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Minimally Invasive Fusion

Minimally invasive fusion is a laparoscopic surgical procedure used to fuse vertebra in the spine together. It offers many advantages over open spinal fusion, including a reduce risk of infection and drastically reduced recovery time as well. This treatment option can be used in a range of situations, including to treat scoliosis, spinal fractures, spine tumors and kyphosis. For more information on minimally invasive spine fusion, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute for an appointment by calling 855.576.4427 or 407.303.3410.

Why Is Spinal Fusion Needed?

Spinal fusion is necessary in many instances, including degenerative disc disease, and in some treatments for diseases like scoliosis and kyphosis. It can also be performed due to a herniated disc as well as in the case of spinal fractures. Spinal tumors can also require fusion, as can treating discogenic pain.

What Does Fusion Do?

Fusion is essentially nothing more than grafting new bone onto existing bone and then allowing them to grow together, or “fuse”. Because it’s minimally invasive, the incision is small, and not located on the back. Rather, it is made in the side of the chest. Through this incision the surgeon will retract the lungs and other organs from around the spine. A needle will be inserted into the disc space and an x-ray taken. This is to ensure that the surgeon is in the correct area before moving forward.

The disc in question will be removed, and spacers may be inserted into the space left between the vertebrae. The surfaces of the vertebrae where the graft will be inserted are then prepared for the procedure. Donor bone usually comes from the pelvis, though graft replacements can be used as well. Once the graft material is in place, instrumentation (hardware) is installed.

The hardware will be responsible for ensuring that the grafted bone fuses with the existing bone by holding it in place. In essence, minimally invasive fusion (and any other bone fusing techniques) trick the bone into thinking it has been fractured, thereby triggering the regrowth and healing process (which results in fusion).

Recovery Times and Considerations

Unlike other forms of spinal surgery, even minimally invasive fusion will require some recovery time. Because the incision is made in the chest, a chest tube will be installed to help with drainage for the first few days. Additionally, Dr. Chetan Patel will need to determine that spinal stability has been achieved before the patient is allowed to return home (fusion comes later – stability is provided by the hardware installed during surgery).

Walking will be encouraged as soon as possible. However, patients should avoid lifting anything heavy until their surgeon allows them. Fusion times can vary considerably from one patient to another. The surgeon will need to keep a close eye on progress, but it should require about three months. However, six or nine month times are not unheard of.

For more information about minimally invasive fusion or other spinal treatment options available, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute by calling 855.576.4427 or 407.303.3410.

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