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Spine Conditions

Sacroiliac Joint Disorders FAQs

Women may be at increased risk for SI joint problems because of their broader pelvises, and greater curvature of the lumbar spine, which result in different SI joint biomechanics. Women also have more elastin in the collagen that makes up their ligaments. Elastin is a molecule that allows increased flexibility of ligaments. In addition, pregnancy often results in stretching of the sacroiliac ligaments. Some women have permanent changes to the SI joint ligaments as a result of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth.

If you have trouble sleeping comfortably, or frequently experience your leg giving way, pain in certain lying or bending positions, or tenderness in your buttocks, you may have an SI joint disorder.

It is not always easy to diagnose SI joint disorders, but provocative tests and injections are helpful for confirming the SI joint as the pain source. Sometimes your physical findings indicate a SI joint condition, but chronic changes may also be seen in your lumbar spine.

The iFuse Implant System (“iFuse”) is intended for sacroiliac joint fusion for conditions including sacroiliac joint dysfunction that is a direct result of sacroiliac joint disruptions and degenerative sacroiliitis. This includes conditions whose symptoms began during pregnancy or in the peripartum period and have persisted postpartum for more than 6 months.

You will be told when to stop eating and drinking before surgery. If you take a daily medication, ask if you should still take it the morning of the surgery. It is critical to inform Dr. Ball if you are taking any blood-thinning medication. At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked. An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.

The SI joint fusion is performed in an operating room with either general or spinal anesthesia. You will be lying face down while your surgeon uses a specially designed system to guide the instruments that prepare the bone and insert the implants. Both the surgical technique and the iFuse Implant System are designed to offer maximum protection to your surrounding tissues.

The entire procedure is performed through a small incision, approximately 2-3 inches long, along the side of your buttock. During the procedure, fluoroscopy provides your surgeon with live imaging to enable proper placement of the implants. Normally, three implants are used, depending on your size.

The procedure takes approximately 1 hour. You may feel comfortable enough to return home the same day of surgery or perhaps the morning after. Dr. Ball will make this decision based on your post-surgical status.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that treatment with the iFuse Implant System improved pain, patient function, and quality of life.

There are potential risks associated with the iFuse Implant System. It may not be appropriate for all patients and all patients may not benefit. For information about the risks, visit www.si-bone.com/risks.

The benefits of the iFuse Implant System include:

  • It is a minimally invasive surgical approach.
  • The triangular implant profile minimizes rotation and an interference fit minimizes micromotion.
  • The porous surface promotes bony ongrowth and ingrowth.
  • It is designed especially to stabilize and fuse the heavily loaded SI joint.
  • The rigid titanium construction and implant geometry provide immediate stabilization.

The iFuse ImplantsTM have a unique triangular shaped design to maintain their implant position over time. The implants allow for bony ongrowth and ingrowth and promote fusion of the SI joint over time.

The iFuse Implants are small titanium rods about the size of your little finger. Titanium is a very strong but lightweight material, commonly used for medical device implants.

At the time of discharge, Dr. Ball will provide post-surgical care instructions based on your medical health. He will also arrange for follow-up visits to assess your progress, the status of your incision, and your health status. You may experience some post-op buttock swelling, which can be alleviated by icing the region after surgery.

After surgery, you will be partial weight-bearing for 3-4 weeks with the use of crutches or a walker. Dr. Ball will assess your progress and decide when you can return to full weight-bearing and resume your daily activities.

A patient with this device can be scanned safely, immediately after placement, with some conditions. Dr. Ball can advise further on this issue.

At a Glance

Dr. Hieu Ball

  • Double fellowship-trained orthopedic
  • Orthopedic surgery residency at Harvard Medical School
  • Over 20 years of spine surgery experience
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