Key Points about Pseudarthrosis

  • Pseudarthrosis occurs when a spinal fusion surgery fails.
  • Some people with this condition experience no symptoms; some people feel pain in their neck, back, arms or legs.
  • Diagnosis of pseudarthrosis involves imaging tests of the spine.
  • The treatment for pseudarthrosis is a second spinal fusion surgery.
Common related conditions
Cervical Osteoarthritis (Arthritis in the Neck) Compression Fractures Disc (Disk) Herniation Myelopathy

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that spine specialists use to correct problems with the vertebrae (small bones in the spine). In a spinal fusion, the specialist “welds” the bones together. Sometimes, the bones don’t heal together as intended and pseudarthrosis occurs. 

Pseudarthrosis causes 

This condition is caused when a pseudarthrosis is performed, and the bones don’t heal together as intended.

Pseudarthrosis risk factors

If you have undergone a spinal fusion and have one or more of the following risk factors, you may be at an increased risk for developing pseudarthrosis:

  • Being a smoker or using other tobacco products
  • Being malnourished
  • Being obese
  • Having diabetes
  • Having osteoporosis
  • Having other metabolic disorders
  • Using steroids for a long period of time

Pseudarthrosis symptoms

Depending on where the spinal fusion was attempted, pseudarthrosis may cause pain in the neck, back, arms or legs. In some cases, people with this condition don’t experience any symptoms.

Pseudarthrosis diagnosis

Your specialist will use imaging tests – such as an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan – to obtain a detailed image of your spine and spinal cord to determine if you have pseudarthrosis.

Pseudarthrosis treatment

Treatment for this condition typically includes a second attempt at spinal fusion procedure. Recent advances in surgical techniques and equipment may increase the chance of success for the second procedure.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a spine specialist for more specialized treatment.