Spinal fusion surgery is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate back pain caused by motion between segments of the vertebrae that is used when more conservative approaches fail. The treatment is appropriate if the cause of back pain is motion between vertebae segments. The surgery involves fusing two or more vertebrae together permanently in an attempt to stop the movement and thereby stop the pain.
Spinal Fusion Surgery Information
Historically, spinal fusion was used to treat specific conditions such as scoliosis and other defects in the spine. It has, however, become an increasingly common method for treating lower back pain even when the pain cannot be attributed to a specific disorder. The number of spinal fusion operations has doubled over the last 15 years and is now used to treat back pain caused by car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and other accidents. Although most people do not require spinal fusion simply because they have experienced a back injury, spinal fusion surgery has become an appropriate alternative once more conservative approaches, such as physical therapy, have failed.
The surgery itself may take anywhere from two to twelve hours. It may be done with one large incission or, if a newer method is used, with several smaller incissions. The doctor must take a portion of bone matter, usually from the hips or pelvis, and use it to fill in the space between vertebrae. Pain in the site of the surgery and the site of bone removal is a common side effects. A patient would normally stay in the hospital for several days after the surgery. A rehab period is recommended as well. In addition, it should be noted that having spinal fusion surgery will not necessarily completely eliminate back pain, although in many cases it does reduce the level of pain. Someone considering spinal fusion surgery should discuss their expectations with their doctor to ensure they are informed about the procedure.
Although the surgery is successful in many cases, there are risks associated with the procedure. In addition to substantial pain in the aftermath of the surgery, the risk of infection and nerve damage in the spinal cord are always a concern. It is entirely possible that the surgery may create more problems than it solves and actually cause further injury to the patient. When a surgical procedure such as spinal fusion surgery is caused by a preventable medical error, the patient may have a valid claim for medical malpractice. In addition, if the surgery was performed to cure back pain caused by a car accident or other injury, the patient may be able to collect damages for the further injury from the person who caused the car accidnet or other injury. Someone who has been injured in spinal fusion surgery should discuss their legal rights with a lawyer.