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Arthrodesis - General

What is Arthrodesis?

Arthrodesis is defined at its most basic meaning, as the surgical fusion of two or more joint surfaces. The most common locations for joint arthrodesis are the wrist, knee, hip or spine. The actual fusion process is accomplished a variety of methods, including surgical pins or straps.

How is it Performed?

Arthrodesis procedures are performed through internal, external, or intramedullary nail fixation.

  • External arthrodesis - uses an external fixation device placed on either side of the joint, with pins or screws inserted into the bone above and below the joint for support and stabilization during the healing process.
  • Internal arthrodesis - uses an internal fixation plate device that offers permanent fixation. The procedure must be accurate and precise, as once fixed, cannot be removed. Any adjustments are completed through repositioning of the plate.
  • Intramedullary nail fixation - immobilizes the joint for treatment of osteoporosis or other degenerative conditions that make external or internal use of pins or screws unfeasible.


Arthrodesis is beneficial in restoration, strength, and stability of a weakened joint. The procedure is beneficial to those with conditions like spinal stenosis or those with a failed knee joint replacement. It's also beneficial for those diagnosed with osteoarthritis, arthritis or osteoporosis.

How Long does it Take?

The length of the procedure depends on the type of arthrodesis you're obtaining and the location of the joint being fused. You may be given a regional block or you may opt for general anesthesia so you can sleep through the procedure. Arthrodesis procedures generally last one to three hours. A recovery period of one to three hours follows the procedure. Of course, your surgery and recovery time frame depends on the type of surgery and the location of the surgical procedure.