Spinal Fusion

When you have back or neck pain that isn’t responding to non-surgical treatments, spinal fusion might be the answer. Fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon Ashraf Guirgues, MD specializes in performing spinal fusion using minimally invasive techniques and robotic surgery. They use advanced tissue-sparing approaches that few other practices offer, including lateral lumbar interbody fusion to relieve chronic back pain. Find out if you could benefit from the team’s expertise by calling the Morehead City, Swansboro, or Jacksonville, North Carolina, location, or use the online booking form today.

Spinal Fusion Q&A

What is spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion is a well-established approach to treating several common causes of back or neck pain. It involves fusing vertebrae so they form a single, rigid piece of bone, which stops excessive or painful movement in your spine.

To perform spinal fusion, the EmergeOrtho-Coastal Region team inserts a bone graft between two vertebrae. This graft could be from your body (autograft), a donor (allograft), or be artificial. The graft stimulates the growth of new bone, permanently fusing your vertebrae.

Fusing vertebrae in this way stops you from being able to move the treated part of your spine so freely. However, your back or neck pain improves so significantly that overall, your mobility should be much greater.

When would I need spinal fusion?

You might need spinal fusion to address conditions of your cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) such as:

  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Spinal tumor
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

For a great many patients, non-surgical treatments like physical therapy, medication, and activity modification resolve their back or neck pain satisfactorily. There are also options like epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation for more persistent cases.

Only when these methods aren’t achieving the symptom relief you need would we perform spinal fusion.

What happens during spinal fusion?

The first stage of the spinal fusion process is to remove damaged disc material and other excess tissues. Next, they insert the bone graft.

The technique the team uses to perform your spinal fusion depends on the reason for your surgery and factors like your age, weight, and general health. They typically use minimally invasive spine surgery methods for most patients and almost always use robotic surgery for lumbar spinal fusion.

They also specialize in using a technique called lateral lumbar interbody fusion, which is also known as extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) or direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF).

What is lateral lumbar interbody spinal fusion?

In a lateral lumbar interbody fusion procedure, your surgeon enters your body through your side or flank.

The advantage of lateral lumbar interbody fusion is that your surgeon can access your spine without damaging your back muscles or nerves. This makes it a very effective method that’s the most minimally invasive option. It’s also a method that few spinal surgeons specialize in.

Cervical Spinal Fusion Q&A

What is cervical fusion?

Cervical spinal fusion (arthrodesis) is a surgery that joins selected bones in the neck (cervical spine). There are different methods of doing a cervical spinal fusion:

  • Bone can be taken from elsewhere in your body or obtained from a bone bank (a bone graft). The bone is used to make a bridge between vertebrae that are next to each other (adjacent). This bone graft stimulates the growth of new bone. Man-made (artificial) fusion materials may also be used.
  • Metal implants can be used to hold the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them.
  • Metal plates can be screwed into the bone, joining adjacent vertebrae.
  • An entire vertebra can be removed, and the spine then fused.
  • A spinal disc can be removed and the adjacent vertebrae fused.

This procedure can be done through an incision on the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the neck.

Why is it done

Cervical spinal fusion may be done:

  • After an injury, to stabilize the neck and prevent a bone fracture from causing instability or damage to the spinal cord, which may result in paralysis.
  • To treat conditions such as misalignment of the vertebrae.
  • Metal plates can be screwed into the bone, joining adjacent vertebrae.
  • As a follow-up procedure to treat spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, an infection, tumors, or spinal deformities
How well it works

Often spinal fusion is needed to keep the spine stable after injury, infection, or a tumor.

When symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the arm suggest that a neck problem is causing a pinched nerve (radiculopathy), surgery may help you feel better faster. But it’s not clear that surgery is any better than non-surgical treatment in the long run. And research also suggests that a complex surgery that includes fusion is not better than a simpler surgery to take the pressure off the nerve.

If you have neck pain alone, with no signs of a pinched nerve, neck surgery will not help.

To find out more about relief of chronic back or neck pain and your options for spinal fusion, call today or book an appointment online.

Expert Spine Health and Surgery Consultations

Dr. Guirgues is committed to providing comprehensive care, advanced surgical techniques, and personalized treatment plans for patients dealing with spine-related challenges. For those facing complex or uncertain spine conditions, obtaining a deeper understanding of your diagnosis and exploring all treatment options is essential.

Expert Insights on Spine Surgery and Care

Specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery, Dr. Guirgues delivers expert advice to help you make informed healthcare decisions with confidence.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Guirgues, please call our office at (910) 332-3800.

Request An Appointment

© 2024 EmergeOrtho. All Rights Reserved.

Design by Farotech