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Alternative namesHarrington rod insertion; Posterior spinal fusion; Arthrodesis; Luque rod insertion; Anterior spinal fusion
Spinal fusion involves surgical treatment of abnormalities in the spine bones (vertebrae), such as abnormal curvatures ( scoliosis or kyphosis ) or injuries (fractures). The surgery stabilizes the back by fusing certain vertebrae together with bone grafts or metal rods.
The most common spinal area involved is the lower (lumbar) spine, but upper (cervical) spine fusion can also be performed. This surgery can also be used to treat arthritis or infection.
While the patient is under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free), an incision is made over the area of the spine that will be treated.
The lower spinal vertebrae are often repaired through an incision directly over the spine -- this is called the posterior lumbar approach. The upper spinal vertebrae are often repaired through an incision in the front or side of the neck ( anterior cervical spine). The middle spinal vertebrae are sometimes repaired through an incision made in the chest and abdomen (anterior thoracic spine).
Any area of the spine can be repaired from the front side or the back, depending on the disease and surgeon's preferences.
The abnormal or injured vertebrae are repaired and stabilized with bone grafts , metal rods, or both.
IndicationsSpinal fusion may be recommended for the following:
RisksRisks for any anesthesia include the following:
Expectations after surgeryThis surgery is usually very successful, especially with the many techniques and instruments now in use.
The patient will be hospitalized for several days after surgery. The repaired spine should be kept in proper position to maintain alignment.
Because of the risk of temporary decreased or absent intestinal function ( paralytic ileus ) after spinal surgery, the patient may not be able to eat for 2 to 3 days and will be fed intravenously.
Update Date: 11/13/2002Thomas N. Joseph, M.D., Department of Orthopedic Surgery, NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT