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For patients with spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or degenerative disc disease, spinal fusion is often necessary to correct deformity or stop excessive movement of the vertebrae. Degenerative conditions can cause spinal instability, leading to premature wear and tear of the intervertebral joints and nerve compression. An abnormal curve in the spinal column can cause similar problems.

With New York spinal fusion, the surgeon ‘locks” two or more vertebrae together in an attempt to increase spinal stability and relieve pain. Fusion does not happen immediately – it is a process that involves the insertion of stabilizing implants and bone grafts to “set” the bone; bony union occurs over a matter of months as the bones mend and grow together.

Procedure Overview

There are several ways to achieve spinal fusion for our NYC patients, including minimally invasive procedures. Posterior spinal fusion in NYC is done after a damaged disc has been removed. Not every fusion requires placement of hardware (i.e., plates, screws), but all require bone graft. Bone or bone substitutes used in the graft stimulate healing/bone growth, in addition to providing structure/maintaining space between vertebrae.

Posterior Spinal Fusion
  • The spine is approached from either the front (anterior), back (posterior), or a combination of front/back.
  • Posterior fusion is usually performed in the upper back (thoracic) and lower back (lumbar) regions.
  • Bone for the graft is taken from the patient (autograft) or obtained from a bone bank (allograft), then wedged into place between the vertebrae.
  • Imaging software, neuro-navigation, and robotics may be used, depending on the procedure.

Treatment of a broken bone in the spine is similar to treatment of a broken bone elsewhere in the body. Spinal fusion immobilizes the vertebrae (much like a cast) so that proper healing can occur. Posterior spinal fusion typically requires a brief hospital stay, with patients walking the day after surgery.

The Recovery

Recovery time is dependent on a variety of factors, but ultimately results in regained function and a return to an active quality of life. The total healing process, including the initial recovery period and physical therapy regimen, can take three to six months. In general, it progresses as follows for most of our NYC patients:

Posterior Spinal Fusion

Hospital Stay

A posterior spinal fusion typically requires a hospital stay of approximately two to five days. During that time, the focus is on wound care, pain management, and learning how to get in and out of bed safely, without bending or twisting the spine.

Recovery at Home

After being discharged from the NYC hospital, you will need to rest at home for a few weeks. During this time, you will slowly increase your movements and range of motion under Dr. Stieber’s guidance.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy will begin six weeks after surgery and can last for several months. Dr. Stieber will closely follow your progress and provide you with a personalized timeline for your return to normal physical activity.

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