Spinal Fusion Surgery

A spine fusion is a surgical procedure performed to link together individual segments, or vertebrae, within the spine. The spinal column, or backbone, is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. These bones are stacked together. Between each of the vertebrae is a soft cushion called a disc. The disc spaces allow each vertebrae to bend slightly; this motion allows us to bend forward and arch backwards.

You will be given general anesthesia. During spine fusion surgery, your surgeon will attempt to stimulate bone growth between the vertebrae. Once new bone forms, the vertebrae will be linked together, and there should be no further movement between the fused segments.

As part of the process to perform spine fusion, your surgeon may recommend spinal instrumentation. This means that your surgeon will also place metal within your spine to hold the vertebral bones together. Spinal instrumentation exists in many different types. Your surgeon will recommend a particular type of instrumentation, depending on many factors including the underlying problem being treated, the age of the patient, the number of levels of the spine being fused, and other factors.

You will need to stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 days after surgery. The repaired spine should be kept in the right position to maintain alignment.

If the surgery involved a surgical cut in the chest, a chest tube may be used to drain fluid build-up. The tube is usually removed after 24 to 72 hours.

You will receive pain medicines in the hospital. You may have a pump where you control how much pain medicine you get, you may get shots or intravenous (IV) injections, or you may take pain pills.

You will be taught how to move properly and how to sit, stand, and walk. You'll be told to use a "log-rolling" technique when getting out of bed. This means that you move your entire body at once, without twisting your spine.

You may not be able to eat for 2 to 3 days and will be fed through an IV. When you leave the hospital, you may need to wear a back brace or cast.

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