Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Fusion


What are SI Joint Fusions?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint fusion is a minimally invasive integrative medicine technique that involves the insertion of triangular titanium rods across the sacroiliac joint.

Performed under general anesthesia, an SI joint fusion is recommended for patients experiencing chronic or acute pain as a result of degeneration to the sacroiliac joints and for whom other forms of non-surgical pain management and physical therapy no longer provide effective relief.

When to Consider a SI Joint Fusion

Connecting the spine with the pelvis, the sacroiliac joints are composed of two joints—they are positioned in the lower back area, approximately three inches to either side of the spine. Providing stability to the spine, the sacroiliac joints also help offset extra weight to the lower limbs.

Traumatic injury to the ligaments, inflammation (osteoarthritis), or degeneration of the joint itself are all common causes of lower back pain arising from the SI joint. Our patients commonly get diagnosed with SI joint pain as a result of the following two causes:

  • Degenerative sacroiliitis
  • Sacral disruption

If left untreated, SI joint pain can spread down to the pelvis and back of the leg, leading to chronic pain, weakness, and an instability on one's feet.

Common Symptoms We See in Our Patients

Patients experiencing the following symptoms, who are unable to experience relief from non-surgical forms of pain management, may be good candidates for a SI joint infusion:

  • Discomfort in the low back, hip, buttocks, and groin region
  • Gradual onset of pain occurring on one side of the lower body
  • Sciatica of the leg on the side where the patient is experiencing chronic low back or pelvic pain
  • Painful when walking up the stairs or on an incline
  • Discomfort increases when standing or sitting for extended periods

What Happens During a SI Joint Fusion?

A minimally invasive procedure, SI joint fusion, is performed under general anesthesia in an operating room. The patient lies face down, in the prone position, on an X-ray table. An antibacterial cleanser is spread on the back to disinfect the area of the incision.

An X-ray camera is used to identify the position of the sacroiliac joint. Our doctors use fluoroscopy or CT imaging to see the interior structures of the SI joint and approximate the placement of each implant. A small incision is made along the buttocks, and triangular titanium rods are placed across the sacroiliac joint.

This outpatient procedure takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes with a minimal post-recovery period. Our patients report experiencing a marked increase in their quality of life soon after the procedure. In addition, decreased pain, increased mobility, and daily function are expected outcomes.

If you are dealing with chronic lower back or pelvic pain as a result of sacroiliac joint pain and want to learn more about integrated approaches to improve your condition, call Scott Wagner Integrated Medicine in Charlottesville, VA, at (434) 978-4888 to learn more.


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