Why it's done

Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine to improve stability, correct a deformity or reduce pain. Your doctor may recommend spinal fusion to treat the following spine problems:

  • Broken vertebrae. Not all broken vertebrae require spinal fusion. Many heal without treatment. But if a broken vertebra makes your spinal column unstable, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary.
  • Deformities of the spine. Spinal fusion can help correct spinal deformities, such as a sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or abnormal rounding of the upper spine (kyphosis).
  • Spinal weakness or instability. Your spine may become unstable if there's abnormal or excessive motion between two vertebrae. This is a common side effect of severe arthritis in the spine. Spinal fusion can be used to restore spinal stability in such cases.
  • Spondylolisthesis. In this spinal disorder, one vertebra slips forward and onto the vertebra below it. Spinal fusion may be needed to treat spondylolisthesis if the condition causes severe back pain or nerve crowding that produces leg pain or numbness.
  • Herniated disk. Spinal fusion may be used to stabilize the spine after removal of a damaged (herniated) disk.
Nov. 11, 2015
References
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  3. Herkowitz HN, et al. Principles of bone fusion. In: Rothman-Simeone The Spine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2015.
  4. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Spine Surgery. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  5. Ask Mayo Expert. Cervical spine surgery. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  6. McMahon SB, et al. Surgery for back and neck pain (including radiculopathies). In: Wall & Melzack's Textbook of Pain. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 21, 2015.
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  10. Riggin ER. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 23, 2015.