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Spinal Fusion Specialist

Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group

Spine Surgeons & Neurosurgeons located in Fresno, CA

If you struggle with ongoing back or neck pain due to problems such as pinched spinal nerves and damaged discs, a spinal fusion may be the solution you need. The doctors at Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group in Fresno, California, specialize in spinal surgeries such as spinal fusion, often performing minimally invasive surgery that repairs your spine and allows you to go home the same day. If you have questions about spinal fusion and how it might alleviate your pain, call or book an appointment online today.

Spinal Fusion Q & A

What is a spinal fusion?

A spinal fusion is a surgical procedure to permanently connect adjoining vertebrae. Fusing two or more vertebrae together stops painful movement and restores or maintains spinal stability.

After undergoing a spinal fusion, you lose movement between the fused vertebrae, but that affects only one segment of your spine. As a result, the fusion doesn’t limit your overall ability to move.

Since a spinal fusion alleviates your pain, spinal movement typically improves compared with your ability before the procedure.

When might I need a spinal fusion?

In most cases, treatment for a back or neck problem starts with conservative therapies. When your pain persists despite receiving the full range of conservative options, or if your pain is so severe it causes disability, you may need a spinal fusion.

A spinal fusion may ultimately be the best option for people diagnosed with problems such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Radiculopathy
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal infection
  • Spinal fracture
  • Spinal tumor
  • Scoliosis

Though spinal fusion may be the primary treatment for scoliosis or a fracture, most underlying conditions require a procedure to repair the problem before the fusion is performed. For example, your doctor may first need to remove a damaged disc or decompress pinched nerves.

What happens during a spinal fusion?

Your doctor removes the existing disc and replaces it with a bone graft. Bone grafts may come from a small sample taken from a bone in your body. However, you may get the graft from a bank of donor bones, or your doctor may recommend a synthetic spinal fusion cage.

The cage-like structure is made from biocompatible materials and filled with proteins that promote bone growth. The cage, which is perfectly sized and shaped to fit the space where the disc was removed, is inserted between the vertebrae being fused.

No matter what type of bone graft is used, each vertebra grows new bone over the graft, merging together to turn the two vertebrae into one strong bone.

Is spinal fusion performed using minimally invasive surgery? 

Most, but not all, spinal fusions can be performed using minimally invasive procedures. During minimally invasive surgery, your doctor makes a small incision, gently separates the muscles rather than cutting them, and then uses specialized instruments that fit through the incision. 

With minimally invasive techniques, you may have outpatient spine surgery, which allows you to go home the same day.

If you need a spinal fusion or you wonder if this procedure may relieve your back or neck pain, call Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group today, or you can book an appointment online.