Arthrodesis of the dorsal vertebrae is a surgical technique that allows one to join bones in the shoulder portion of the spine to stabilize it in order to reduce any pain or deformity.
What is the fusion of the dorsal vertebrae?
The fusion of the dorsal vertebrae allows unification of the bones of the back spine with or without the insertion of metallic (steel or titanium) and non-metallic implants (screws, hooks, rods, plates). Since the union is solid a bone graft may be necessary, which is often taken from the iliac crest, but it may also come from the tibia, from one coast of the patient, from a donor or it may be of synthetic origin.
Which patients can undergo arthrodesis of the dorsal vertebrae?
Arthrodesis of the dorsal vertebrae is indicated for patients suffering from scoliosis, kyphosis, tumours, instability, fractures or degeneration of the intervertebral discs.
Why is hospitalization required?
The procedure is performed through a posterior approach by drilling in the central area of the back. In cases where the anterior approach is performed, the incision is done in the side portion of the chest instead. The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. In cases of scoliosis the operation can last up to 4 hours. Additionally, the anterior approach requires the patient to keep a tube in the chest for the first few days after surgery.
What are the advantages of arthrodesis of the dorsal vertebrae?
Typically, grafts from a donor do not heal as well as those made with bone fragments taken from the same patient. Moreover, when the procedure is performed without the insertion of implants there is a small possibility of dislocation that may later require additional surgery.
Is fusion of the dorsal vertebrae painful and/or dangerous?
Arthrodesis of the dorsal vertebrae is a safe procedure provided that experienced and highly specialized surgeons perform it. However, there is a possible risk of damage to the spinal cord, bleeding during the procedure or post-operative pain.
The healing process takes at least three months. Meanwhile, the patient may be required to use busts (or corset), but complete immobility is not recommended. In fact, it is recommended that patients walk as much as possible without making excessive efforts (such as lifting). Moreover, the healing process of the bone graft will be monitored through the use of X-rays. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a CT (Computer tomography) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after the procedure. In general, at the end of the first three months of the recovery process it is possible to consider physiotherapy.
Standards of preparation
On the day of admission (day of the procedure), the patient is required to bring the results of all tests carried out prior to the procedure and follow the instructions given by a doctor regarding food and drugs that are routinely employed.