Lumbar Fusion Surgery

Our human vertebral spine absorbs a lot of the effects of gravity do to our unique upright that we assume from when we wake up in the morning, to when we go to bed. Not all of these weights and pressures of the spine are spread evenly throughout the spine. The majority of these weights and pressures are concentrated on the structures of the lumbar spine, due to its location near our center of gravity. To protect against injury, the vertebral bones and the discs between them are and taller than throughout the rest of the spine, and the natural curves or the back, as well as the sacroiliac joints help to absorb a lot of the energy that is driven down upon the spine as we jump, walk, stand, and lift boxes. Yet, the lumbar spine remains the part of the spine that is most vulnerable to injury, particular the lumbar discs and the lumbar-sacral disc. When we are young, healthy, and have avoided a major injury, these discs maintain their height enough the separate vertebral bones and to absorb energy when great weights are placed upon it. We may experience back pain when the discs decrease in height to the point that other structures must now take on added pressures, or when the disc breaks in certain section. Breaks in discs, known as herniations, may allow the material in its nucleus to spill through. When these gel-like materials pill through and impact the spinal canal or the nerve roots, the patient may experience significant low back pain and other associated neurologic symptoms. Patients with this condition may not simply have the option of sucking it up and bearing it, because these associated neurologic symptoms may include numbness, weakness, and burning in the legs and feet. If the herniated disc material compresses the affected discs long enough or hard enough, the muscles could atrophy and you may eventually lose your ability to move your leg. For back pain symptoms such as these, of the failure to experience lower back pain relief, some patients will receive back surgery to remove the material that is compressing the nerve.

Procedure or Procedures: The majority of back surgeries involve the removal of all or part of the spinal structures that are causing the nerves to become pinched. In some cases, the surgeries are relatively minor, especially in cases such as microdiscectomies. A microdiscectomy involves the removal of the part of the disc causing the herniation or nerve root compression. In other cases, the entire disc must be removed. In these cases, the entire disc is removed, and the adjacent vertebral bones are fused together to stabilize the spine at this level. This procedure is known as a discectomy with lumbar fusion surgery. Let's take a closer look at this procedure.

A lumbar spinal fusion surgery is designed stabilize spine at that level where the disc required removal. This procedure may also be performed to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment, which may help to alleviate lower pain that was caused by the instability of this joint. this procedure involve the use of hardware to hold two or more vertebra in place, as well as a bone graft to create a permanent fusion of the two segments. When the bone graft has successfully fused the segments, it stops motion at that segment, which is expected to alleviate the pain. The fusion between two vertebral bones is called a one-level spinal fusion. When the surgery is complete, the two vertebral bones, as well as the bone graft material taken from one of the large bones of your body (e.g. hip, femur) will then exist as a single fused bone. There are several variations of lumbar spinal surgery, including:
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
  • Anterior/posterior spinal fusion
  • Posterolateral gutter fusion
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF/TLIF)