Spinal fusion surgery is used to permanently join two or more of the vertebrae in your spine so there can no longer be any movement between them. The techniques used to perform the surgery are designed to imitate the natural healing process of broken bones.
During the procedure, Dr. Melamed inserts bone or a bone-like material within the space between the two spinal vertebrae that are being joined together. Metal plates, screws, and rods help hold everything in place, and over time, the vertebrae heal and fuse into a single unit.
Although spinal fusion can alleviate pain and treat a wide range of spine-related issues, it effectively immobilizes part of your spine and changes the way your spine is able to move.
Spinal fusion is generally done for one of the following three reasons:
Although spinal fusion is often considered a last-resort treatment for many disorders, it’s a safe and effective way to address a variety of persistent spine problems, including:
Although many broken vertebrae heal on their own and don’t require surgery, broken vertebrae that make your spine less stable may eventually benefit most from spinal fusion.
Severe arthritis in the spine can cause excessive motion between vertebrae, which can eventually lead to spinal instability. Likewise, the removal of a damaged spinal disc can cause similar vertebral movement and instability. Spinal fusion can help correct both of these problems.
Spinal fusion can help correct many deformities, including scoliosis, or the sideways curvature of the spine. It can also be used to correct kyphosis, or the abnormal rounding of the upper spine.
At Advanced Brain & Spine, Dr. Melamed also offers sacroiliac joint fusions for the 10-20% of chronic back pain patients affected by sacroiliac joint disease.
Spinal fusion surgery is done under general anesthesia. Dr. Melamed performs minimally invasive spinal fusions using endoscopic techniques. Depending on the part of your spine that’s being fused, you may lie on your back, your side, or face-down.
After making a small incision, Dr. Melamed uses tubular retractors to gently separate and hold the soft tissues and blood vessels apart as he works. He also uses an endoscope to help guide the bone or graft material into place and fix it with a plate and screws.
The entire surgery takes three to four hours.
Click here to watch a video of the procedure.
Click here to watch an educational video about the Sacroiliac joint.