Spinal Fusion

Steven C. Dennis, MD -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Steven C. Dennis, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon located in Newport Beach, CA

As instances of back pain and spinal stenosis continue to grow in the United States, so too does the need for spinal surgery treatment. Thankfully, spinal fusion can be a safe and highly effective treatment for many types of back pain. If you're interested in learning more about whether spinal fusion is right for you, don't hesitate to call Steven C. Dennis, MD, in Newport Beach, California or book an appointment online.

Spinal Fusion Q & A

What is spinal fusion?

It might sound futuristic, but spinal fusion is a fairly straightforward procedure in practice. During spinal fusion, at least two vertebrae are connected together using bone from your body or synthetic and frequently metal rods and screws.

By fusing vertebrae together, the ability for these vertebrae to independently move is stopped, creating a stable section of the spine, which helps remove the pain associated with certain spinal conditions.

Who needs spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion is a surgical technique tailored to specific medical conditions affecting the spine. Most of these conditions affect the stability of the spine or cause pain. These conditions include:

Spinal deformities

Abnormal shapes of your spine, such as the curves caused by scoliosis or upper rounding of the spine caused by kyphosis, are treatable through spinal fusion.

Broken vertebrae

Though some broken vertebrae are capable of healing on their own, severe breaks can cause instability in your spine and require fusion.

Spondylolisthesis

This spinal condition occurs when a vertebra slips out of position and tilts on the vertebra below it. This can often cause severe pain or leg numbness, which requires fusion to correct.

Herniated discs

Severe cases of herniated discs that cannot be corrected through more conservative means might require spinal fusion for treatment.

General spinal weakness or instability

Spinal weakness or instability is often caused by conditions like arthritis, but can typically be corrected using spinal fusion pathology.

What can I expect during a spinal fusion procedure?

During your spinal fusion, you will first be placed under general anesthesia, and you will be under for the duration of the procedure. After locating the vertebrae that require fusion,  a small incision over your spine will be made to access the site. The muscles are usually split as well to expose the affected part of the spine.

Spinal fusions require bone grafts to help connect the vertebrae together. This bone can either come from a bone graft from a donor or from your own body. If the bone is taken from your body,  a small incision is made above your pelvic bone to remove a small portion for the procedure.

Once the bone graft is in place, the spine is held together using metal rods, and screws, and possibly spacers or “cages” between the bones for additional support.

How long is spinal fusion recovery?

Following your surgery, you might need to stay in the hospital for a few days for observation. You will likely experience a small amount of pain or discomfort, but medications can help control this pain.

It can take several months for vertebrae to fully heal after spinal fusion. During this time, Dr. Dennis might advise abstaining from sports and other taxing physical activities, including your job if necessary.

Finally, Dr. Dennis might recommend physical therapy to help you adjust to your procedure. You will want to learn to walk and move in a fashion that keeps your spine in alignment.

Curious about whether spinal fusion surgery is right for you? Let Dr. Dennis help. Call Steven C. Dennis, MD, in Newport Beach, California, to schedule your consultation or book online.