Every major surgery starts with general anesthesia, which makes you unconscious during the procedure. There are several different techniques that surgeons use in spinal fusion. It depends on the location of the vertebrae to be fused.
Generally, the procedure involves the following steps:
Incision: to attain access to the vertebrae, the surgeon will make an incision in three different sites: in your neck directly to your spine, on each side of your spine, or in the throat to access the spine from the front.
Bone graft preparation: the bone grafts work for fusing two vertebrae and may come from your own body, usually from your pelvis. If they use your bone, the surgeon will make an incision above the pelvic bone, remove a small portion, and close it.
Fusion: to fuse the vertebrae, the surgeon places the bone graft between the vertebrae. Metal plates, rods, or screws may hold the vertebrae together while the bone graft heals.
It usually lasts several hours as it is one of the major surgeries. The surgery time also varies according to the individual patient, but usually, it takes four to six hours.
Type of anesthesia:
For almost all major surgical procedures, general anesthesia is given to patients for better tolerance and surgical exposure under muscle relaxants.
There are always risks associated when it comes to any surgery. But spinal fusion is a high-risk surgery. Your doctor will discuss the complications before the surgery is done. Here are some risks that you may face when spinal fusion is done:
Vertebral osteomyelitis is a common type of vertebral infection. It can form from direct open spinal trauma. Also, the infection can occur in surrounding areas from bacteria. You can take antibiotics prescribed by your doctor regularly during and after surgery to lessen the risk of infections.
A definite amount of blood is expected, but it is not significant. Losing a small amount of blood is normal, but excessive bleeding during spinal fusion can also be possible. Pain at the site from where the bone graft is taken:
Having pain in the back or if you feel stiff and sore is expected after surgery. You may have a problem sitting or standing in one position. Your recovery may take two to three weeks to heal. Also, you need to take medicine regularly after surgery.
It is another complication where the patient faces blood clots in the legs. It is one of the uncommon risks, but it can be dangerous if they break off and travel to the lungs.
It can cause damage to your nerves during surgery.