Lumbar Posterior Spinal Fusion
As the name implies, spinal fusion involves fusing together two of more vertebrae. This surgical procedure uses bone grafts, as well as metal rods and screws.
Among the conditions that may be corrected with spinal fusion are: vertebrae injuries, slipped or herniated discs, abnormal curvatures of the spine (including kyphosis and scoliosis), and a weak or unstable spine resulting from tumors or infections.
By eliminating or reducing motion between vertebral segments, the procedure can significantly reduce pain in many patients. Spinal fusion may also stop the progression of spinal deformities, such as scoliosis. While some flexibility may be lost as a result of the fusion, most spinal fusions are performed on very small segments of the spine so limited movement is not usually an issue.
The material most commonly used in spinal fusion is human bone—either taken from the patient (autogenous bone) or harvested from a donor (allograft bone). While autogenous bone may fuse together more readily, that choice involves additional surgery to remove bone from the patient’s hip. Allograft bone may easily be obtained from bone banks.
Following bone grafting, the vertebrae must be held immobile with metal rods and screws to allow fusion to occur. In some cases, external bracing and/or casting may also be necessary.