Posterior Spinal Fusion
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are joined together, eliminating any movement between them. This procedure is performed by placing bone grafts or bone graft substitutes in between the affected vertebrae to promote bone growth and eventually fuse the vertebrae into a single, solid bone. Spinal instrumentation or implants such as rods, plates, screws, and interbody devices are used to stabilize the spine after fusion. In posterior spinal fusion, the spine is approached from the back. The common types of posterior spinal fusion procedures include:
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion
- Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Direct Lateral Interbody Fusion (DLIF): This is another surgical approach where the spine is approached through a small incision made at the side of the spine. DLIF is a minimally invasive technique; the underlying soft tissues and the muscles are gently separated rather than cut. The spine is accessed through the psoas muscle.
The success of posterior spinal fusion is based on your body’s ability to heal and produce new bone. Your general health and co-existing conditions such as diabetes, endocrine disease, and osteoporosis can also alter the healing process. Your doctor may recommend specific tests to evaluate your medical condition. If you have a pre-existing medical disorder, you can follow certain measures to reduce your risk for failure of fusion:
- Quit smoking: Smoking decreases the blood circulation, slows the healing process and thus increases the risk of spinal fusion failure
- Eat a proper nutritional diet to fuel the body during the healing process
- Exercise, under the guidance of your surgeon, to enhance the healing process
- Get adequate rest after surgery
Consult your surgeon for any concerns or queries about posterior spinal fusion surgery.