Medical doctor & analyst Dr. William Matzner publishes explanatory overview of spinal fusion
Do you want to know more about Spinal Surgery? The new article by William L. Matzner is a good starting point for research & medical consultations.
By: Healthcare Analytics LLC
What is Spinal Fusion - The small bones in the spinal cord called vertebrae are permanently joined via a process called spinal fusion surgery. After the vertebrae are joined together, they are unable to move. The vertebrae are joined by placing a bone or a material similar to it in the space between two consecutive vertebrae. To keep the bones together and to allow them to heal, metal screws and rods are used to hold the vertebrae together.
According to a 2011 study, about 488,000 spinal fusion procedures have been performed by doctors. You must be thinking that why is this surgery used when it immobilizes the spine. Well, spinal fusion surgery is performed to mend broken or dislocated spine. The following conditions are treated by this surgery:
* Unstable spine because of damaged vertebrae
* Deformed spinal cord because of conditions such as scoliosis (curved spine) and kyphosis (curved upper spinal cord)
* Abnormal movement of the spine
* Slipped vertebrae
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the above conditions, then they must consult their doctor and ask them if they need to undergo a spinal fusion surgery. Your doctor will try to heal your condition without surgery but if non-surgical procedures are not enough then they will recommend surgery.
Just like every other surgery, there are some potential complications that a patient can expect after undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Spinal fusion complications include pain in the bone graft site and infection at the surgical site.
Not everyone who undergoes spinal fusion surgery will experience these complications. The surgery is simple and your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and other medicines to eliminate these risk factors. After the surgery, the spinal cord will not function the way it did before. The fused portion of your spinal cord will not be able to bear the load as it did before so after surgery, patients have to stay careful not to strain their spinal cord because that might damage the fused vertebrae.
Before the spinal fusion surgery, your doctor will carefully inspect your spinal cord via x-rays and other imaging techniques. By using those images, the doctor will plan how the surgery will be performed.
During the procedure, the surgeon injects general anesthesia so that your body becomes numb and you don't feel any pain. First, the surgeon will make an incision to access the damaged portion of your spine. The incision will be made either directly on the spine or near your neck or abdomen. It depends on the condition of your spinal injury.
To fuse two vertebrae, your surgeon will obtain a portion of bone from your body – called the bone graft. Usually, the pelvic bone is used to obtain a bone graft for spinal fusion. Your surgeon will make an incision on your pelvis area, take out a small portion of the bone and seal the incision. In some cases, surgeons use some other material that resembles bone instead of the bone graft. Your surgeon will tell you which method they will use.
Your surgeon will fuse the bone graft material and hold the vertebrae together using metal rods and screws. After that, the incision will be sealed and you will have to stay in the hospital for two to three days so that the doctors can keep you under observation. They will allow you to go home after your condition is stable. You will have to take medicines and even wear a special brace to support your spinal cord.
If you feel that your body needs to undergo spinal fusion surgery, consult your doctor and tell them what problems you're experiencing. If needed, they will recommend this surgery for you.
*** Dr. William Matzner works in the area of healthcare economics consulting at Healthcare Analytics, LLC, in California.
Healthcare Analytics LLC
Dr. William Lee Matzner, California