Spinal fusion is an operation to weld or fuse together the small bones in your back eliminating motion that is causing back pain.
Spinal fusion is sometimes recommended to treat:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spondylolisthesis (where a vertebra slips forward or backward)
- Spinal tumours
- Spinal fractures
- Spinal stenosis
- Scoliosis (curved spine)
- Infections in the spinal canal
What happens during spinal fusion?
Spinal fusion is usually done under general anaesthetic. The procedure can take 3-4 hours.
There are several methods and surgical approaches used during spinal fusion. Some involve bone graft or the insertion of titanium plates, screws or rods. Be sure and discuss what method will be used with your consultant.
After spinal fusion
Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the recovery area. Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff. When you are stable a nurse will take you to your room.
Once you are back in your room, our nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well. After you’ve recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink.
You may have a catheter to drain your bladder. This will usually be taken out the day after your surgery.
Your length of stay in hospital will depend on the extent of your spinal fusion. You will be given pain medication but be sure and let us know if you are still having discomfort.
A physiotherapist will teach you how to move around on your own. Your movements will be restricted until the fusion is confirmed. This will mean no twisting or bending.
You may need to wear a back brace during your recovery. To prevent blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) you may need to wear compression stockings.
Going home after spinal fusion
You will not be able to drive until released to do so by your consultant. Please arrange for someone to drive you home on your day of discharge.
Continue to take any pain medication as prescribed.
Keep any dressings covering your surgical wound clean and dry. You should not take a bath or swim until released to do so.
Avoid sitting for long periods. Do not lift anything heavy until your fusion has been confirmed (at least the first 6 weeks).
Take short walks during the first two weeks of recovery – increasing the distance after that time. You should not engage in any strenuous activity until released to do so by your consultant. This includes housework such as vacuuming and heavy cleaning.
Your stitches or staples will be removed by your GP or practice nurse 10-14 days after surgery.
Your consultant may recommend physiotherapy to help you learn to do everyday activities while protecting your back. Therapy may also include exercises to strength the muscles in your back.
About six weeks after your surgery you will need to come back for an x-ray. Your surgeon will confirm if your fusion has occurred and give you advice on increasing any activity.
It can take several months to recover from spinal fusion. Discuss any return to work with your consultant.
Most people make a good recovery from spinal fusion. As with any procedure there can be complications:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
- Reaction to anaesthetic
Specific complications of spinal fusion may include:
- Failed fusion
- Continued back pain
- Nerve damage
- Increase wear and tear in another part of your spine
Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?
67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW
Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH
Brighton01273 624 488
Warren Road, Brighton, BN2 6DX
Bristol0117 906 4870
3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN
Cambridge01223 370 922
4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF
Cardiff and Vale02920 836700
Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN
Chester01244 680 444
Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP
78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB
Exeter01392 276 591
Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG
Glasgow0141 334 9441
25 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow, G12 0PJ
Haywards Heath01444 456999
Burrell Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1UD
Leeds0113 388 2111
2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB
Leicester0116 276 9401
Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY
Newcastle upon Tyne01912 816 131
Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP
Beech Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7RP
Plymouth01752 775 861
Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG
Taunton01823 286 991
Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN
Tees01642 360 100
Junction Road, Norton, Stockton on Tees, TS20 1PX
Tunbridge Wells01892 531 111
Kingswood Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4UL
Shores Road, Woking, GU21 4BY
York01904 715 000
Haxby Road, York, YO31 8TA
Our prices are all-inclusive. We will equal any comparable price. There are no time limits on your aftercare.
Get in touch
Fill in an enquiry form below or call us
A member of the team will respond to you soon.