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Sacroiliac Joint Fusion 

Everything You Need to Know about Sacroiliac Joint Fusion 

Are you tired of grappling with persistent lower back pain that seems impervious to traditional treatments? Enter sacroiliac joint fusion – a surgical solution offering renewed hope for those afflicted by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to learn about sacroiliac joint fusion, empowering you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your health and well-being.

What is sacroiliac joint fusion?

Sacroiliac joint fusion is a surgical procedure aimed at stabilizing the sacroiliac joint by promoting the fusion of the sacrum and the ilium, two bones that form this critical joint. 

During the procedure, the surgeon typically uses implants, bone grafts, or a combination of both to facilitate fusion. The procedure aims to alleviate pain and restore stability to the pelvis by immobilizing the dysfunctional joint. 

Sacroiliac joint fusion is performed primarily to address chronic sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which can manifest as persistent lower back pain, buttock pain, and limited mobility. This dysfunction may arise from various conditions, including 

Who are good candidates for a sacroiliac joint fusion?

Good candidates for sacroiliac joint fusion typically exhibit chronic sacroiliac joint dysfunction that significantly impairs their quality of life despite conservative treatments. Other criteria include:

  • Have not experienced significant or lasting relief from their symptoms after conservative treatment options.
  • Symptoms significantly impair one’s ability to perform daily activities.
  • A diagnostic confirmation that there’s a sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
  • Has a stable medical history and is medically fit to undergo surgery. 

Ultimately, the decision to undergo sacroiliac joint fusion should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

How to prepare before the surgery?

Preparing for sacroiliac joint fusion surgery involves several steps to ensure a smooth and successful procedure and recovery.

  1. Medical evaluation

Undergo a thorough medical evaluation to assess your overall health and identify any pre-existing conditions or risk factors that may impact the surgery or recovery process.

  1. Pre-operative instructions

Your doctor may instruct you to stop certain medications, quit smoking, and maintain a balanced diet to prepare your body before the procedure. 

This may also include fasting for a certain period before the surgery, showering with a special antibacterial soap, and avoiding food or drink after midnight on the night before the procedure.

  1. Arrange transportation and support

Plan for transportation to and from the surgical facility on the day of the procedure, as you may need help to drive yourself home after the surgery. 

Arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you and provide support during the recovery period.

What happens during sacroiliac joint fusion surgery?

While specific techniques may vary depending on the surgeon’s preference and the patient’s individual needs, the general steps involved in the procedure typically include:

  1. Anesthesia

The surgical team administers anesthesia to ensure that you remain comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.

  1. Incision

The surgeon makes a small incision over the sacroiliac joint area, typically on the side of the body where the pain is located. In minimally invasive approaches, the incision may be smaller, while traditional open surgery may require a larger incision.

  1. Removal of cartilage

Using specialized surgical instruments and techniques, the surgeon carefully exposes the sacroiliac joint, ensuring optimal visualization of the joint surfaces.

The surgeon removes any damaged cartilage or tissue from the surfaces of the sacrum and ilium to prepare them for fusion. This creates a clean surface for the bone graft and promotes the formation of new bone tissue.

  1. Bone graft placement

A bone graft is placed between the surfaces of the sacrum and ilium to promote fusion. The bone graft may be obtained from the patient’s own body (autograft), usually from the pelvis or hip area, or from a donor (allograft). 

In some cases, synthetic bone graft substitutes or bone graft extenders may also be used.

  1. Implant placement

In addition to the bone graft, the surgeon may use implants such as screws, rods, plates, or cages to stabilize the joint and facilitate fusion. These implants help hold the bones in the desired position during fusion.

  1. Closure

Once the bone graft and implants are in place, the surgeon carefully closes the incision with sutures or staples. Sterile dressings may be applied to the incision site to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.

What to expect after the surgery?

After sacroiliac joint fusion surgery, you can expect a period of recovery during which your body heals and adjusts to the changes made during the procedure. 

Here’s what to expect after the surgery:

  1. Pain management

You may experience some discomfort or pain at the surgical site immediately after the procedure. Your healthcare team will provide pain medications to help manage your pain and ensure your comfort during the recovery process.

  1. Mobility 

While avoiding excessive strain on the surgical site is important, early mobilization is encouraged to prevent complications such as blood clots and promote healing. 

You should gradually increase your activity level and participate in gentle movements and exercises as tolerated.

  1. Activity restrictions

Your surgeon will provide specific activity restrictions and limitations during the initial recovery phase.

  1. Rehabilitation exercises

Physical therapy and rehabilitation play a crucial role in optimizing your recovery and restoring function to the affected joint. 

Your healthcare team may recommend a personalized rehabilitation program consisting of exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the sacroiliac joint, improve flexibility, and promote proper biomechanics.

  1. Follow-up appointments

You will need to attend follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress, evaluate the healing of the surgical site, and address any concerns or complications that may arise. 

These appointments are an opportunity to discuss your recovery goals and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

By following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions, staying proactive in your recovery, and seeking support from your healthcare team, you can optimize your recovery and achieve the best possible outcomes after sacroiliac joint fusion surgery.

Where to find the best outpatient orthopedic clinic?

As one of the leading surgery centers in the state, Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center sets the standard for excellence in orthopedic care. 

Our commitment to excellence is reflected in every aspect of our facility, from our experienced Raleigh orthopedic surgeons to our state-of-the-art technology.

Whether you’re undergoing a joint replacement, spinal surgery, or sports medicine procedure, you can trust that you are receiving world-class care at our facilities.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.