Spinal Fusion with Instrumentation

Several different spine surgical procedures include Spinal Fusion with Instrumentation.  The primary purpose of fusion with instrumentation is to immediately and permanently stabilize the spine.

  • Spinal fusion utilizes bone graft to stimulate bone to heal together—to fuse solid.  There are different types of bone graft, including autograft (your bone), allograft (donor bone), and biological bone products.  Bone graft is packed into empty spaces between the vertebral bodies and around instrumentation.  As your spine heals, the bone graft stimulates your bone to make new bone and with time, joins bones together.
  • Instrumentation is a general term used to refer to spinal implants.  There are many different kinds of spinal devices and implants.  Included are plates, rods, screws, interbody cages, artificial discs, wire, and hooks.  Implants are made from materials such as stainless steel or titanium alloy. When implanted, instrumentation immediately stabilizes the spine.

When is fusion with instrumentation necessary?

Sometimes a spinal disorder or disease causes the spine to become unstable.  Or, certain surgical procedures require bone and/or disc tissue to be removed.  An anterior cervical discectomy or lumbar interbody fusion, are examples of spine procedures that usually require the use of bone graft and implants.  In these cases, interbody cages and bone graft may be used to fill the empty disc space between two vertebral bodies.

Types of interbody fusion procedures:

Help make your fusion a success

The success of your fusion procedure depends on your body’s ability to heal and make new bone.  The neurosurgeon considers your general health, including co-existing disease that may challenge healing.  Such disorders include diabetes, endocrine disease, and osteoporosis.   He may order specific tests before your surgery.

Although you may have a co-existing health problem, there are steps you can take under your neurosurgeon’s direction that may help lower your risk for failed fusion.

  • Stop smoking; don’t use tobacco.  If you smoke, your neurosurgeon may require you to start a smoking-cessation plan well in advance of your spine surgery.
  • Feed your body to fuel it for healing.  Getting your body ready for surgery is as important as eating well during recovery and for future spine health.
  • Exercise per your neurosurgeon’s instructions.  Movement speeds up your circulation and oxygen intake.  This is important to healing.  How? Circulation of blood and lymph are essential to feed your body and remove waste at the cellular level.
  • After spinal fusion with instrumentation surgery, get plenty of rest.  Your body will fatigue easily, especially in the early days and weeks during recovery.

Talk with your neurosurgeon

We hope this information about spinal fusion with instrumentation has answered your immediate questions.  Remember, your neurosurgeon is your most valuable source to answer your questions about symptoms, treatment and your healthcare.

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