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Spine Fusion Surgery

Spine Anatomy

The series of vertebrae which are separated by intervertebral discs is called the vertebral column. The vertebral column has four main functions within the body: to protect, support, provide stabilization, and movement.  The vertebral column provides protection by enclosing the spinal cord within the spinal canal.  It provides support by carrying the weight of the body above the pelvis.  The vertebral column also provides stabilization by acting as the central axis of the body, and it has roles in providing both posture and movement.

Regions of the Vertebral Column

The vertebral column may be categorized into regions.  These regions are often referred to as cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, and coccyx.  Some surgeons refer to the spinal column in these 5 regions, and others combine the sacrum and coccyx into a fourth region, by referring to it as the sacral region.

The cervical spine which is positioned at the top of the spine is located between the skull and the thoracic spine and is comprised of 7 vertebrae.  These vertebrae may be labeled C1 to C7 starting at the very top of the cervical spine and working down toward the thoracic spine.  The thoracic spine which is positioned between the cervical and lumbar spine is comprised of 12 vertebrae.  These vertebrae may be labeled T1 to T12 starting at the very top of the thoracic spine and working down toward the lumbar spine.  The lumbar spine which is positioned between the thoracic spine and the sacrum is comprised of 5 vertebrae.  These vertebrae may be labeled L1-L5 starting at the very top of the lumbar spine and working down toward the sacrum.  The sacrum is comprised of five naturally fused vertebrae and connects the lumbar spine to the coccyx.  The coccyx pertains to the lowest vertebrae in the body positioned below the sacrum.  The coccyx is commonly referred to as the “tail bone.”

Spinal Fusion

A spinal fusion is surgery performed to join two or more vertebrae into one single structure. The goal is to stop movement between the vertebrae and prevent back pain.

Your physician may recommend spinal fusion if no other treatment options have alleviated your back pain, or if you have an injury or certain medical condition, such as: degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spinal fractures and/or spinal tumors. There are several types of spinal fusion procedures and/or techniques available based on your individual circumstances.  All of this, including risks and benefits, should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional in order for you to make an informed decision regarding treatment options, and whether spinal fusion is right for you.

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Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement or another treatment is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risk of implant wear, loosening or failure, and pain, swelling and infection. Zimmer Biomet does not practice medicine; only a surgeon can answer your questions regarding your individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.