One of the many procedures performed by Dr. Elkanich is cervical, thoracic, or lumbar fusion. These are all various types of fusion in which excess bone is used from one area of the body or a bone bank to create a bridge before encouraging new bone growth. Fusion refers to at least one of the spinal vertebrae being fused or united so movement between them can’t occur anymore. Instead of welding the bones together like you would with metal, bone grafts are placed on strategic points of the spine. Over the course of several months, your body will heal these grafts over, joining the vertebrae together.
When Dr. Elkanich performs cervical fusion, the procedure involves the cervical spine, specifically the joints between the vertebrae. In some cases, this will be the ideal solution for neck problems, but surgeons will suggest non-invasive methods first. Anterior cervical fusion is done via an incision in the front portion of the neck and will reduce pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots due to herniated discs or bone spurs. Posterior cervical fusion is done via an incision on the back portion of the neck and can help recreate normal spine curvature or stabilize the spine.
Thoracic fusion is among the most common surgeries done to treat chronic back pain. Traditionally, this technique involved making an incision on the chest wall and taking out a rib to reach and repair the spine. There are now minimally invasive methods that only require small incisions and use an endoscopic camera and long-handled instruments.
Dr. Elkanich may perform lumbar fusion following trauma or a tumor in cases which the sine seems unstable or the surgery the patient needs to decompress their neural structures would create that spine instability. This is the most significant of the three types of fusion procedures performed.