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The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr.

Spinal Fusion Surgery and Critical Information that you Need to Know when you are Injured

Frank J. Dito, Jr.
Car accident, personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney serving Staten Island and Brooklyn New York.

The need for spinal fusion surgery can result from a variety of different accidents. Spinal fusion surgery may occur because of injuries sustained in serious car accidents or construction accidents. For you, your spinal injuries that may require spinal fusion surgery can result in severe and chronic pain and will require long term medical treatment. If you suffered a serious spinal injury as a result of an accident or another person's negligence, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr. can help you.

Spinal fusion surgery is usually recommended if the cause of your back pain seems to be motion between segments of your spine, spinal fusion may be a way to prevent the motion and stop the pain. Surgery is usually performed when one or more herniated discs or degenerative disease is present, causing severe pain. Spinal fusion surgery involves permanently connecting two or more of your vertebrae together with bone grafts and metal plates and screws. Spinal fusion is permanent and generally takes away some mobility and does not always provide complete relief from your pain. Future risks include that other disks above and below the fusion may be affected by the reduced mobility. Almost 30% of patients that have received spinal fusion surgery may need a second surgery within 10 years.

Despite the risks, spinal fusion has become an increasingly popular treatment for back pain known as discogenic pain. Discogenic pain is pain that originates in the area of a particular disk and is not caused by other issues, such as sciatica. Usually, if you have a herniation or a spinal deformity such a scoliosis, you may be a candidate for spinal fusion surgery. 

 

Spinal fusion surgery is a last resort and your doctor will exhaust all nonsurgical treatments before scheduling surgery. Prior to your surgery, your doctor will schedule an MRI or CT scan, as well as a test called a diskogram. During a diskogram, dye is injected into your spinal column so that the doctor may be able to better “see” the source of your pain. Besides helping to visualize the spine and the individual disks,  the injection sometimes produces pain similar to the type that you have been experiencing, which helps your doctor to further pinpoint the disk that is causing your pain.

Spinal fusion surgery requires general anesthesia and may take from one to twelve hours, depending on how extensive the required surgery is and the technique your surgeon uses. Surgery may involve a large incision over your spine, or may be done using newer techniques that require smaller incisions and therefore less recovery time.  The surgery may be performed to the spine from the front or the back, depending on whether the cervical, lumbar or thoracic spine is involved.

To fuse the spine, small pieces of extra bone are needed to fill the space between two vertebrae. These pieces of bone may come from your own body, which is known as autogenous bone, and harvested prior to your surgery. Autogenous bone is usually better tolerated by your body and heals quicker. You may also choose to use an allograft, which is bone donated from another person, usually a cadaver. The benefit of the cadaver bone is that it eliminates the need for the additional surgery to remove the bone from your own body. Metal rods, screws and plates are sometimes used to immobilize the disks while the grafts heal.

Depending on the spinal level, the doctor may perform a discectomy in conjunction with spinal fusion, where the injured disc is removed relieving pressure on the spinal cord. The space from the removed disc is filled with a bone graft, and stabilizing hardware is inserted.

If you have suffered an injury that has caused you to undergo spinal fusion surgery, make sure that you received the best medical care with an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon; maintain a record of your medical treatment; avoid speaking with any insurance adjusters before you speak to a personal injury attorney; and if you have suffered as spinal injury, you need the advice of an experienced Staten Island, New York personal injury attorney. Call Frank J. Dito, Jr. today at (800) 310-5520 for your free consultation.