Spinal fusion is a procedure that involves an orthopedic surgeon placing a bone graft within the spaces between the small bones in the spine (vertebrae) and using screws, metal plates, and rods to hold them together. The goal is to enable the bones to heal into one solid unit and ultimately eliminate the movement between them.
If you have any of the following problems, you could greatly benefit from a spinal fusion surgery:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal instability or weakness- usually due to severe arthritis
- Spinal deformity (e.g., scoliosis)
Spinal fusion surgery is a major decision, which entails you having a thorough discussion with your doctor. When talking to your doctor about the procedure, make sure to ask the right questions. This is crucial for setting proper expectations as well as for smoothing out the entire decision-making process.
Below are a few questions you may find worth asking your orthopaedic surgeon about spinal fusion.
Q: Are There Alternatives to Fusion Surgery?
There are a few alternatives to spinal fusion surgery. One example is disc replacement surgery, which entails replacing the damaged natural disc with prosthesis. Unlike fusion surgery, which limits the movement of the vertebrae, the goal of disc replacement surgery is to preserve the normal motion of the spine. Microdiscectomy is another option, and it entails the removal of a portion of a herniated disc to ease nerve compression.
Q: What Are the Risks Associated with Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion has risks inherent in any type of surgery. These include blood clots, infection, poor wound healing, injury to the nerves and blood vessels, and lingering pain at the site of the graft. However, it’s worth mentioning that these risks are very rare, especially when the procedure is done via the minimally invasive technique, which involves smaller incisions.
Q: How Long Does Recovery Take?
The length of your recovery after a spinal fusion surgery depends on a number of factors, such your weight, age, overall health, and lifestyle. In general, it takes up to six weeks week to go back to a sedentary job and up to three months or longer to a physically demanding occupation.
Spine Surgeon in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Lapeer, Michigan
At Ahlgren Spine Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Bradley D. Ahlgren holds a reputation of excellence spanning nearly three decades for consistently providing the best possible outcomes for even the most complex surgical spine procedures. He delights in providing patients with useful information, which he believes can empower them to make the wisest decisions about their medical care.
Book a visit with Dr. Ahlgren today. Call our clinic today at (248) 215-8080 or use our convenient online request form.