Spinal Fusion - Stabilizing the Spine


Spinal fusion is an advanced technique in which two or more of the vertebrae of the spine are united together ("fused") so that motion no longer occurs between them. Instead, two or more vertebrae are joined to form a single unit. Essentially, spinal fusion strengthens the spine and may be performed in conjunction with a discectomy. Spinal fusion can be equated to the way broken bones heal. It is a process and may take time, depending on the patient’s medical condition, history of health conditions and the procedure itself.

Spinal fusion is considered for a number of reasons. These include treatment of a fractured (broken) vertebra; correction of deformity (spinal curves or slippages); elimination of pain from painful motion; spine instability; and treatment of some disc herniations.

The location of the incision depends on where the spinal fusion will be performed. So this can take place over the vertebrae in the front of the neck, on the side of the spine or over the abdomen. Then, Dr Szabo prepares the bone graft, taking one from the bone bank or the patient's pelvis. Afterwards, he places the bone graft between the conjoined vertebrae for the two points to unify.

In most cases of spinal fusion surgery, instrumentation (Screws, rods and metal plates) are used to stabilise the spine. For example, in a posterolateral fusion, a bone graft is placed over the transverse processes and other parts in the back of the spine then pedicle screws and rods are inserted to reinforce the spine until the bone graft heals.

Adding the instrumentation with bone graft fusion increases the strength of the spine directly after surgery and may decrease the need for postoperative bracing. Patients often remain in the hospital for four days to a week following the procedure and should avoid heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and turning for six to twelve weeks.


1Is spinal fusion a long surgery?
Spinal fusion can take anywhere between 2 and a half to seven hours. This surgery helps a few vertebrae join into a single piece of bone.
2How long will it take for me to recover after spinal fusion surgery?
It can take anywhere between four to six weeks after surgery to recover
3How do I know I can start exercising again after spinal fusion surgery?
Dr Szabo has to carry out an x-ray to see how well the spine is healing. Usually, within 6-12 months after surgery, you can begin exercising and bending again.