Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones of the spine (vertebrae). It is essentially a "welding" process. The basic idea is to fuse together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. Spine surgery is usually recommended only when your doctor can pinpoint the source of your pain. To do this, your doctor may use imaging tests, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Here are some of the conditions that may require spinal fusion. Click on the links to learn more.
- Degenerative Disk Disease
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Understanding how your spine works will help you better understand spinal fusion.
Learn more about your spine: Spine Basics
Surgeons can reach the spine by making an incision (cut) in different places on your body. Incision sites are often described as:
- Anterior. This term refers to the front of your body. In spinal fusion surgery an anterior fusion is done by making an incision in the abdomen (belly).
- Posterior. This refers to the back of your body. If you are having a posterior fusion in your lower back, you will lie on your stomach during the operation and your surgeon will make the incision in your lower back.
- Lateral. This refers to the side of your body. Surgeons can reach certain parts of the lumbar spine by making an incision in your side.