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Spinal implants are devices that surgeons use during surgery to treat deformities, stabilize and strengthen the spine, and promote fusion. Conditions that often require instrumental fusion surgery include spondylolisthesis (spondylolisthesis), chronic degenerative disc disease, traumatic fractures, and other forms of spinal instability, including scoliosis.
Most spinal implants are made of metals such as titanium, titanium-alloy or stainless steel; some are made of non-metallic compounds. They come in many different shapes and sizes to accommodate different patients of all ages.
Devices are manufactured in different sizes and shapes and some, such as rods, can be contoured during surgery to fit the patient’s anatomy. Many implants, such as cervical plates, are low profile meaning they are not bulky and lay flatter against the spine’s anatomy.
Rods – one of the original implants used in the spine. Rods are used, along with hooks and screws, to immobilize involved spinal levels, and to contour the spine into correct alignment. The rods are strong, yet have some flexibility so that the surgeon can shape the rod to match the contours of the patient’s spine.
Pedicle Screws - these specially designed screws are carefully implanted into the pedicles of the spinal vertebrae. They have traditionally been used in the lumbar spine, and with recent advances in technology and technique, surgeons are now using them in the thoracic spine too. Screws provide strong "anchorage" points to which rods can be attached. Rods can then be contoured to correct deformities, and to facilitate fusion.
Hooks – used with rods and other implants to anchor them to vertebrae.
Plates - often used in the cervical spine. Plates are manufactured to conform to the contour of the spine and are held in place by screws set into adjacent vertebrae. When the plate requires adjustment, a contouring tool is used to customize the fit to the patient’s anatomy.
Cages – often called “interbody” cages because they are most often placed between two vertebrae. Cages are small hollow devices with perforated walls. Bone graft or BMP is often packed into the cage to promote bone growth between the adjacent vertebrae. Cages are used to restore lost disc height resulting from a collapsed disc and to relieve pressure on nerve roots.
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