Spinal Fusion and Instrumentation

What is Spinal Fusion & Instrumentation?

Scoliosis surgery in adolescents/adults consists of spinal fusion, in which the vertebrae are fused together with bone grafts and instrumentation. The instrumentation consists of metal rods that are attached to the spine to maintain curve correction. Most spinal fusions are performed through a posterior approach, in which the operation is performed with an incision in the back.  The alternative is an anterior approach which is done in some situations.

Why is This Procedure Performed?

A spinal fusion and instrumentation is recommended in several situations, including adolescent scoliosis where the curve has progressed to greater than 50 degrees. The underlying cause could be idiopathic, congenital or neuromuscular. A spinal fusion and instrumentation is also recommended for patients with spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis that has failed conservative measures. A spinal fusion and instrumentation is also sometimes recommended in the young child with congenital scoliosis that is progressive.  In that situation, the vertebra that is not formed correctly is removed (hemivertebrectomy) and a short spinal fusion and instrumentation is done.

Our Approach

Here at NewYork Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital we strive to make this surgery as safe as possible by minimizing the risks. As a major center for the treatment of children with spine issues, we benefit from a wide range of experience treating all types of children with scoliosis. This experience has allowed us to develop protocols and checklists that help us to deliver the safest and best experience to you and your child.  In fact, we have led the development of best practice guidelines in this area and are heavily involved in clinical research and national governance in the area of pediatric spine care.


Because of the stability and effectiveness of the devices used in these spine operations today, patients are usually able to walk the day following their surgery, and hospital stays are generally about 3-5 days. The majority of adolescents returns to school within 4 weeks and can often return to full athletic activity within 6 months.

Spine Surgery Pre-Op Class:






Tips from a Patient: