About Lumbar Fusion
Lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure used to treat specific problems that would not respond well to decompression surgery alone.
Lumbar fusion entails joining two or more lumbar vertebrae together. This has consequences for range of motion meaning less flexibility after the procedure. Many patients have already lost motion due to pain, instability or abnormal shifting of the spine, deformities like scolioisis, and disc degeneration. There are many different methods to perform lumbar fusion but the primary two options are traditional open lubar fusion vs more modern minimally invasive techniques. At Modern Spine, the choice is clear. We favor minimally invasive approaches in most cases.
A Minimally Invasive L4-5 fusion.
This surgery was done through three incisions all about 1 inch in length.
Indications for Lumbar Fusion
There are many indications for lumbar fusion. At Modern Spine, we not only explain the technique but go over your MRI and imaging to go over why a fusion might be your best option. When there is a choice between a Lumbar Decompression and a lumbar fusion for your condition, we carefully go over the risks and benefits of each approach and help you with this important decision.
Lumbar Fusion Facts
Open surgery has a relatively high risk of infection and almost universally causes permanent muscle damage.
Minimally invasive lumbar fusion has a lower than 1% infection rate, lower risk of serious complications, and a shorter length of stay in most cases.
I was offered a lumbar fusion and told there were no other options. Do I really need one?
Many patients can be decompressed instead of fused. At Modern Spine, we carefully review your images and your options and present to you the pros and cons of each option. You decide your best option, and we do our best after that.
Traditional Open Fusion vs. Minimally Invasive Techniques
Open lumbar fusion involves making a large incision in the back, separating the muscles off the spine, and exposing the bones of the spine. Once visualized, the bone is drilling and then bone from a cadaver or from a separate location like the patient’s hip is removed and placed along the spine. Screws can be placed in this fashion to hold the bones together. The surgery usually entails significant risks with a relatively high chance of infection and transfusion due to the large surface area exposed. This is the most common method of fusion in the United States and has been for many decades.
Minimally invasive lumbar fusion is a modern form of surgery that involves making small incisions to perform similar work to an open surgery. The small approaches allow less disruption to the spine and the muscles around it. The technology has been around since around 2000 but is has not been widely adopted in the region. The same techniques are employed to obtain fusion but without the high risk of blood transfusion and infection. Patients also mobilize quicker and go home faster than with open lumbar fusion when minimally invasive techniques are used. This is the primary method used at Modern Spine because of the numerous advantages to patients compared to the traditional surgery.
Minimally Invasive Advantages
Minimally Invasive Approaches
A Modern Spine, we pride ourselves on being able to approach the spine in every way using minimally invasive techniques. You can research the various approaches more through the external links below. The procedures
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
This is an approach through a small abdominal incision. It allows placement of a large spacer to restore a collapsed disc.
Resources: Spine Universe ALIF (External Link)
I was told I have to have an open surgery to fix my problems. Is that true?
It is most likely not true. Most surgeons are not trained at the various approaches described above and just use the open approach as their only tool. At Modern Spine, we offer every approach and pick the one that suits your condition and the goals of surgery.
At Modern Spine, fusions are almost alway done in a minimally invasive fashion even revision surgery to repair or extend an older fusion. Get a referral from your docot or reach out using the Consult Today button below or Contact Us. We take self referrals and second opinions and consider ourselves honored if you choose us.