Ten years ago I had a spinal fusion for a disc problem. Now that same area has degenerated and I need a new fusion. The doctor is going to do what's called an interbody fusion. How is this better than my last fusion?

A common fusion method used to hold the vertebrae together from the outside uses two things: (1) bone chips from the hip and (2) metal screws and plates. Research has come up with interbody fusion as a new way to fuse the bones together from the inside out.

A special sponge with bone growth protein is put inside a titanium cage. The cage is placed between the vertebrae where the disc used to be. Bone cells start to grow and fill in and around the cage.

The advantages of the interbody fusion are:

  • Grafts fuse better when under pressure; interbody fusion between two vertebrae get a full load put on them through the spine.
  • The interbody space has more blood supply so healing is faster.
  • The interbody fusion holds the bones apart, restoring the normal disc height.
  • It's easier to tell if the fusion isn't working than when bone graft is used on the outside of the spine.