Non-Union after Spine Fusion Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery, Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 10, 2015

7658325_lWe have talked previously about when and why spine surgeries fail. Now we are going to tackle a specific type of failed spine surgery called a non-union. In this article, we are going to discuss the potential causes of a non-union after spine fusion surgery. We will also offer some common signs of non-union and tips for avoiding non-unions.

Causes of Non-Union

A non-union occurs when a spinal fusion procedure fails and the vertebral bones do not fuse together successfully. The goal of a spinal fusion is to stabilize the spinal column and provide support to any degenerative vertebra. This is done through a bone graft typically. This union can take up to a couple years to complete, and spinal hardware keeps the spine in line while the union is forming. Sometimes unions do not take. A non-union can be caused by several factors and can be higher in patients who smoke, are overweight, or who have had radiation treatment. 

There are several symptoms that may indicate an unsuccessful union after spinal fusion surgery. Here are a few warning signs:

  • Pain that does not resolve
  • Mobility failing to improve
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation

Tips for Avoiding Non-Union

Here are a few simple tips to avoid a non-union after your spine surgery:

  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Lose weight if necessary and exercise regularly.
  • Communicate with your surgeon.

Your surgeon will be monitoring your recovery closely after surgery. If you have concerns at any time or believe that your fusion may be failing, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have.

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