Gauge blocks or plugs and permanent implant plugs are provided for surgical procedures to support and fuse together adjacent vertebrae in a vertebral column. The plugs are rectangular with tapered front ends and tool receiving rear ends. The gauge blocks are smooth faced for removal but the implant plugs have roughened surfaces to grip the vertebrae and provide channels for bone ingrowth. The plugs have recesses in the form of through slots to be packed with bone graft material. In the surgical procedure, undamaged annulus fibrosus disc tissue connecting the adjacent vertebrae is preserved and a pair of side-by-side roughened implant plugs are forced into side-by-side transverse channels in the adjoining vertebrae to stretch the remaining annulus disc tissue and form struts supporting the vertebrae. The plugs are bottomed in the channels on cortex bone and bone ingrowth is facilitated to fuse the plugs to the vertebrae.