Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a procedure to make 2 or more of your back bones (vertebrae) grow together (fuse). This stops movement between the back bones. This can help decrease pain.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • You will have a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging exams.

  • You will talk with the person who will give you medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthetic) during the procedure.

  • Ask your doctor about changing or stopping your medicines.

  • If you smoke, stop smoking 2 weeks before the procedure.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the procedure.

PROCEDURE

  • A cut (incision) is made over the back bones.

  • The back muscles are parted from the back bones.

  • If the cushion (disc) between your back bones is causing problems, it will be removed. The area where the cushion was will be filled with extra bone. Bone may be taken from another part of your body or from a bone donor. The extra bone helps your back bones grow together.

  • Sometimes, medicines (bone-forming proteins) are added to the area to help you heal. In most cases, screws, rods, or metal plates are used to keep the back bones in place while they grow together.

Sometimes, this procedure is done from the front of the spine. In that case, a cut may be made in your side or belly (abdomen).

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will stay in a recovery area until you are awake. Your blood pressure and heart will be checked.

  • You will be given medicine (antibiotics) to prevent infection.

  • You may continue to get fluids through a tube in your vein (IV).

  • You should expect some pain after surgery. You will be given pain medicine.

  • You will be taught how to move, stand, and walk. While in bed, you will be told to turn often. You will be told to roll like a log, so you can move your whole body and not twist your back. Do not turn on your own until you are told to do so.