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Spinal Fusion 

A fusion is a surgical technique that involves eliminating the motion in between vertebrae by “welding” the bones together. By fusing the bones together, they heal into a single, solid unit. A fusion procedure may be recommended to eliminate painful motion, restore your alignment or posture, or provide stability to your spine. In certain cases, your surgeon may perform a laminectomy in addition to the fusion procedure if you have leg symptoms such as pain and numbness. Our goal is to identify that your degenerative disc is the cause of your ongoing symptoms. Fusion surgery is one way to treat your symptoms.

Types of Spinal Fusions

Anterior Cervical Corpectomy

A corpectomy is an effective procedure for removing spinal cord pressure by removing one or several vertebral bodies. For an anterior cervical corpectomy, the procedure is performed through a small incision on the front of the neck, usually in the neck’s natural crease.

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Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF)

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion may be performed to treat neck and nerve symptoms. Spinal fusion is a technique used to stabilize the spinal bones or vertebrae. The goal of a cervical fusion is to create a solid bridge of bone between two or more vertebrae. Spinal fusion may be recommended when the natural disc space has decreased or the spine is unstable. For an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, the procedure is performed through a small incision on the front of the neck, usually in the neck’s natural crease.

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Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion is an innovative technique to remove degenerative discs in your lumbar spine. Using a minimally invasive approach, the procedure is done from the front of the spine and creates a solid bridge between at least two vertebrae. The goal of this surgical technique is to alleviate pain, numbness or tingling caused by a degenerative lumbar disc.

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Hybrid Cervical Spine Surgery

Hybrid cervical spine surgery is an innovative procedure that combines the stability of a traditional spinal fusion with the mobility granted with an artificial disc replacement. It is created to resolve the pain and tingling/ numbness associated with disc disease. The spinal surgeons at the Virginia Spine Institute were the first in the Nation to perform this surgery.

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Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF, DLIF)

Using a minimally invasive approach, the surgeon will separate the tissue fibers to approach the side of the spine. This a great approach that realigns the spine and decompress the nerves without disrupting a lot of soft tissues in the back of the spine with a bigger incision.

The acronym DLIF stands for direct lateral interbody fusion and XLIF for eXtreme lateral interbody fusion; both refer to the same surgical technique.

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Lumbar Posterior Instrumented Fusion

A posterior instrumented fusion involves the placement of screws and rods. This can be done for interbody fusion or for deformity surgery such as scoliosis or kyphosis. With this procedure, innovative technology can be utilized which allows your surgeon to visualize the placement of hardware during this procedure. This provides increased precision for accuracy of screw placement and less soft tissue cutting.

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Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) is a lumbar fusion surgery from the back. Bone is removed to create a window to open the spinal canal. This creates access to remove disc material in order to prepare the space for implants to fuse the bones together. Screws and rods are used to stabilize this fusion process.

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Sacroiliac Joint Fusion

The sacroiliac joint, commonly referred to as the “SI joint”, is a strong, weight bearing joint in the lower back that connects the sacrum and the pelvis. There are two joints in total that move together as a single unit to act as shock absorbers for the spine. There is a small amount of movement in the joint, but normally the SI joint should fit together like a lock and key.

While sacroiliac joint dysfunction is often treated conservatively using physical therapy, medication, and SI joint injections, if the pain persists a sacroiliac joint fusion may be recommended with the goal of stabilizing the joints.

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Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)

Spinal fusion is a technique used to stabilize the spinal bones or vertebrae. The goal of lumbar fusion is to create a solid bridge of bone between two or more vertebrae. Spinal fusion may be recommended when the natural disc space has decreased or the spine is unstable. Interbody fusion involves placement of fusion implants and bone graft into the area between two vertebral bodies and is an effective method for achieving fusion.

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Kyphosis Correction

Kyphosis correction surgery can be accomplished using minimally invasive robot-guided spine surgery. This exciting technology allows our surgeons to create and plan an individualized blueprint of the patient’s surgery using their own anatomy before stepping in the operating room.
This surgical correction does involve implantation of screws and rods that work together to correct the spinal deformity, stabilizing the spine. With time the spine will fuse as one solid piece in a new more normal alignment. This allows improvement in the patient’s quality of life by correcting his or her deformity and preventing further curve progression and worsening of symptoms.

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Scoliosis Correction

Scoliosis and deformity corrective surgeries help to realign the spine in patients with abnormal curvatures.  Please call us for a consultation. Our scoliosis experts will help you understand the prognosis of your spine. We will help you develop a solution that could be managed non-operatively or review different surgical solutions for your best interest. 

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Benefits of Spinal Fusion

  • Eliminate painful motion
  • Restore your alignment or posture
  • Provide stability to your spine

Spinal Fusion FAQs

Why would you have a spinal fusion?

One of the main reasons for a patient to have a spinal fusion is because there is abnormal motion of the spine. Spondylolisthesis, or forward slippage of one vertebra over another, can result in back pain and nerve pressure which results in sciatica (radiating pain, tingling, and numbness down the leg). Fusions hold the spine in a proper position, and take the pressure off the nerve.

A second reason for a spinal fusion is abnormal spinal posture, such as scoliosis. When the spine has a curve, or is hunched forward too far, it can result in tremendous back and leg pain. Fusions straighten the spine and hold it in a better position, which takes the pain away.

A third common reason is to treat painful discs. Disc degeneration and resulting pain is very common. A spinal fusion removes the bad disc and eliminate the painful motion.

Meet Our Spinal Surgeons

Dr. Thomas Schuler

Spine Surgeon
Founder of Virginia Spine Institute
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Christopher Good

Spine Surgeon
President of Virginia Spine Institute

Dr. Colin Haines

Spine Surgeon
Director of Research

Dr. Ehsan Jazini

Spine Surgeon

Videos About Spinal Fusion

What is a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?

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