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Anterior Lumbar Fusion
The anterior approach to lumbar fusion allows your doctor to access the intervertebral disc from the front. This operation is usually done by making an incision in your abdomen.
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One of the main goals of any surgical procedure on the skeletal system is to stop the pain caused by joints that have worn out over time-degenerative joints. One of the most reliable ways to reduce pain from degeneration is to fuse the joint together. A fusion is an operation where two bones, usually separated by a joint, are allowed to grow together into one bone. The medical term for this type of fusion procedure is arthrodesis.
Spinal fusion has been used for many years to treat painful conditions in the lumbar spine. Over the past decade, there have been dramatic improvements in the way that spinal fusion operations are performed. One major improvement has been the development of fixation devices.
Only when all other conservative treatments have failed will your doctor suggest fusion surgery. Several back conditions may require a spinal fusion, including
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal instability
- Spine curvature
- Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis
- Spine injury
Your surgeon can use an anterior (from the front) approach, a posterior (from the back) approach, or a combined approach to lumbar fusion surgery.
In some cases, it may be best to consider placing the bone graft or an interbody fusion device between the vertebral bodies. The anterior interbody approach allows the surgeon to remove the intervertebral disc from the front and place the bone graft or interbody fusion device between the vertebrae.
This operation is usually done by making an incision in the abdomen, just above the pelvic bone. The organs in the abdomen, such as the intestines, kidneys, and blood vessels, are moved to the side to allow the surgeon to see the front of the spine. The surgeon then locates the problem disc and removes it. Bone graft or an intebody fusion device is placed into the area between the vertebrae where the disc has been removed.
Interbody Fusion Devices
A type of device, called an interbody fusion device, or cage, can be used to perform a spinal fusion between two vertebrae. These implants are designed to spread the two vertebrae apart while the fusion heals.
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Only a spine surgeon can tell if spine treatment is right for you.