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Percutaneous Spinal Fusion

At a Glance

  • This minimally invasive procedure locks two or more vertebrae together to in order to stabilize the spine using various types of screws, rods, or plates.
  • Generally, the surgeon also performs an interbody (or disc) fusion with a cage implant.
  • Percutaneous spinal fusion treats Scoliosis, Spondylolisthesis, Facet Arthritis, Failed Back Surgery, Spinal Instability, Spinal Fractures, and Recurrent Disc Herniation.


Percutaneous fusion surgery uses fluoroscopy (television x-ray) and involves the placement of screws into the vertebral pedicles (two short, thick bone sections near the rear of the spine) through small incisions. The technique is both effective and less invasive to the spinal muscles than open surgery, in which a surgeon uses a scalpel or or other dissection instrument to cut through tissue in order to access the spine.

This procedure usually accompanies and supports an interbody fusion procedure, in which the surgeon places a bone graft between two vertebrae in the area usually occupied by the intervertebral disc.

The surgeon may also place a device between the vertebrae to maintain spine alignment, disc height, and weight bearing support. The intervertebral device is known as a fusion cage, a small hollow implant made from either plastic or titanium.

One criticism is that the screws and rods of a percutaneous spinal fusion can be high profile, meaning they can be prominently seen and felt in the muscle tissue after the operation. This is especially true in thin patients. Once the fusion is solid, the rods and screws can be removed if painful.

This procedure is technically demanding and is best performed for single-level fusion operations, or in cases where only two vertebrae are involved. However, more experienced surgeons can implant these devices at multiple levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

How effective is a percutaneous spinal fusion?
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