Spinal fusion (overview)

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 16 May 2022

Spinal fusion is a broad term to denote the joining of two or more adjacent vertebral segments. Fusion can be congenital or acquired as a direct result of disease or deliberately following spinal surgery. 

Fusion of two or more adjacent segments is encountered either as an isolated, usually incidental, finding or in a variety of conditions with multiple other defects:

Many disease processes can result in fusion of adjacent vertebrae including: 

Numerous procedures have been developed over the years to fuse spinal segments to treat a variety of conditions (e.g. spondylolisthesis, unstable spinal fractures, disc protrusions). It should be noted that it is osseous fusion that confers long-term stability and that fusion solely with instrumentation will eventually fail 1.

One or more of the above-mentioned components can be utilized to achieve fusion. Some of the more common procedures include:

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: congenital isolated fusion
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  • Case 2: ankylosing spondylitis
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  • Case 3: Klippel-Feil syndrome
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  • Case 4: PLIF and posterior instrumentation
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  • Case 5: ACDF
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  • Case 6: PEEK cervical cage fusion
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  • Case 7: Cotrel-Dubousset instrumentation
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