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Surgical Procedures

TRAINING AND COMPASSION  |  We use both to ensure our patients are well cared for.

Advanced Procedures

Spinal Fusion:
Vertebral interbody fusion; Posterior spinal fusion; Arthrodesis; Anterior spinal fusion; Spine surgery – spinal fusion

You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).
Your surgeon has several choices about where to make the incision (cut).
The surgeon may make an incision on your back or neck over the spine. You will be lying face down on a special table. Muscles and tissue are separated to expose the spine.

  • The surgeon may make a cut through one side of your belly (for surgery on your lower back). The surgeon will use tools called retractors to gently separate, hold the soft tissues and blood vessels apart, and have room to work.
  • The surgeon may make the cut on the front of the neck, toward the side.
  • Other surgery, such as a diskectomy, laminectomy, or a foraminotomy, is almost always done first.
  • The surgeon will use a graft (such as bone) to hold (or fuse) the bones together permanently. There are several different ways of fusing vertebrae together:
  • Strips of bone graft material may be placed over the back part of the spine.
  • Bone graft material may be placed between the vertebrae.
  • Special cages may be placed between the vertebrae. These cages are packed with bone graft material.
  • The surgeon may get the graft from different places:
  • From another part of your body (usually around your pelvic bone). This is called an autograft. Your surgeon will make a small cut over your hip and remove some bone from the back of the rim of the pelvis.
  • From a bone bank, called allograft.
  • A synthetic bone substitute can also be used, but this is not common yet.
  • The vertebrae are often also fixed together with screws, plates, or cages. They are used to keep the vertebrae from moving until the bone grafts fully healed.
  • Surgery can take 3 to 4 hours.


  • Back and neck pain/injury
  • Cervical and lumbar disc herniation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spinal cysts
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spine trauma/fractures
  • Spine tumors


  • Risks for any surgery are:
  • Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs
  • Breathing problems
  • Infection, including in the lungs (pneumonia), or bladder or kidney
  • Blood loss
  • Heart attack or stroke during surgery
  • Reactions to medications
  • Risks for spine surgery are:
  • Infection in the wound or vertebral bones
  • Damage to a spinal nerve, causing weakness, pain, loss of sensation, problems with your bowels or bladder
  • The spinal column above and below the fusion are more likely to cause other back later.