Spinal Fusion

Spinal Fusion is a surgical procedure performed by Spinal Surgeons to treat various conditions in the lower back that aim to reduce pain, address instability or nerve compression. It can also be use to treat severe traumatic or chronic conditions surrounding the spinal column. This is a medical procedure used to connect two or more vertebrae in the spine, thereby restoring stability and easing chronic back pain.

This process is similar to welding, in which the goal is to permanently fuse two separate parts into a single solid unit.

Spinal fusion is usually done by implanting a bone graft — whether artificial or harvested from the patient or a donor — in between the vertebrae to be fused. This bone graft is what allows the two vertebrae to heal into one unit. It also stimulates bone production and facilitates quicker healing. This may be augmented with titanium metallic implants like (pedicle) screws.


What Conditions Do Spinal Fusion Surgery Solve?

In Singapore, back pain surgery is not normally recommended unless the pain is persistent and worsening despite taking prescribed medicines and undergoing physiotherapy.

Spinal fusion may be recommended to treat the following:

  • Spinal Deformity, Fracture and Injury
    Most broken vertebrae heal on their own without any treatment, but if the injury has caused an instability in the spinal column, spinal fusion may be necessary to support the spine and prevent further damage. This procedure also corrects congenital or acquired spinal deformities such as scoliosis, lordosis or kyphosis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
    This condition refers to back or neck pain caused by aging, normal wear-and-tear of a spinal disc, and in some cases, injuries. Pain intensity ranges from mild to severe, in which case the damaged disc will need to be replaced or removed. The affected vertebrae will then be fused together to keep them from rubbing against each other and to prevent painful movements.
  • Herniated Disc
    Similar to degenerative disc disease, the replacement or removal of the affected disc is necessary to treat a herniated disc. This condition occurs when the disc ruptures or is displaced due to overuse or injury. Spinal fusion is done to immobilize the affected vertebrae and stabilize the spine once the disc is removed.
  • Spondylolisthesis
    This spinal condition occurs when a bone in the lower vertebra shifts forward onto the bone directly below it. Spinal fusion may be performed to alleviate chronic back pain and prevent nerve crowding/compression that leads to numbness.
  • Spinal Stenosis
    This condition is defined as the narrowing of the spinal canal, which causes nerve compression and leads to pain, numbness and muscle weakness. It is typically caused by osteoarthritis and bone spurs. Spinal fusion is necessary if there is severe pain, or if the condition has caused the spine to become unstable.

Most of the time, Singapore spine pain surgery centers recommend the combination of spinal fusion with physiotherapy sessions to better restore form and function to the spine.


Spinal Fusion Procedure

As with most options for spinal fusion surgery in Singapore today, spinal fusion may be done either via a traditional open or minimally invasive approach . Apart from the size of the initial incision and the manner by which the site is accessed, however, the rest of the procedure stays the same. The process takes several hours and is conducted under general anesthesia.

Spinal fusion can be done in one of two ways: through the belly or abdomen (anterior lumbar interbody fusion) or from the back (posterior fusion).

Once the incision is created and the surgeon has full access to the spine, bone graft will be placed between the two vertebrae to be fused. The bone graft may be taken from the patient (autograft) or a donor (allograft), or purely artificial. Titanium screws and rods are also used to keep the graft in place as the spine heals.


Spinal Surgery in Singapore

Well-trained and recognized in the field of general orthopaedics, Dr Chua Soo Yong is known for his experience in performing spinal fusion and complex spinal surgery in Singapore.

Dr Chua’s clinic, Atlas Orthopaedic Group, is also known for its effective management of sports injuries and conditions affecting the spine, joints and limbs. Schedule a consultation today by calling 6262-0555.