How Can iFuse SI Joint Fusion Surgery Help Change Lives?

Fixed. Thankful. Amazed. These are just a few of the words used by sacroiliac (SI) joint fusion patients to describe what they’re feeling after recovering from their minimally invasive SI joint fusion surgery with the iFuse implant system.

Using this quick, minimally invasive procedure, Dr. McBride and his fellowship trained spine surgeon colleagues are able to fuse a joint in the pelvis, offering almost instant relief from lingering pain and discomfort.“I’m so thankful to have my life back and get back to the things I love to do,” says Gail Page, a recent patient of G. Grady McBride, M.D., at Orlando Orthopaedic Center.

“Prior to having surgery, I was in horrible pain,” confesses Gail. “Now I can get out and do all of the things I love and I don’t feel tired at the end of the day. There is no pain.”

What is SI Joint Fusion Surgery?

SI joint fusion surgery is accomplished using the iFuse Implant System. This system is designed to stabilize and fuse the SI joint, reducing or eliminating discomfort for patients. The SI joint links the iliac bones of the pelvis to the sacrum, which is the lowest part of the spine above the tailbone.

“More or less, this area serves as a shock absorber to prevent impact forces during walking from reaching the spine and creating pain,” says Dr. McBride. “Like any other joint in the body, the SI joint can become damaged; and what we’ve found is the iFuse procedure can really help patients get back to enjoying their life once they’re healed.”

Prior to surgery, Gail was very active walking, shopping and theme park hopping. But the pain became so consistently unbearable she was barely able to get out of bed or in and out of her car.

“I was in horrible pain before surgery,” she says. “I was even feeling somewhat depressed because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.”

But Gale’s not alone. Recent research has suggested the SI joint is a pain generator in up to 25 percent of low back pain cases and up to 43 percent of post-lumbar and lumbosacral fusion patients

How is the SI Joint Fusion Surgery Performed?

The SI joint fusion with the iFuse Implant System is performed by inserting small titanium implants across the SI joint to maximize stability and weight bearing capability. The entire procedure is performed through a small incision and will be completed in under an hour.

Surgeons use a specially designed system to guide the instruments that prepare the bone and insert the implants.

Once the incision (typically 2-3cm long) is made, your physician will use fluoroscopy to place the implants and fuse the SI joint.

“Fluoroscopy gives us real-time moving images of internal structures using X-rays,” says Dr. McBride. “It’s essential to allowing us to place the joints in the exact positions they need to be to maximize strength and stability while avoiding any unnecessary tissue disruption that would lead to increased pain and longer recovery periods for patients.”

What is the Recovery Process for an SI Joint Fusion Surgery?

According to Dr. McBride, most patients resume most of their basic daily tasks within six to eight weeks. There may be some limitation on more strenuous activities including return to work for three to four months depending on postsurgical progress and occupation.

“Healing is different for every individual, but we feel confident in producing positive outcomes following surgery with these timelines,” says Dr. McBride.

For Gail, she was back doing her favorite activities without pain just 11 weeks after surgery.

“I am very thankful that I have regained my life,” she says. “I highly recommend Orlando Orthopaedic Center and Dr. McBride for giving me my life back.”