Back fusion — what you should know

Back fusion, also called spinal fusion, is a surgery that can help to minimize pain in the neck or back. People with degenerative spine conditions including collapsed discs, spinal arthritis and degenerative disc disease may be candidates for back fusion.

There are two primary goals of a back fusion. The first goal is to relieve neural compression by removing a portion of the spinal anatomy. The second goal is to restore a healthy structure to the spine by permanently fusing two or more vertebrae together.

Traditional open back fusion surgery

Traditional open back fusion surgery is a highly invasive procedure that can involve a fairly long and difficult recovery. One of the main components of a traditional open back fusion procedure is the implantation of bone grafts and stabilizing implants. During the surgery, the intervertebral disc at the affected level of the spine is removed to make room for the graft, which is usually taken from the patient’s own body during a harvesting procedure prior to surgery.

The purpose of the bone graft is to facilitate the growth of new bone, which will help the two adjacent vertebrae on either side of the graft to fuse into one solid segment of bone. The bone graft is often morselized (broken up into small pieces) and contained within a small titanium cage that is held in place with rods and screws. At times, traditional open back fusion leads to failed back surgery syndrome, including the risk that a patient’s body will reject implanted objects.

If you are considering an elective spinal fusion, it is wise to try a wide range of conservative therapies before opting for surgery. If you have a degenerative spine condition, and you have tried conservative treatments for several months, it may be time to look at surgical alternatives.

Minimally invasive alternatives to open back surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in a variety of minimally invasive procedures for serious spine conditions. In fact, we perform more minimally invasive spine surgeries each month than any other spine surgery provider in the world. Our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are safer and effective alternatives to open neck and back surgery, offering you a number of benefits as you seek to find pain relief for a degenerative spine condition.

Some of the benefits of our minimally invasive procedures include:

  • Outpatient procedure
  • Less surgical blood loss
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Small incision
  • Muscle-sparing techniques move muscles aside instead of cutting or tearing them

Many of our patients are up and walking within a few hours after surgery and 88 percent of our fusion patients return to their daily activities within three months of having surgery.

Call a member of our Care Team today to see if our minimally invasive approach is right for you. We will be happy to review your MRI and CT scan films, CDs and reports to assess your situation and determine if we can help.