Your Complete Guide to Spinal Implants

Surgery is not required in most of the spinal conditions, however, there are times when it becomes very important for the patient to undergo one. Unique and specially designed spinal instrumentation used in the spinal implants are an integral part of all the surgical processes. One can expect these implants to provide strength to the spine and stabilize it, fix the deformities, and facilitate fusion.

The special conditions which might give rise to the need for surgery include traumatic fracture, slippage of the spine, scoliosis, and chronic degenerative disc disease apart from numerous other critical spinal instabilities.

What Are Implants?

Metals like titanium, stainless steel, and titanium-alloy are used to manufacture spinal implants whereas there are some which are made from non-metallic compounds. Patients of different ages and sizes can easily be accommodated because of the variety of shapes available in these implants.

Scientists all over the world are working hard to bring further improvements to these implants so that they can result in more favorable outcomes. In quite a few years, some breakthroughs have been achieved in this regard and they include the development of special plates, the creation of small implants for children, and enabling the doctors to correct the deformities 3-dimensionally.

Spinal Implants

The different groups of these implants are:


These rods are really strong along with being flexible which allows the surgeon to contour them according to the need of the patient while bringing alignment to the spine.

Pedicle Screws

These are the strong points which provide a place for attachment to the rods. Initially, they were used in lumbar spine only but the advancements in technology have enabled the surgeons to use them in thoracic spine as well.


Used for anchoring purposes along with rods and other kinds of implants.


The plates help in conforming to the contouring of the spine. Screws which are adjusted in adjacent vertebrae tend to hold them in place. They can be contoured in the future as well depending on the anatomy of the patient.


Having perforated walls, these are minute hollow devices. If the height of a disc is lost because of a collapse, then cages can be used for restoration purposes and the pressure on the nerve roots is also relieved.

How To Use These Implants?

The use of these implants depends on a great volume of the specific needs of a particular patient. Titanium implants are said to be resilient and light along with allowing usage with MRIs. Low volume and low profile implants are the best options which sometimes are not visible through a scan but the bone forming and bone fusion can be inferred.

Future Of These Implants

Scientists are keenly working on bioresorbable implants which are completely gone in the matter of time when the problem is resolved. They are designed in a way that they break down when they come in contact with water.

The better treatments for patients are surfacing every now and then but the scope and usage of any kind of treatment depends a great deal on the needs of the patients.


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Types of Spinal Implants

Spinal problems are increasing rapidly nowadays, mainly due to our sedentary lifestyle and other postural and physical habits. Most of the spinal problems can be treated by non-surgical procedures, but sometimes surgery is the only option that includes the use of specially designed spinal implants.

Spinal Implants

Conditions requiring spinal implants:

These implants can correct deformities, reduces pain, neurological defect and helps to stabilize the spine. Conditions requiring spinal implants include disc slip, degenerated disc, spinal tumor, spondylosis, fracture of the vertebrae, posterior rami syndrome and spinal instability such as scoliosis and kyphosis. In the cervical spine, most common problems are compressed nerve root or herniated disc while in lumbar spine kyphosis and scoliosis are the main problems. All these issues can be corrected by spinal implants.

Spinal Implants:

The spinal implants are made from titanium, alloy or steel which is stainless, and some from non-metals (plastics). They are especially designed in various shapes and sizes so that they may fit in different patients of various ages and sizes.

Research is being done in this field to further refine the implants that work more accurately. With the invention of screw, rods and hooks, surgeons are able to treat deformed spine in all the three dimensions. The specific type of plates and small sized implants are being designed for spinal fusion and for children respectively.

Types of Spinal Implants:

1) Fusion implants:

Fusion implants are used with bone grafts and it includes; rods, screws, plates, hooks and cages.


Rods have been used since the advent of the implants. The purpose of these rods is to make the affected segments of the spine non-mobile for the accurate alignment of the spine. Rods are made up of titanium or stainless steel, but it is flexible, which allows the surgeon to fit the rod according to the contour of the spine.


These are called pedicle screws because they are fixed in the pedicles of the vertebra. They are used for the lumbar segments, but because of the ongoing progress in this field, it is also being used for thoracic spine. Rods should be fixed according to the contour of the spine and for that purpose screws are used as they provide anchorage points for rods.  In this way, it promotes fusion and removes deformities.


Hooks are used with rods; they help in anchoring them and other implants to the vertebrae.


Plates are used with screws so that it may be held in place in a vertebra. Plates are adjusted according to the size of the patient and for that purpose, contouring tool may be used.


Cages are used mostly for collapsed disc and nerve root impingement. These are small devices. These are placed between vertebrae and a bone graft may be packed between them to promote the growth of the affected vertebral column.

2) Non-fusion implants:

These are not combined with bone grafts. Examples are; Growth-sparing devices and artificial discs. These growth sparing devices are used in children who have the growing skeleton.


It is better to use low-volume and low-profile implants so that they are not visible through the skin and there is no post-operative pain. Titanium is better as it is light and can be seen on MRI. Progress is being made in this field so that better results can be obtained.

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