In surgery of the spine, especially spinal fusion, (also called arthrodesis), surgeons may decide to use bone grafts to assist in the healing and remodeling of the spine after surgery. Normally, small pieces of bone are placed into the space between the vertebrae to be fused, and sometimes larger solid pieces of bone provide immediate structural support. Spinal fusion involves the surgical treatment of abnormalities in the vertebrae, such as curvatures, scoliosis or kyphosis, or injuries (fractures). Bone grafts may be used in spinal fusion surgery involving the lower (lumbar) or upper (cervical) spine. Cervical spinal fusion joins selected bones in the neck.
This surgery may also be performed by other means, such as metal rods, which would not require bone grafts.
The surgeon does a clinical examination, and conducts tests to determine the necessity of a bone graft. Diagnostic tests determine the precise location of damage. These tests include x rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scan. They provide an image of the affected area, and indicate the exact amount of damage that has occurred due to the fracture or defect.
Orthopedic surgeries pose varying degrees of difficulty. The patient is instructed on what will take place during the procedure, as well as risks involved. A consent form is obtained before surgery.
The following activities will help the patient prepare for surgery.
thorough physician consult before surgery
banking some of his or her own blood in case a transfusion is needed
eating well to achieve good nutritional status before and after surgery
following a recommended exercise program before and after surgery.