Using a bone graft for spinal fusion surgery

Some forms of spinal fusion surgery use a bone graft to restore stability to damaged areas of the spine. Often, the spine can become unstable due to a deteriorated disc in between a set of two vertebrae. The purpose of a disc is to properly space and support the vertebrae to allow cushion during movement and enough space in between the vertebrae so there is no hindered bending or twisting. If a disc becomes damaged, a bone graft is sometimes inserted around, or in place of, the disc to fuse the two surrounding vertebrae together and stabilize the area. The bone graft may be implanted on the front, the back or inside the body of the vertebra, usually with the aid of metal cages, screws, rods or plates.

Bone grafts — difficulties and types

A difficulty with bone grafts during fusion, especially traditional open back fusion, is the risk that the fusion will fail. Traditional open back surgery requires a large initial incision in the back that cuts through the muscles and soft tissue in order to access the spine. As this incision heals, excessive scar tissue can form beneath the skin and prevent the fusion from being able to properly hold on both vertebrae.

Types of bone graft for spinal fusion surgery include:

  • Autograft — bone matter that is taken from another region in the patient’s body, often from the pelvis; this is also called autologous bone
  • Allograft — bone tissue from a cadaver that is stored in a medical facility
  • Bone substitutes — used as bone graft extenders, usually in conjunction with allograft
  • Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) — used to stimulate bone growth, BMPs have shown promise in reducing or eliminating the need for harvesting bone from the patient’s body

If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition that has caused significant damage and instability to your spine, we recommend that you research the different types of spinal fusion available to you before moving forward with back surgery.

Minimally invasive stabilization

Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective approach to spinal fusion with our minimally invasive stabilization procedures.^ During a minimally invasive procedure, a small muscle-sparing incision is made and the damaged disc is replaced with an implant, such as a bone graft, to stabilize the spine. Due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, our patients experience a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication^ than patients who undergo traditional open back fusion. For more information about spinal fusion and the benefits of our outpatient minimally invasive stabilization surgery, contact the caring team Laser Spine Institute today.

We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.