What is 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 pain 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 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. For instance, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine fusion options that can treat the spine condition with fewer risks of infection and a shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back fusion. As you continue to research the treatment options available to you, we encourage you to contact our dedicated 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, 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 6- to 8-inch incision in the back where 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 between two to five days in the hospital to be monitored by medical staff after surgery.

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.^

During our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the surgeon will begin by making a small incision. Unlike traditional open back fusion that cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine, our minimally invasive spine surgery does not unnecessarily disturb the surrounding muscles or tissue. Once the spine is accessed, our highly skilled surgeons 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 98^
  • Board-certified surgeons+
  • Less than 1-inch incision
  • Outpatient procedure
  • 98 out of 100 patient recommendation score^

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. For more information about spinal fusion and the treatment options available to you, reach out to us today. We can set up a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient procedures, allowing you to recapture your quality of life from your debilitating spine condition.