During spinal fusion, your surgeon locks together, or fuses, specific bones in your spine that are causing pain. This limits the movement of these bones, which may help relieve your pain. Even so, you may feel more flexible after a fusion because you can move with less pain.
Types of spinal fusion surgery
Which section of the spine is fused depends on where your pain is. Sections of the spine that may be fused include:
The neck (called cervical fusion)
The midback (called thoracic fusion)
The lower back (called lumbar fusion)
Fusion can be done from the front (anterior), side (lateral), or back (posterior) of the body. Your surgeon will decide which is best for you.
Before your surgery
You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of the surgery. Be sure to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions on preparing for surgery.
Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.
If you take a daily medicine, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery.
If you are taking any blood-thinning medicines, including aspirin, make sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider at least a week in advance.
At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked. An IV (Intravenous) line will be started to provide fluids and medicines needed during surgery.
At the start of your surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia. This medicine will put you into a deep state like sleep through the surgery. An anesthesiologist is in charge of the anesthesia. He or she will meet with you before the surgery begins to talk to you and answer your questions.
After the surgery, you’ll go to the PACU or postanesthesia care unit. You’ll stay there until you are fully awake, usually a few hours. Then you’ll go to your room. With cervical fusion, you may go home the next day. With lumbar fusion, you may stay in the hospital for 2 to 7 days.
When to call the surgeon
Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms during your recovery:
Increased pain, redness, or drainage from the incision
New onset numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control
Fever over 100.0°F (37.7°C)
Signs of a blood clot, which can include swelling, redness, and pain in the calf
Chest pain or shortness of breath
December 17, 2017
Image reviewed by StayWell art team.,Joseph, Thomas N., MD,Sather, Rita, RN