Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic back pain.

Almost all of the surgical treatment options for fusing the spine involve placement of a bone graft between the vertebrae. Bone grafts may be taken from the hip or from another bone in the same patient (autograft) or from a bone bank (allograft). Bone graft extenders and bone morphogenetic proteins (hormones that cause bone to grow inside the body) can also be used to reduce or eliminate the need for bone grafts.

Fusion may or may not involve use of supplemental hardware (instrumentation), such as plates, screws and cages. This fusing of the bone graft with the bones of the spine will provide a permanent union between those bones. Once that occurs, the hardware is no longer needed, but most patients prefer to leave the hardware in place rather than go through another surgery to remove it. Fusion can sometimes be performed via smaller incisions through MIS techniques. The use of advanced fluoroscopy, endoscopy and navigation has improved the accuracy of incisions and hardware placement, minimizing tissue trauma while enabling an MIS approach.

MIS Fusion Procedures

  • Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion
  • Minimally Invasive Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
  • Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • Minimally Invasive Posterior Thoracic Fusion




The American Assocation of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area.