Spinal Fusion

WHAT IS IT?

spinalThis is a surgical procedure to eliminate motion between two or more vertebrae in the spine to help reduce neck and/or lower back pain. The surgeon inserts a bone graft and/or metal plates or rods in between two vertebrae to hold the vertebrae in a fixed position. The bone graft can be obtained from cadaver bone from a bone bank, or may be taken from your own body, usually the pelvis area. Then the normal bone healing and remodeling process forms new bone around the graft to stabilize the fusion and reduce pain.

ARE YOU A CANDIDATE?

There are a number of different problems related to the spine that cause severe pain and can be helped with spinal fusion. During your consultation with our spine surgeons, your physician will discuss the procedure that is best for your situation and medical needs. Some of the major types of spine problems that may cause pain and may benefit from spinal fusion surgery include:

  • Herniated inter-vertebral disks that press on the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause pain.
  • Spondylolisthesis, a vertebral condition in which one of the bony vertebrae slides forward and onto the one below it, causing pressure on the nerve roots leading to pain, muscle weakness, and/or numbness and tingling.
  • Osteoporosis-related compression fractures of the vertebrae, often caused by loss of estrogen in women or low testosterone in men.
  • Traumatic vertebral fractures that do not heal properly or lead to spinal instability
  • Severe arthritis of the spine, causing weakness or instability that causes pressure on the nerve roots producing pain.
  • Scoliosis or kyphosis, two common deformities of the spine that cause severe pain due to pressure on the nerve roots or can lead to numbness, muscle weakness, or even paralysis due to pressure on the spinal cord.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN I EXPECT?

Many patients experience significant pain relief, improved flexibility and exercise tolerance, improved sleep (due to less pain), and overall better quality of life following effective spinal fusion procedures. For maximum and long term benefit, however, patients need optimal physical therapy and a program of gradual increase in exercise to regain muscle strength and re-align the body to normal position for optimal flexibility and mobility. Massage therapy often helps reduce muscle spasm as the body adjusts to more normal alignment.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE RISKS?

Your risks of developing complications during surgery depends on several key factors: your general health before surgery, the skill of the surgeon and surgical team, the quality of the hospital facility. Any major surgery has potential general risks that we do our best to minimize by carefully evaluating all our patients with medical and surgical review and consultation before you ever leave home to do our best to be sure that:

  • you meet the appropriate criteria for the procedure,
  • you are medically stable to travel and undergo surgery,
  • you are mentally prepared and feel comfortable with your surgeon,
  • your surgeon has the right training and experience to meet your needs,
  • the hospital has all the facilities and equipment to properly carry out the surgery recommended.

Med Expert Chile has selected the leading surgeons in their fields and one of the top private hospitals in Santiago known for its meticulous attention to reducing risks of infection and complications during surgeries. With over 25,000 surgeries in 2013, our partner hospital had a 0.8% infection rate, one of the lowest in the world.

General risks of any major surgery can include, but not limited to, infection, excessive bleeding or blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesia, inadvertent damage to other tissues surrounding the surgical site, or in very rare cases, disability or death.

Specific risks known to be possible for your particular procedure will be discussed ahead of time by your surgeon.

We do everything possible to reduce these risks and help you feel comfortable and prepared to go forward with surgery.

WHAT DOES IT COST?

We do not sell “Off-the-shelf” surgeries at a fixed cost. We determine the right procedure for each person after our medical-surgical consultation to discuss your best options. A precise cost estimate can only be given after our Medical Director and Surgeons have completely evaluated your specific case and your medical needs and discussed all this with you.

In general, spinal fusion surgery costs approximately 65% lower than in the United States. See more information about cost savings and payment options.

Dennis is a US businessman living in Chile who suffered from severe back pain not helped by chiropractors and other treatment, so he elected to have lumbar laminectomy and spinal fusion surgery. But Dennis did NOT than return to the US – he chose to stay in Santiago to top tier medical care and much lower costs. Listen to Dennis explain why he chose Santiago, and why he is a very satisfied patient.