Spinal fusion

Spinal Fusion


Spinal fusion surgery is performed to treat the diseased conditions related to the spine by fusing and joining two or more vertebrae, which immobilizes them. This restriction of movement will eliminate pain and other symptoms.

Why is it needed?

Done mostly at the lumbar vertebrae, the surgery is advised to treat the back pain or neurological deficit which has not responded to conservative treatment. This includes

Facts and figures:

  • First Russell Hibbs and Fred Albee developed the concept and methods for bony fusion of the spine to treat the Pott disease in 1911
  • According to published data, more than 400,000 spine fusion surgeries, the most serious age-related change, are performed in the United States annually
  • The spectacular increase in the number of fusion surgery had been observed in the past two decades in the American population.

Advantages:

  • Spinal fusion surgery makes the patient’s life more comfortable by relieving pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness, and improving overall posture.
  • Spinal lumbar fusion increases the stability of the spine that reduces the chances of injury to the lumbar spine.
  • In cases of severely injured spinal vertebrae, the spinal fusion decreases the chances of further injury and promotes healing.

Disadvantages:

Premature and inappropriate fusion procedures or a ‘Failed Back Surgery’ will bring you back to square 1.

Risk and complications:

  • Reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Damage of the spinal nerve can lead to paralysis in a later stage
  • Pulmonary embolism

Pre-operative preparation:

  • Complete physical examination
  • Blood and urinalysis
  • ECG and chest X-ray
  • Consult with the surgeon week prior and get the correct medicinal prescriptions.
  • Inform the surgeon about smoking and alcohol habits.
  • Plan for leave from work and domestic help at home.
  • Medical tourists are advised to wear comfortable clothes and to select a handicap-accessible hotel room for recovery after getting a discharge from the hospital.

Postoperative care:

  • Most patients are required to stay at the hospital on medications for 4-6 days and fed through IV for 2-3 days after the operation.
  • The spine needs to be kept in the right position to maintain alignment for a few days. The drainage tube will be removed within 2-3 days post-surgery.
  • In physiotherapy, the patient will be trained on how to sit, stand, and walk wearing a back brace to ensure proper healing.

Precautions:

  • Take medicines and Perform exercises as prescribed by the surgeon and physiotherapist respectively.
  • Keep the incision area dry and clean.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for at least 6-8 months