Benefits of Spinal Fusion Surgery
Relieves Chronic Pain
Spinal fusion eliminates painful movement between the vertebrae, relieving the pain and other symptoms associated with a variety of spine conditions.
For those with unstable spines or who have had decompressive surgery, spinal fusion can strengthen and stabilize the spine to prevent further wear and tear.
Certain spinal conditions make movement painful. Spinal fusion surgery can reduce pain and immobility, allowing you to get back to doing your favorite activities.
Am I a Candidate for Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is usually only considered when conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and steroid injections, haven’t worked for relieving symptoms. It can be a final, more permanent solution for a variety of conditions, including:
When you visit with our Long Island spinal fusion surgeon, Dr. Choi, he’ll take detailed information about your symptoms and collect your health history. He’ll then perform a comprehensive physical exam and order imaging tests. This will allow him to pinpoint the source of your pain and determine if spinal fusion is the best option for you. If it is, Dr. Choi will discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery, so you can make an informed choice.
The Spinal Fusion Procedure
At Spine Medicine & Surgery of Long Island, Dr. Choi takes one of two main approaches to spinal fusion surgery:
Interbody fusion is performed to alleviate symptoms caused by damaged discs and pinched nerves. Dr. Choi can access the spine:
- through the abdomen using anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
- through the side of the abdomen with extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)
- through the back with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
Once Dr. Choi reaches the disc, he removes the damaged portion that’s compressing the nerves, while keeping the outer wall intact. A bone graft or spacer is then placed where the damaged part of the disc was. Finally, Dr. Choi uses metal screws and rods to hold the vertebrae together. As you heal, your own bone grows around the screws and rods, fusing the vertebrae.
Dr. Choi begins the posterolateral fusion procedure by making a small incision in the lower back. He then gently moves the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments aside to access the affected levels of the spine.
In order to provide the necessary stability, Dr. Choi inserts metal rods and screws and then places a bone graft around the hardware. The bone graft helps you grow new bone, which fuses the spine together.
Dr. Choi can perform spinal fusion surgery in hospitals throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You’ll stay in the hospital for a few days after the procedure so he can keep tabs on your progress and healing. While you’re in the hospital, physical therapists will teach you how to safely get out of bed, walk and sit during your recovery period.
It can take about six months to a year before you’re fully healed from your spinal fusion surgery. Regular physical therapy will be necessary as you recover. You’ll also have to avoid heavy lifting, bending and twisting.