Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure where two or more vertebrae is joined together using bone tissue, which then grows with the body’s natural processes and “fuses” the vertebrae together for added support to the spine. Pain is the most common symptom of back conditions that require spinal fusion surgery for relief.
Very often, it is recommended after other options have been unsuccessful in alleviating the problem or the pain associated with it. Depending on location of the problem, the cause and the individual patient, physicians may recommend:
- Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) – allows surgeons to approach the spine from the side, removing disc material and placing bone grafts to the affected vertebrae
- Interspinous Process Distraction/Decompression (X-Stop) – a special device or spacer is inserted to relieve pressure on the spine and nerves that causes pain, loss of movement in the legs and even normal bladder or bowel function.
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) – approaching the spine from the front, a large portion of a degenerated disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft to fuse the vertebrae together.
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) – a portion of a disc is removed and a single bone graft is inserted where the material has been removed to avoid moving or damaging the nerve roots during the procedure.
- Thoracoscopic Anterior Spine Surgery – effective for various fusion surgeries, this procedure allows surgeons to reach the area through the chest cavity, with the patient lying on his or her side.