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Arthrodesis - Fusion of a Joint

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Updated October 21, 2012

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Definition: An arthrodesis is a surgical procedure, also called a joint fusion. In performing an arthrodesis, the goal is to permanently hold a joint in a fixed position, and allow bone to grow across that joint. While this means the joint will never bend again, there is often dramatic pain relief in that area.

An arthrodesis procedure is sometimes performed for the treatment of advance arthritis. Depending on the joint involved, arthrodesis can be an alternative to a joint replacement surgery, and may be recommended in certain individuals who are likely to have problems with joint replacements. In some cases, arthrodesis is recommended to younger, more active individuals who are likely to have problems wearing out a joint replacement.

Complications of an arthrodesis include increased wear on neighboring joints (since the joints above and below the fusion have to do more work) and nonunion of the fusion. In addition, patients undergoing arthrodesis need to understand the affected joint will no longer bend.

Pronunciation: Are-throw-DEE-sis
Also Known As: joint fusion
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