Spinal fusion surgery procedures are complex and are often undertaken to treat spinal imbalance and instability, painful discs, infections, or even tumors. Essentially, two vertebrae are fused in this procedure with carefully placed screws, cages, or plates of bone-like material. With time, the bones grow together and help to stabilize the patient’s spine. Although often the only option to provide patients with relief from chronic pain, fusion surgery has also been met with criticism.

Spinal surgeons and other spine specialists more frequently encounter back surgery patients who have experienced negative results than those who have enjoyed a positive outcome. Typically, patients who do well do not follow up. Spinal fusion surgery is a poor option for some, especially those who do not have a concrete diagnosis on the source and cause of their pain. However, many documented cases show fusion surgery improving activity levels and helping with pain. Any type of spinal surgery should be considered very carefully before action is taken.

Dr. Paul Saiz, MD
NASS Coding Committee member
Las Cruces Orthopaedic Associates
Las Cruces, NM