Bone grafts, attaching bone to bone, are a frequently performed surgery in the United States. Many of them are autologous, where a piece of bone is taken from the person who is getting the bone graft (auto = self). When doctors take bone for an autologous graft, it is most often taken from the iliac crest, part of the pelvis.
Surgery for degenerative disc disease has traditionally been discectomy (removal of the disc) and spinal fusion. But with the new total disc replacement procedure, more patients are opting for this motion sparing technique. Fusion limits motion at the fused vertebral segments, whereas disc replacement tries to keep as much of the natural motion as possible. With either method, research has shown that total spinal motion is maintained, if not improved.
Surgeons removing synovial cysts from the spine have noticed some interesting things about these structures. Sometimes they are located quite a bit away from the joint they originate from. Sometimes they are on both sides of the joint. Sometimes they contain bits of joint cartilage, scar tissue, and even fragments of bone. These unusual findings led the researchers who wrote this article to study these cysts more closely and report on what they are made of and how they are formed.
So, you or someone you know is planning on having a spinal fusion. Lots of thoughts go through your mind as you prepare for the big day. Meanwhile, your surgeon is also giving the procedure some preplanning and preparation. Everything that can be done to minimize infection or other postoperative problems is considered. The surgeon will choose what type of bone graft material to use.
Bioabsorbable plates are fairly new to the spinal fusion scene. For a long time now, surgeons have used an approach called the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Anterior refers to the location of the incision and the way surgeon enters the spine (front of the neck). Anterior fusion is performed through the front of the spine to avoid the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Cervical refers to the neck and discectomy is the removal of the disc from between two vertebrae.