Posterior Spinal Fusion

Treating spinal deformity

Posterior spinal fusion is often necessary for patients with scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, or other degenerative diseases that cause spinal deformity. Degenerative conditions and abnormal spinal curves may lead to the premature wear and tear of intervertebral discs and joints, nerve compression, and other spinal problems.

The posterior spinal fusion procedure is used to fuse or combine two or more vertebrae, enhancing spinal stability. The fusion process usually involves two stages — first, an implant material offers immediate stability; second, a bone grafting material encourages bone growth to offer long-term spinal stability. The entire fusion process may take several months.

Dr. Brian McHugh specializes in the latest and most advanced minimally invasive surgeries. However, he only recommends posterior spinal fusion after attempting non-invasive treatment options, such as corticosteroid injections, medications, and physical therapy. If everything fails, he may recommend posterior spinal fusion as a last resort.

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What happens during posterior spinal fusion?

Posterior spinal fusion can be accomplished using several different methods, including minimally invasive spine surgeries. The procedure must be done after the damaged or herniated disc is removed, and it may or may not include implant placement. Bone grafts are necessary because they facilitate natural bone growth, thus naturally stabilizing the spine.

The following are the steps involved in posterior spinal fusion:

  • The surgeon accesses the spine through the front (anterior), back (posterior), or both.
  • The posterior fusion procedure is usually done in the thoracic (upper back) or lumbar (lower back) spine.
  • The bone grafting material is placed between the vertebrae.

The aforementioned steps provide an extremely broad overview of posterior spinal fusion. The specific steps depend on the procedures used, the type and location of the bone grafting material, and whether an implant is used. The procedure may also include imaging software, robotic navigation, neuro-navigation, and disc replacement.

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“The staff was very helpful & friendly. Dr. McHugh listened to what I had to say about my respective issues. His office then called - made my appointments - it could not have gone any smoother than it did.”

What are the bone grafting options?

Bone grafting is the most essential step of posterior spinal fusion because it encourages natural bone growth to maintain intervertebral spaces. The following are some of the bone grafting options:

  • The bone grafting material can be derived from the patient’s own body, such as the pelvic region.
  • The bone grafting material can also be harvested from the same region as the decompression, eliminating the need for a separate procedure.
  • The bone grafting material can be taken from an external host from a bone bank.
  • Stem cells or synthetic bone grafts can also be used.
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What happens after the posterior spinal fusion?

After the procedure, your vitals will be monitored in the recovery room. You may be given pain medications to manage post-operative pain and discomfort. Patients generally spend 2 to 5 days in the hospital after the posterior spinal fusion procedure. Dr. McHugh will carefully discuss the post-operative recovery guidelines before you’re discharged from the hospital. He’ll discuss your medications, activity limitations, follow-up appointments, etc., to help you recover smoothly. Your physical therapy may start six weeks after the surgery, and the complete recovery process may take three to six months. Dr. McHugh will be with you through every stage of the recovery process to ensure you regain complete spinal mobility.

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631-780-4470

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