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How is the spinal fusion procedure done?

Hooman M. Melamed, MD
Neurosurgery
There are multiple ways of performing a spinal fusion procedure.  The goal of the surgery is to eventually get one vertebrae to fuse to the next vertebrae but at the same time it MUST ensure that the proper alignment is restored to that segment of the spine.  There are options of how to access the area during surgery, either entering from the back, the front or a combined approach.  Each can have their pros and cons, risks and benefits.  I personally prefer the front or the combined approach.  If I am operating on a fusion at one level, i tend to go from front only.  This can actually be done as an outpatient procedure in a minimally invasive fashion.  I remove the entire disc from the front and replace it with a plastic spacer and fix it in place with screws.  If am performing multiple-levels fusion, then i tend to do the combined approach.  A candidate for outpatient procedures include anyone with up to two level fusions in the lower back and 3 levels in the neck; anything more requires a hospital stay.  I feel that in my hands this technique offers the highest surface area for fusion, faster fusion due to much better mechanical stability, faster return to work and much better restoration of the overall alignment of the spine, which is very critical in the overall well being of the spine health and overall patients well being down the line.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The surgical procedure to join together two or more vertebrae in the spine is done under general anesthesia. It can be done from the front, back, or sometimes both. It usually entails staying in the hospital for four to five days. Watch this video on the procedure.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.