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Anterior Posterior Spinal Fusion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.


Spinal fusion is surgery to repair vertebrae in your spine. Cervical spine fusion is usually done from the front. Thoracic and lumbar fusion surgeries are usually done from the back. During surgery, 2 or more vertebrae are joined together using bone grafts or implants, screws, and rods.

Vertebral Column


Before surgery:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you currently take. Include prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and food supplements. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking any of these before surgery, and when to stop.
  • You may be able to donate your own blood before surgery. The blood can be given back to you if you need a transfusion during surgery. You must have your blood taken and stored several days before surgery. A family member or friend with the same blood type can donate blood to be used during your surgery. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information on blood donation.

The night before surgery:

Follow your healthcare provider's directions for eating and drinking.

The day of surgery:

  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.
  • Do not wear contact lenses the day of surgery. You may wear your glasses.


What will happen:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. General anesthesia will be given to keep you asleep and free from pain during the surgery.
  • Incisions will be made in the front, back, or both sides of your body. One or more pieces of bone may be taken from another area of your body to use as grafts. Bone grafts or artificial bone will be placed between the vertebrae. Metal plates, screws, and cages may be placed to hold the vertebrae together while the bone grafts heal or to help straighten the spine.
  • The incisions will be closed with sutures. Drains may be used to remove fluid from around your incision. Bandages will be put over the incisions.

After surgery:

You will be taken to the recovery room or an intensive care unit (ICU). Healthcare providers will watch you very closely. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may have a cast or brace on after surgery.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.


Nerves in the area where the disc is removed could be injured. You may need to have more surgery to fix this problem. You may have temporary or permanent numbness or pain that limits movement. You may have problems controlling your bowel or bladder. If you are a man, you may have trouble getting or keeping an erection. A life-threatening blood clot may develop in your leg or arm. Tissue covering the spinal cord could be torn. This may cause fluid to leak out of the spinal cord. You may have to lie flat for a few days or may need surgery to fix this.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.