Chronic back pain is a very common problem in today’s world and several Americans became dependent on pain pills and frequent visits to the doctor. In some severe cases physicians might recommend a spinal fusion. The spinal fusion is a surgical process done by combining two or more vertebrae in the backbone to help limit their mobility. This process leads to reduction of pain caused from the movement of the vertebrae. Spinal fusion is essentially done in the lumbar section and may be efficient in the treatment of thoracic and cervical complications. Spinal fusion is commonly regarded as a Last resort and would be brought on by the patients neurological Injury or intense pain and insensitivity to alternative forms of treatment.
Spine surgery is usually recommended only when your doctor can pinpoint the source of your pain. To do this, your doctor may use imaging tests, such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Spinal fusion may help relieve symptoms of many back problems, including:
- Degenerative disk disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Fractured vertebra
- Herniated disk
Regardless of the advantages this medical technique can bring about, it does have some major disadvantages that make it a dangerous procedure. Your doctor will discuss each of the risks with you before your procedure and will take specific measures to help avoid potential complications. Potential risks and complication of spinal fusion include:
- Infection: Antibiotics are regularly given to the patient before, during, and often after surgery to lessen the risk of infections.
- Bleeding: A certain amount of bleeding is expected, but this is not typically significant. It is not usually necessary to donate blood before spinal fusion.
- Pain at graft site: A small percentage of patients will experience persistent pain at the bone graft site.
- Recurring symptoms: Some patients may experience a recurrence of their original symptoms. There are various causes for this. If your original symptoms recur, inform your doctor so that he or she can determine what is causing your symptoms.
- Pseudarthrosis: This is a condition in which there is not enough bone formation. Patients who smoke are more likely to develop a pseudarthrosis. Other causes include diabetes and older age. Moving too soon—before the bone is able to start fusing—may also result in a pseudarthrosis. If this occurs, a second surgery may be needed in order to obtain a solid fusion.
- Nerve damage: It is possible that nerves or blood vessels may be injured during these operations. These complications are very rare.
- Blood clots: Another uncommon complication is the formation of blood clots in the legs. These pose significant danger if they break off and travel to the lungs.