A thoracic posterior instrumented fusion is a type of surgery that places screws, rods and bone within the spine in an effort to fuse the vertebrae together. The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae or bones within the middle of your back. In between the thoracic vertebrae are disks that help absorb impact and space the vertebrae apart. There are a variety of reasons why we may recommend a fusion of the thoracic spine including degenerative disc disease, a disc herniation, thoracic nerve irritation (radiculopathy), thoracic spinal cord pinching (stenosis), kyphosis, scoliosis, or even a thoracic vertebrae fracture.
There are different approaches for a thoracic posterior instrumented fusion. There is the minimally invasive approach using robotic guidance to put in screws within the vertebra through small incisions. Or the traditional midline approach by exposing the anatomy so the surgeon can place the screws either free hand or using robot guided assistance.
We recommend restrictions for usually around 3 months. This can include minimizing motion of the spine and a lifting restriction. Your provider will guide you through your recovery including when to start physical therapy and weaning off pain medications.
We get x-rays of the patient’s fusion at regular intervals post operatively to monitor the fusion and to assess the progress of the patient.
Your thoracic spine does have a small amount of range of motion but for the most part is more rigid than your neck and low back. Therefore, people with selective thoracic posterior instrumented fusions typically don’t have as much range of motion restriction as a cervical or lumbar fusion.
Expect a 2-4 day stay in the hospital after a thoracic fusion. It really comes down to how comfortable the patient feels afterwards to return home with family or friend help.
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.