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Lateral Lumbar Fusion

The lateral approach to lumbar fusion is performed through a small incision in your side rather than your back. Posterior screws may be placed in addition. 

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Introduction     

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.

Rationale     

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
  • Spinal injury
Lateral Lumbar Fusion Rationale
Lateral Approach

Lateral Approach


The minimally invisive lateral procedure for spinal fusion is performed through a small incision in your side rather than you back. This protects the muscles in  your back from being cut during the surgery. 

You will be placed on the operating table on your side and your surgeon will place a special instrument called a retractor to access the spine.  Your surgeon will then remove the disc that is causing your pain.  In place of the disc, your surgeon will insert an bone graft or an interbody fusion device. After  the fusion procedure, your surgeon will also place other devices such as small screws and rods through small incisions in your back. The implants will help stabilize the spine while the bones are fusing together and your body heals. 

Pedicle Screws and Rods

Pedicle Screws and Rods


The surgeon may use some type of metal screws, plates, and rods to hold the vertebrae in place while the spine fusion heals. Designed to stabilize and hold the bones together while the fusion heals, these devices have greatly improved the success rate of fusion in the lower back.

Interbody Fusion Devices


A type of device, called an intebody 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.

References

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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.

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