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Spinal Fusion

During spinal fusion, your surgeon locks together, or fuses, some of the bones in your spine. 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 Five health care providers wearing surgical gowns, masks, and hats doing 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 lower back (called lumbar fusion )

Fusion can be done from the front (anterior) side of the body or the back (posterior) side 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 doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery.

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.

  • If you take a daily medication, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

  • If you are taking any blood-thinning medications, including aspirin, make sure to discuss them with your doctor at least a week in advance.

  • At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked. An IV (Intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.

When to call the surgeon

Call if you have any of these symptoms during your recovery:

  • Increased pain, redness, or drainage from the incision

  • Fever over 100.0°F (37.7°C)

  • Signs of a blood clot, which can include swelling and pain in the calf

Anesthesia

At the start of your surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia. This medication will make you “sleep” through the surgery. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist 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 surgery

After the surgery, you’ll go to the 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 will stay in the hospital for 2 to 7 days.

 

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