Instrumented spinal surgery utilizes surgical procedures to implant titanium, titanium-alloy, non-metallic, or stainless steel devices into the spine. Instrumentation provides a permanent solution to spinal problems and is used to decompress and stabilize the spine. These devices can be implanted from the posterior (back) of the spine or from the anterior (front) of the spine.
Medical implants are specially designed and are available in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different patients of all ages. Scientists, engineers and surgeons are working round the clock to develop and refine implants to improve the patient’s outcome from surgery. Advances are made in medical science and implants enable surgeons to correct deformities and promote spinal fusion
Spinal implants can be summarized as follows:
- Rods: Rods are used along with hooks and screws or plates, screws: Plates are made with holes through which screws are fitted to the plates in to proper position. Most of these implants are made of metal (titanium) but still some are made from plastic. Screws are generally made from metals and plates are also made from composite materials which dissolve after fusion occurs.
- Clamps: they are generally made from titanium but are rarely used today.
- Hooks: Used along with rods.
- Braided cables
- Interbody cages: they are placed between two vertebrae to provide support and stability.
Implants used in posterior are different from those used in anterior spine surgery.
The benefits of posterior implants are:
- They increase spine stability immediately after surgery.
- They stabilize the spine during healing.
- They improve the spine curvature.
- They increase the chances of successful solid fusion.
- In cases of fracture they reduce pressure on the spinal cord and nerve.