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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

When my mother underwent chemotherapy, we spent a lot of time visiting the phlebotomy lab for blood testing. I was always impressed by how easily the phlebotomist was able to find and puncture a vein to draw blood on the first try. I knew there had to be a method to it, and was astounded by how effortless and painless they made the process. It led me to research a lot about blood tests, from drawing to the actual screening. I've created this site to share what I've learned in the hopes of teaching others. The more you understand, the more control you can have over your own health care.



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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

Spinal Fusion Surgery: What It Does And What To Expect

by Francisco Arnold

If you have certain back problems that have degenerated past the point of recovery, then you may need a type of orthopedic surgery known as spinal fusion. Spinal fusion is used in specific cases where reinforcing and restricting the movement of the spine is beneficial. However, it is a complicated surgery and you should know about how to prepare and about recovery time. Here is more information about spinal fusion, what it does, and some recovery tips.

Who Needs Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery is often recommended for people with conditions such as degenerative disk disease, scoliosis, fractures, herniated disks, or spinal stenosis. Its main function is to limit movement in the most severely damaged areas of the spine in order to reduce pain, but still allow for some spinal movement. This surgery is usually done as a last resort after all non-surgical treatments have been tried and exhausted.

How Is Spinal Fusion Surgery Done?

An orthopedic surgeon will attempt to do the surgery in the least invasive way possible. The surgery can be done through your back or your abdominal area. Depending on a number of factors, the procedure may involve removing damaged disks and grafting bone material, usually taken from your hip, over the damaged vertebra. In some cases, metal screws are used to further immobilize that part of your spine.

What Preparation Is Needed for Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Your doctor and orthopedic surgeon will need to see you several times before your surgery. You may be required to lose weight and have control and stabilization of any chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Before the surgery, you may be restricted from taking certain medications and may have to refrain from eating for a prescribed time period before the surgery.

How Long Does Recovery Take for Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Overall, it could take six months before you are finally healed from your surgery, though healing time can vary from person to person. You will at least have to spend several days in the hospital to make sure you are healing and to rule out complications. After you get home, your doctor may allow you to do light activities, such as walking. You should also receive several weeks or months of physical therapy to help you adapt to your spinal fusion before moving into your usual activities.

The good news is that many people who have had the surgery report a significant decrease in pain after the healing process. Most people are able to return to most of their normal activities after full recovery. However, spinal fusion surgery isn't a cure for other degenerative issues such as arthritis, so if you have them, then you must make sure to see your doctor regularly to keep them under control. If your doctor has recommended spinal fusion surgery and you want to know more, then contact an orthopedic surgeon for more details.