Spinal Fusion Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Spinal Fusion

Spinal surgery is done in order to make a permanent connection between two or more vertebrae in the human spine. Without motion between the vertebrae, there is little pain in the affected area.

A spinal fusion uses specialized techniques that are similar to how a bone heals in real life. The surgeon puts a piece of bone or a bone-like material between the two vertebrae. Then he uses rods, metal plates and screws inside the wound to hold the vertebrae together. Then the bones heal together at the site where the bone material was placed. The end result is a solid fusion.

The fusion makes the spine stiffer so you move differently than you did before the spine was fused. There is more stress placed on the vertebrae above or below the site of the surgery and these vertebrae are more likely to degenerate.

Spinal fusion is done for several reasons. If the surgeon believes you have the following problems, he might recommend spinal fusion. These problems include:

  • Having broken vertebrae. If the vertebrae aren’t healing normally, you may need to have a fusion to stabilize the spine.
  • Having spinal deformities. Things like scoliosis can be treated by fusing the spine so that it is much straighter than the spine used to be.
  • Spinal instability. If the two vertebrae are rubbing together in a way they are not supposed to, a spinal fusion is able to restore the stability of the spine and decrease the pain in the affected area.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This happens when an upper vertebra slides beneath a lower vertebra causing pain, numbness and disability. Spinal fusion can correct this problem and eliminate symptoms.
  • Herniated disk. This happens when an intervertebral disk squeezes out of the space it’s intended to be. The herniated disc fragment is removed and the spinal vertebrae are fused for extra stability.
  • Low back pain that is chronic. Some low back pain gets better after the spine is fused. There doesn’t have to be a specific disorder causing the pain. It can just be weakened spinal muscles. This is a questionable reason for treating chronic low back pain.

There are risks and complications from a spinal fusion that is usually a safe procedure to undergo. Some of the complications of spinal fusion include:

  • Infection. This can be a deep infection or a simple wound infection.
  • Poor healing of the wound. This can be due to aging, diabetes or infection.
  • Bleeding that cannot be controlled.
  • Blood clots in the deep leg veins or in the lungs.
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels near the site of the surgery.
  • Pain which stems from the site of the bone graft donation.

Spinal fusion has the capability of changing the way the spine works. It shifts the stressors away from the fused segments and onto the segments above and below the fusion. This leads to more wear and tear/degeneration of the other spinal segments so pain can happen in those areas.

The expectation after the spinal fusion is that the patient stays in the hospital for 2-3 days. There can be discomfort or true pain that is usually controlled with intravenous or injectable pain medications. Upon returning home, the patient should tell the doctor if any of the above occurs:

  • Wound drainage.
  • Redness of the wound area along with tenderness and local swelling.
  • The development of shaking chills.
  • Having a fever higher than 100 degrees F.

The actual fusion doesn’t take place for several months. This is why the plates and screws are used to fix the spine until the bones fuse together. A brace is used in some cases to keep the spine in the right position. At some point the patient will need physical therapy to learn how to move with the fused spine.

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