Lumbar Arthrodesis Surgery
Lumbar arthrodesis surgery is designed to eliminate pain and neurological symptoms in patents with instability or fracture. There are many different methods of spinal fusion that may be recommended if non-surgical treatment proves ineffective, neurologic problems develop, or symptoms worsen.
What is arthrodesis surgery?
Arthrodesis is a type of spine surgery that unites two or more bones or joints. The segments are permanently fused using a graft, metal rods, or other material until new bone tissue grows between them. This surgery diminishes instability in the lumbar area, which can cause pain and reduce mobility.
Indications for lumbar arthrodesis
There are a number of spine conditions that can cause vertebrae to slip out of place or rub against each other, causing significant back pain and limited function. Lumbar spinal fusion may be indicated to control excessive movement of the vertebrae caused by:
• Degenerative disc disease
• Spinal fractures due to osteoarthritis
• Lumbar spondylolisthesis
• Abnormal curvatures from scoliosis
• Herniated lumbar discs or ruptured discs
• Spinal tumors
Lumbar fusion surgery has high success rates for controlling a number of symptoms, including sciatica, tingling, back pain, and leg weakness.
Posterior vs. Anterior Lumber Interbody Fusion Techniques
There are many surgical approaches to lumbar fusion. Most patients are candidates for minimally-invasive techniques that use smaller incisions and have a faster recovery.
Transverse Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or TLIF is a minimal access surgery involving a two-inch long incision. The disc material between the affected vertebrae is removed and a spacer with the patient’s own bone is inserted into the space. TLIF surgery has high bone fusion rates and avoids complications associated with anterior approaches.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) surgery approaches the vertebrae from the front thru an incision on the abdomen. The disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft. The patient is then flipped over onto their stomach and another incision is made on the back so the instrumentation can be placed to stabilize the vertebrae. This operation has the distinct disadvantage of requiring incisions on both front and back (the so called “360 procedure”.) For these reasons, Dr. Barnett does not perform this procedure. In addition, this surgery can lead to more complications and requires a longer recovery time fame. If this surgery has been recommended, please seek a second opinion.
Recovery after lumbar fusion surgery
Patients may go home the same day of the surgery, depending on the type of lumbar fusion performed. Strenuous activity should be avoided for the first several weeks. Full recovery from lumbar fusion will hinge on many individual factors, but may take up to six months. Most patients, if well selected and motivated, will make an excellent recovery.
Schedule a consultation with David Barnett, MD
Dr. Barnett is a prominent spine specialist and neurosurgeon in Dallas-Fort Worth. Experienced in minimally-invasive lumbar fusion techniques, he will discuss the best treatment options for your specific condition and symptoms. Reach out to our office to schedule a private consultation today.
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