Pseudoathrosis — Failed Fusion
Have Your Bones Healed Properly after Surgery?
One question Dr. Lattuga hears from patients that are going to be having a lumbar or cervical fusion is: How can I know if I have my bones have healed properly.
In general, it takes six to nine months for your bones to fuse properly after a spinal fusion surgery. Over that period your medical team should keep you on a series of restrictions: Examples; no heavy lifting, bending, twisting, or overly strenious activity. Your bones are working hard to fuse themselves back together (and to the instrumentation) after a lumbar or cervical fusion procedure. It is critical not to exert too much stress on your back until you have received proper clearance from your surgeon.
Dr. Lattuga will be checking on your progress during the months following your spine surgery. In having your spinal fusion with New York Spinal Specialists, you will have several follow up appointments so we can check on your progress. During those appointments Dr. Lattuga will, most likely order X-rays. X-rays are the most useful imaging tests to check on how your bones are healing and fusing after a lumbar fusion or cervical fusion, because they show accurate images of your bones.
In those X-rays, our team at New York Spinal Specialists are looking for evidence of a successful fusion. In rare instances bones may not fuse properly. One of the signs for pseudoarthrosis (failed fusion) is a halo formation on the X-ray. This appears around a screw used in the surgery to stabilize your spine until the bones fuse and area able to provide support and stability. If the fusion doesn’t happen as it should (pseudoarthrosis), the screws can loosen. These loose screws will show up with a ring around them—a halo formation—on the X-ray.
In order for our patients to show good improvement during that very vital first year after surgery, we place them under strict orders to give patients the greatest likely hood of a proper fusion. In successful surgeries, you should show improvement in pain and function (what you’re able to do); it may be slow at first, but as your bones heal and your body re-adjusts, you should notice a marked difference, especially when compared to your life and pain level before surgery. For this reason, after your spinal fusion it is critical to make all scheduled follow ups.