Spinal fusion is surgery to fuse together two vertebrae to eliminate motion between the two vertebrae and to relieve pain. This procedure connects two or more vertebrae together, such as within the lumbar or neck region, with metal screws and rods so they have a chance to grow together, or fuse.
UPMC neurosurgeons may perform spinal fusion surgery on the neck or lumbar area to treat:
It is usually only offered to patients whose pain and disability are not alleviated with conservative treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy, massage, and rest.
During the procedure, surgeons make an incision in the back or neck to access the spine. In some cases, access may be through the side of the body using the minimally invasive spinal fusion technique called XLIF®
Cervical (neck) or lumbar fusion may be done with bone grafts or with a small metal cage filled with bone graft material. The cage is placed between the spinal bones. The surgeon will implant screws and plates or rods to hold the bones in place to help them fuse together.