable through arthrodesis include:

  • Spinal arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Facet disease

These degenerative spine conditions can give rise to localized pain caused by the exposure of bone in the presence of frayed joint cartilage, as well as anatomical abnormalities such as bone spurs and herniated discs. Nerve compression can cause shooting pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the extremities. These symptoms typically can be managed using conservative, nonsurgical methods, but if symptoms persist after several weeks or months, spinal arthrodesis may be recommended.

If you are experiencing pain from a spinal condition and your physician has recommended spinal arthrodesis, contact Laser Spine Institute before you settle for a highly invasive traditional spinal fusion. Our team can review your most recent MRI report to determine if arthrodesis in the form of our minimally invasive stabilization procedures can help.