What is SIFix?
SIFix is a minimally invasive procedure performed through a single incision, in which a small cylindrical bone implant is used to fuse the sacroiliac joint. The SIFix is a sacroiliac (SI) intra-articular fusion system that does not contain any metal or plastic. Sacroiliac joint fusion restricts the movement of the SI joint and minimizes the complications caused by SI Joint dysfunction.
The SIFix system is manufactured by the medical device company NuTech Spine and Biologics.
What is the Sacroiliac (SI) Joint?
The sacroiliac joint acts as a connection between the spine and the pelvis. It is located between the sacrum and the ilium.
The SI joint is a weight-bearing joint that acts as a shock absorber. It is supported by strong ligaments and has a very limited range of motion. The SI joint provides stability to the spine during walking and other daily activities.
What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
Sacroiliac joint pain is pain felt in the SI joint. It is usually localized to the lower back and buttocks, but can also radiate to the groin and down the legs.
What are the Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
SI joint pain can be caused by a number of reasons that may include:
- Prior spinal surgery
What are the Indications for SIFix?
SIFix is indicated after conservative methods have failed to provide relief. It is recommended for:
- Chronic sacroiliac joint pain
- Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (sacroiliitis)
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Pre-Surgical Preparation for SIFix
A thorough examination by your doctor is performed to check for any medical issues that need to be addressed prior to surgery.
Depending on your medical history, social history, and age, you may need to undergo blood and imaging tests to check for any abnormalities that could jeopardize the safety of the procedure.
- You will be asked if you have allergies to medications, anesthesia, or latex.
- You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking.
- You should refrain from medications or supplements such as blood thinners, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medicines for 1 to 2 weeks prior to surgery.
- You should refrain from alcohol or tobacco at least a few days prior to surgery.
- You should not consume any solids or liquids at least 8 hours prior to surgery.
- You should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.
A written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical procedure has been explained in detail.
The SIFix Procedure
The SIFix is an out-patient procedure performed through a posterior approach. The choice of anesthesia - local or general - depends on your doctor.
- You will lie on your stomach during the procedure.
- Anesthesia is administered.
- A tiny incision is made in your back to expose the spine.
- A surgical device called a Steinman pin is inserted into the SI joint space between the sacrum and the ilium.
- Tissue dilators are introduced creating a path to the SI joint with minimal soft tissue disruption.
- A working cannula is then inserted over the tissue dilators to create a separation in the SI joint in preparation for the drill.
- A hand drill is introduced which gently separates (decorticates) the sacrum and the ilium. This is helpful for joint fusion and provides a pathway for placement of the implant.
- The tiny cylindrical implant is placed into the SI joint via a press fit. This causes the fusion between the sacrum and the ilium.
- The cannula is removed and the incision is sutured, closed, and bandaged.
Recovery and Care after the SIFix Procedure
You will be taken to a recovery area to be monitored after the procedure.
You will be able to walk after the SIFix procedure and can return home the same day.
- Your doctor may give you specific instructions to be followed after the SIFix procedure.
- You will need to schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your recovery.
What are the Benefits/Advantages of a SIFix?
The SIFix procedure offers the following advantages:
- Minimally invasive
- Uses no metal implant
- Outpatient procedure
- Same-day discharge
- Safe and effective
- Provides joint stability
- Significant pain reduction
- Recovery within 2 weeks
- Long-term pain relief