Spinal fusion

Spinal fusion is a procedure in which surgeons join two or more vertebrae together in order to stabilize the spine. The purpose of spinal fusion is to relieve the pain that patients experience from spine conditions that affect the movement and stability between two vertebrae. Pain and discomfort in the joints and discs between the vertebrae are commonly caused by degenerative spine conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, or arthritis of the spine.

While most mild forms of degenerative spine conditions can be effectively treated with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and medication, some conditions require surgical treatment to effectively alleviate the pain and symptoms.

If you have been recommended to undergo a spinal fusion surgery to help treat your spine condition, you may be asking yourself a lot of questions and wondering if there is another option. Many patients view spinal fusion as a “last resort” treatment, which can be an overwhelming and sometimes scary thought. However, patients facing a spinal fusion surgery have more options than they might think. No longer is highly invasive traditional spinal fusion the only option for patients; Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine fusion options that can treat the spine condition with less risks and shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back fusion.

As you continue to research the treatment options available to you, we encourage you to reach out to our Care Team for more information. We are here to help you learn about all of your options so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.

Spinal fusion overview

Spinal fusion is used to correct instability and limited motion in the spine between two vertebrae, usually caused by a degenerative spine condition. A degenerative spine condition occurs from years of weight gain and repetitive motions, which compress and wear down the components of the spine. An example of this is degenerative disc disease. As the spine becomes compressed under weight and motion, the vertebrae of the spine push into the disc in between the two vertebrae. The disc acts as a cushion for the vertebrae and allows them to move without impacting nerves; it also supports the vertebrae by stabilizing the spine and holding the vertebrae in place.

As the disc begins to deteriorate, the vertebrae have less cushion to move and less stability. This is when a spinal fusion may be recommended to treat the condition and reduce the pain that accompanies this condition. A spinal fusion removes the damaged disc or vertebra in the spine and replaces it with an implant or bone graft to stabilize that portion of the spine.

Types of spinal fusion

There are two main options for spinal fusion surgery: traditional open back fusion or minimally invasive stabilization surgery. You should research both options thoroughly before deciding which treatment option is best for you.

A traditional open back fusion is performed in a hospital setting. The surgery begins with a large incision in the back. Through this incision, the surgeon will cut through the surrounding muscles and soft tissue to access the spine. The diseased disc in the spine will then be removed and the implant will be inserted into the spine for stabilization. Due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open back fusion, patients have an increased risk of infection and excessive blood loss. For this reason, patients are required to stay extra nights in the hospital after surgery to be monitored by medical staff.

Because fusion is permanent, there are a number of key factors that must first be considered before undergoing surgery. When performed as a traditional open spine procedure:

* Spinal fusion is not always effective * The presence of scar tissue buildup from invasive open back surgery can become a new source of pain if the scar tissue presses upon spinal nerves * Rehabilitation from open back spinal surgery is lengthy and often painful At Laser Spine Institute, we believe that patients should have access to a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back fusion. Our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain and has yielded a 96 patient satisfaction score^.

During our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the surgeon will begin by making a small incision of about an inch in length. Unlike traditional open back fusion that cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine, our minimally invasive stabilization does not disturb the surrounding muscles or tissue. This reduces our patients risks and recovery time* after surgery. Once the spine is accessed, the surgeon will remove the diseased disc or vertebra and insert the implant.

Advantages of Laser Spine Institute's minimally invasive spine surgery:

  • No lengthy recovery^
  • Patient satisfaction score of 96^
  • Board-certified surgeons+
  • Less than 1-inch incision
  • Outpatient procedure
  • 97 out of 100 patient recommendation rate^

For more information about spinal fusion and the treatment options available to you, contact our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute.